Wildwood: A community model for creating jobs and revenue within ecological parameters

Wildwood: A community model for creating jobs and revenue within ecological parameters

Photos of the homestead at Wildwood are courtesy of the EcoForestry Institute Society

Wildwood: A community model for creating jobs and revenue within ecological parameters

By George Le Masurier

In February of 2017, the former Comox Town Council voted to petition the BC Supreme Court to modify the Hamilton Mack Laing Trust established 39 years ago. The town’s intention was to demolish Laing’s heritage home, called Shakesides, and use the money he had bequeathed the Town of Comox for other purposes.

Although the town had done nothing to live up to the Trust Agreement for over four decades, the town now seemed anxious to get to court and proceed with its plan to replace Shakesides with a “viewing platform.”

But the Supreme Court disrupted those plans when it granted the Mack Laing Heritage Society intervenor status in the case, which would allow the society to present evidence opposed to the town’s petition.

Now, after spending more than $200,000 with a Vancouver law firm, the town appears to have abandoned its petition for unexplained reasons and has not announced any new approach to fulfilling its Trust Agreement.

But among the evidence the Mack Laing Heritage Society (MLHS) would have presented in court was a complete business plan for the restoration of Shakesides as a community project. The plan identified dozens of local businesses, tradespeople and volunteer citizens committed to providing labour, materials and donations.

The plan was “totally plausible” according to its chief architect Gord Olson, a member of the society, in part because other communities have successfully used similar plans to restore landmarks and heritage sites.

In fact, the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper featured such a project in a three-page spread in its Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021 edition. Although larger in scale, the Wildwood forest and homestead located between Nanaimo and Ladysmith shows how a community project can create a self-sustaining job-creation destination.

 

RESTORATION OF WILDWOOD

Merv Wilkinson originally intended to farm the property he bought on Quennell Lake in 1938 and enrolled in farming classes at the University of British Columbia. But one of his professors urged Wilkinson to instead create a sustainable forest like the ones in the teacher’s Scandinavia homeland.

Over the next seven decades, Wilkinson managed a sustainable forest that today still includes old-growth trees. He selectively logged the property every five years for density, light and marketable species.

He also built a log house with stock from his property that burned down from a chimney fire. He rebuilt it again in 1965.

Wilkinson, who died in 2011 at age 97, eventually moved off the property. The Land Conservancy of BC took its management, but when the TLC proposed selling the property to a private interest, a registered charitable society went to court to keep Wilkinson’s legacy in the public domain.

The Ecoforestry Institute Society (EIS), founded in 1994 by several University of Victoria academics, eventually won a 2016 court battle to acquire the property and hold it in trust for the people of B.C.

Kathleen Code, the EIS vice-chair and communication director, told Decafnation that the society was aided by an Eco forestry Management Plan and a trust deed written by Dr. Donavon Waters, a well-known Canadian trust lawyer. The property now can never be sold to a private interest and must always be owned by a like-minded society.

But, she said, by then the homestead had fallen into serious disrepair. Wildlife and vegetation started to reclaim it back to nature, including a resident bat colony that was relocated to bat boxes.

So Code said the society created a plan to restore the homestead with the help of volunteers, community donations and financial support from the local government.

The result has been a total success, she says.

 

SELF-SUSTAINING AND POPULAR

“Wildwood is a job and revenue creator, all the while operating with its ecological parameters of the forest,” Code told Decafnation in a telephone conversation.

People come from all over the world to visit Wildwood. Some come for tours, some to see the fully-functioning forest and ecosystem, including old growth. There have been groups of Korean foresters, government ministers from Germany, delegations from Europe and more.

But some people come simply for a respite in nature. A top Holland travel agency for the well-heeled has added Wildwood to its list of recommended destinations.

“Some people come to see the famous pear tree in the orchard planted by Dr. Jane Goodall, one of Merv’s many famous friends from around the world,” she said.

Visitors can stay overnight in the log cabin homestead, which has a two-night minimum. Some guests have stayed for a week. The house sleeps 6 with 2.5 baths.

But Wildwood also rents the house for corporate retreats, weddings — one event involved more than 100 people — workshops and other functions.

Code told Decafnation that the facility is already fully-booked through mid-September of 2021.

“What a great job creator; it’s one of the new ways to develop revenue streams while keeping nature intact,” she said. “People today want an experience in their vacation, not just a destination. Vancouver Island can offer experiences in spades. We have nature at its best.”

 

JOB CREATOR

Kathleen Code’s own economic development background has helped make Wildwood a self-sustaining enterprise.

