A two day garage sale on June 9 and 10, featuring art, collectibles and an eclectic collection of other items raised over $835, plus the sale of the group’s two Brian Scott paintings (Baybrook and Shakesides/Baybrook) to good homes. All proceeds will go to continuing the legal battle with the Town of Comox, which wants to overturn the Mack Laing Trust and demolish Laing’s hand-built home, Shakesides, in Mack Laing Park. Both the land and the house were left in trust to the people of Comox.
The MLHS offers its sincere thanks to the many people who donated goods for the garage sale, ensuring its remarkable success.
Interest in the issue remains strong and several local craftsmen and contractors have promised assistance in restoring Shakesides and converting it into a modest public nature museum/nature house as Mack Laing expressed in his last will and testament – which also left over $60,000 to convert and maintain it on his death in 1982. Despite accepting the terms of the bequest, the town has not honoured its promise and rented t he house for over 30 years, denying access to the public as Laing wished. Having failed to maintain it, they then declared it could not be restored and attempted to demolish it in 2015, prevented at the 11th hour by the Attorney General of BC because they had not stated their intention regards the trust funds.
Having told the Mack Laing Nature House Advisory Committee in 2016 that there was insufficient funds in the trust funds to honour Laing’s wishes (at that time the amount was stated as about $75,000), and that Committee agreeing that it could not be done at no expense to taxpayers, the town has since added more than $100,000 to the fund, in effect admitting that some trust funds were spent on projects unrelated to Shakesides. With public support and that of contractors, Shakesides could be restored and operated at minimal or no cost to the town. The town has declined to reinstate the Committee, despite the fact that the current financial state and interest from the community could change the outcome.
In an election year, voters should ask all candidates why the town is pursuing a very expensive legal challenge when the MLHS is quite willing to discuss an alternate vision for Shakesides that would honour the gift given to the town and its citizens. ANyone who wishes to query municipal election candidates about this issue, please download the brochure produced for the garage sale weekend, which explains what is at stake and whom to contact: MLHSJune2018Flyer