Heritage Professionals advocate saving Shakesides

The BC Association of Heritage Professionals (BCAHP) has written a strong letter to BC Attorney General David Eby, and Hon. Doug Donaldson Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, advocating saving Mack Laing’s former home of Shakesides.

They also condemn the Town of Comox for its plan to demolish and replace it with a viewing platform – and for claiming that the cost was too high to restore the house for the purpose stated by Laing. They have expressed support for the Mack Laing Heritage Society (MLHS) in its petition to the Supreme Court to save Shakesides and restore it to be used as a nature museum as Mack Laing stated in his Will.

In an open letter, BCAHP President Elana Zysblat expressed ‘deep concern about the potential loss of a historic place, Shakesides, of Provincial and National interest in Comox, British Columbia.”

Concern was also expressed about the use of the BC Community Charter to justify the destruction of heritage important to Canadians.

“With this (letter), we are expressing our concerns over the Town of Comox’s attempted use of section 184 of the Community Charter to circumvent a Trust and, specifically, their threat to demolish Shakesides, an important Canadian heritage asset which represents community heritage values that extend much further than the boundaries of the Town of Comox.”

“Gord Macdonald, Heritage BC Chair, shares our belief that the stated heritage value of Shakesides demands that Hamilton Mack Laing’s former home be ‘conserved for … future generations’ and that the Town of Comox should ‘use the building in ways that will conserve its heritage value.’ Heritage BC has committed to providing their assistance, at no charge, to the Town of Comox, for the duration of the process to repurpose Shakesides, and guarantee the town a provincial grant through the Heritage Legacy Fund (HLF) Heritage Conservation Program. To this date, the Town of Comox has ignored this offer by Heritage BC.”

The BCAHP pointed out that a Statement of Significance and a Heritage Hssessment have both been completed for Shakesides. These were commissioned by the MLHS. A third review, the Conservation Plan, would be done pro bono by the two heritage professionals who conducted the first two assessments.

Shakesides, says the BCAHP, represents an important heritage asset that extends “much further than the boundaries of the Town of Comox.”

The letter strongly encourages the provincial government and the Attorney General, to take on a leadership role in preserving heritage.

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