In its second full year, the property generated about $30,000 in revenue that along with continuing public donations and grants pays the society’s $450,000 mortgage, compensates the paid part-time education programmers and tour guides.

It also creates other jobs for cleaners, caterers, maintenance people, naturalists who design courses for school children and workshop facilitators for programs on bats, mushrooms, edible plant identification and health and wellness.

Code says that future building plans will require architects, engineers, construction workers and tradespeople. They also hope to add value-added products, employing artisans and woodworkers. She anticipates that these events will also help support musicians, photographers and artists.

“What a great job creator,” she said. “It’s one of the new ways to develop revenue streams while keeping nature intact.”

 

HOW THEY FINANCED IT

The Land Conservancy originally raised $1.1 million to own and steward Wildwood. Part of the funds came from Grace Wilkinson, the second wife of Merv Wilkinson, who owned three-quarters of the property at the time.

After the court victory in 2016, the Ecoforestry Institute Society paid $800,000 to acquire the property from the TLC. They relied on community donations, but the majority of the money was raised through a $450,000 mortgage provided by Vancity.

The Regional District of Nanaimo donated $150,000 and the society received a $65,000 grant from the BC Capital Gaming agency specifically for the homestead renovation.

The 14-month renovation to the building cost about $250,000. The society did its own general contracting and hired local tradespeople and purchased goods and services from local suppliers.

And volunteers donated extensive labour and materials.

The project managers scoured the island for vintage appropriate furnishings and helped repurpose and refit donations. Volunteers and EIS Board members did the interior design, dug trenches, stained woodwork, painted the bathtub and milled lumber for the bed platforms and decks.

The Homestead restoration required gutting the structure, then installing new electrical, water, heat, solar and septic systems, as well as new floors, plastered walls and new fixtures throughout.

 

WHO IS THE EIS?

Code says the EIS is a tiny society with a cohesive board that has diverse skills, including two registered foresters, economic development analyst, commercial and graphic designer, ethnobotanist, former city planner and an Indigenous liaison.

The EIS headquarters is at Wildwood although volunteer board members come from all over Vancouver Island, including current co-chair Peter Jungwirth, forester, who resides in the Comox Valley.

Wildwood Vice-Chair Peter Jungwirth of the Comox Valley

Jungwirth emigrated from Austria in 1998 with his wife, Heidi, who was originally from the Comox Valley. They met in Austria while she was teaching at an international school.

Jungwirth met Wilkinson in 1997 when he and Heidi visited the area prior to moving here permanently and was “hooked” on Wilkinson’s ideas.

“Foresters are always looking for a better way to manage forests,” he told Decafnation. “And the concept of ecoforestry hooked me in.”

Jungwirth said, “Merv’s legacy is a beautiful forest which he managed for more than 60 years that still has plenty of old-growth trees and thus is a prime teaching and demonstration forest.”

He called Wildwood the biggest hope for change in forestry in BC and the world.

“There is so much more to a forest than timber. There is food, medicine, wildlife, all kinds of vegetation, clean water & air, climate moderation, carbon storage, recreation potential and more, but above all it is an intricate ecosystem that we ought to steward and not destroy, ” he said. “For Ecoforestry, a healthy forest with a functioning ecology is the bottom line, everything else you manage for needs to submit to that goal. That is quite a contrast to industrial clearcut logging.”

Jungwirth said that the forests in Austria are 80 percent privately owned, but forest legislation does not permit anything bigger than patch cuts. With so much publicly-owned forests in BC, you would think public interests like biodiversity conservation or carbon storage against climate warming would be reflected more in the management,” he said.

He visited the Carmannah Valley after it was mostly logged and wondered “why did they have to fight so hard to keep at least some of the magnificent Old Growth forest with the tallest Sitka spruce in the world?”

“Europe made these mistakes, they took it (old-growth) all, and now there’s so little left in the world,” he said. “BC is well on its way there, too.”

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A SIMILAR PLAN FOR MACK LAING’S HERITAGE HOME, SHAKESIDES

The Mack Laing Heritage Society has proposed a plan to restore the home famous Comox ornithologist Hamilton Mack Laing. You can read the plan here.

 

 

HOW THE ECOFORESTRY INSTITUTE SOCIETY FORMED

EIS grew out of a movement in the mid-1990s as a number of academics from the University of Victoria and local environmentalists sought a better way to manage our rapidly depleting ecosystems. Founders include well-known luminaries:

Dr. Alan Drengson (contributor to the deep ecology movement and UVic Emeritus Professor of Philosophy);

Dr. Duncan Taylor (contributor to the deep ecology movement and UVic Professor of Environmental Studies);

Dr. Nancy Turner (ethnobotanist and UVic Emeritus Professor); and

Sharon Chow (Sierra Club Director for 20 years).

Merv Wilkinson himself was to become a member and was later awarded for his pioneering work in ecoforestry with the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia. Learn more about Merv here.

 

 

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Comox failed to consult with KFN over Mack Laing Park

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Heritage BC joins fight to save Shakesides, warns AG of dangerous precedent

Heritage BC joins fight to save Shakesides, warns AG of dangerous precedent

Is this the future of Shakesides? Photo shows the site of Mack Laing’s original home, Baybrook  /  George Le Masurier photo

Heritage BC joins fight to save Shakesides, warns AG of dangerous precedent

By George Le Masurier

Demolition of the famous naturalist Mack Laing’s heritage home could have reverberations throughout British Columbia for heritage conservation.

That’s the message from the province’s leading heritage conservation organization, which has thrown its weight behind the Mack Laing Heritage Society’s effort to stop the Town of Comox from demolishing the house, known as Shakesides.

Paul Gravett, executive director of Heritage BC, has urged BC Attorney General David Eby not to condone the “demolition by neglect” practice being used by the Town of Comox.

“If the court allows the terms of Mr. Laing’s trust to be altered, a precedent could be established that would discourage future donors, who fear their wishes could be altered or ignored, from making important gifts of real property. This poses a threat to the conservation of B.C.’s heritage,” Gravett wrote in a letter to the attorney general.

“The current state of Shakesides is a form of ‘demolition by neglect.’ this is a wholly unacceptable and irresponsible practice that results in the slow degradation of our historic environment. It should not be condoned,” he wrote.

Gravett has also filed an affidavit in the BC Supreme Court case that will decide Shakesides’ fate. The Town of Comox has petitioned the court to alter the terms of their trust agreement with Mack Laing, which would allow them to demolish the house and spend the sizable monetary trust Laing left the town in other ways.

The Mack Laing Heritage Society has opposed the town’s petition and will be a party to the case when it is heard. No court date has been set, but the case will likely go to trial this fall.

Gravett said the building, which still stands on its original site, is restorable.

“The proposal (by Comox) to demolish the structure is antithetical to heritage conservation and environmental conservation,” he wrote to AG Eby. “Shakesides should not be allowed to become landfill.”

In his affidavit, Gravett notes that he urged the town two years ago to reconsider its pursuit of court permission to demolish Shakesides. At the same time, he offered the town his organization’s “advice, capacity building training and assistance with conservation planning” to save the building.

Gravett also offered financial assistance through grants from the Heritage Legacy Fund program.

The Town of Comox rejected both offers.

“The replacement of Shakesides with the proposed viewing platform is inappropriate,” Gravett wrote to AG Eby. “The viewing platform would not stand as a memorial to Mr. Laing or the values of a community, but as the neglect of our history and heritage and the disregard of a philanthropist’s wishes.”

The BC Association of Heritage Professionals has also written to the attorney general in opposition to the Town of Comox petition.

 

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BC heritage professionals lobby cabinet ministers to conserve Shakesides

BC heritage professionals lobby cabinet ministers to conserve Shakesides

Hamilton Mack Laing at home in Shakesides during his last years  /  Archive photo

BC heritage professionals lobby cabinet ministers to conserve Shakesides

By George Le Masurier

The president of the BC Association of Heritage Professionals has lobbied the provincial Attorney-General and the minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to oppose the Town of Comox’s application to vary the charitable purpose trust of Hamilton Mack Laing.

Elana Zysblt, a Vancouver-based heritage consultant, says in letters sent Tuesday to AG David Eby and FLNROD Minister Doug Donaldson that the conservation of Laing’s home, known as Shakesides, “represents heritage values that extend much further than the boundaries of the Town of Comox.”

Heritage issues in British Columbia fall under the FLNROD portfolio and are managed by Roger Tinney.

Writing on behalf of the province’s heritage professionals, Zysblat expresses concern that municipalities such as Comox might be allowed to use a section (184) of the Community Charter to ignore and alter substantial gifts of money and property donated to the public in good faith.

FURTHER READING: Attorney general takes West Vancouver to court for breach of trust

The Community Charter sets out municipalities’ core areas of authority, such as municipal services, public health regulation and entering into agreements. Under section 184 if, in the opinion of a council, the terms or trusts imposed by a donor or will-maker are no longer in the best interests of the municipality, the council may apply to the Supreme Court to vary the terms of the trust.

This is the crux of the town’s application to vary the Laing trust and demolish Shakesides.

Gordon Olsen, a member of the Mack Laing Heritage Society, says the significance of Zysblat’s letters is a warning to the minister about the serious precedent the Shakesides case could set.

“If municipalities are allowed to ignore terms of agreements that` they have freely entered into that will have a chilling effect on future donators across the province,” Olsen told Decafnation.

But that isn’t the only point Zysblat makes in her letters. The Association of Heritage Professionals also believe Shakesides has significant heritage values and remains, despite the town’s neglect, in good condition for rehabilitation.

“In 2017, a Statement of Significance was completed to describe the heritage values of the place,” Zysblat wrote. “A condition assessment of the historic structure was also conducted in the same year by an independent heritage professional and structural engineer. The assessment concluded that the building is in good condition to be rehabilitated for adaptive re-use as envisioned by Hamilton Mack Laing.”

The Town of Comox has not requested any professional assessment of the building. But Comox Parks Manager Al Fraser told a public meeting in April that only a “cursory report” has been done, which he admitted was “not comprehensive.” Fraser called it a “soft pass.”

“Let’s say there’s still considerable work to be done in that regard,” Fraser told the public meeting.

As of July, the town still has not done that work and has yet to acknowledge the professional assessment by a structural engineer completed in 2017, according to Zysblat.

She also informs the two provincial government cabinet ministers that the town seems uninterested in other perspectives on Shakesides.

“Gord Macdonald, Heritage BC chair, shares our belief that the state heritage value of Shakesides demands that (Laing’s) former home be conserved for future generations,” Zysblat wrote. “And that 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 guarantees the town a provincial grant through the Heritage Legacy Fund Heritage Conservation Program.

“To this date, the Town of Comox has ignored this offer by Heritage BC.”

For more stories about Mack Laing, the Town of Comox and the legal proceedings, go here

 

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BC attorney general appears to argue both sides of cases similar to Mack Laing battle

BC attorney general appears to argue both sides of cases similar to Mack Laing battle

BC Archive photo

BC attorney general appears to argue both sides of cases similar to Mack Laing battle

By George Le Masurier

What should Comox Valley residents think about the BC Attorney General’s office arguing two different sides of similar cases?

The attorney general of BC announced last week that it would take the district of West Vancouver to court because the municipality allegedly broke an agreement with two residents who had bequeathed their property to the district.

But in the Comox Valley, the Attorney General’s office is defending the Town of Comox for breaking its agreement with Hamilton Mack Laing.

And it gets more interesting. The lead counsel for the AG’s office in both cases is Sointula Kirkpatrick.

FURTHER READING: More on Mack Laing 

According to a report from Glacier Media, which publishes several BC newspapers including the North Shore News, the AG’s lawsuit asks the BC Supreme Court to rule that West Vancouver is in breach of the trust.

Pearley and Noreen Berissenden gave their property to the district of West Vancouver in the late 1980s. The couple specified that the property was “to be used and maintained by it (the district) for public park purposes.”

When Mack Laing died in 1982, he left the town his waterfront property, his home named Shakesides, and the residue cash from his estate “for the improvement and development of my home as a natural history museum.”

The district of West Vancouver never followed through on their agreement with the Berissendens, and instead rented out the couple’s home on the property from 2001 to 2018. And in 2017, the district applied to vary the trust to subdivide about half of the property into building lots.

The Town of Comox likewise never followed through on the terms of its trust agreement with Laing, and also rented out Laing’s home for almost 30 years. In 2017, the town applied to vary the trust in order to demolish Shakesides.

AG lawyer Kirkpatrick alleges West Vancouver is in breach of the Berissenden’s trust for failing to make their property a park and for profiting from the rent, according to the Glacier Media report. Kirkpatrick has asked for an accounting of all all rent money received and that it be put back into the trust.

As well, Kirkpatrick, on behalf of the AG’s office, wants the court to order West Vancouver to make the property a park.

But Kirkpatrick has taken the exact opposite view when it comes to the Town of Comox versus Mack Laing.

In the Comox Valley case, Kirkpatrick has defended the town’s failure to make Laing’s home a natural history museum for public enjoyment and for profiting from renting out Shakesides, even though there hasn’t been an independent accounting of those funds and not all of the rent money has been returned to the trust, according to the Mack Laing Heritage Society.

Kirkpatrick has not responded to an email request asking her to explain the differences in the two cases.

She did, however, request a nearly five-month delay for the Supreme Court trial that will determine the fate of Shakesides. Kirkpatrick requested the delay in early May, well before filing the lawsuit against West Vancouver.

At the time, members of the Mack Laing society said they hoped the delay meant the Attorney General’s office was less certain about the merits of the town’s application to alter the trust and that it had new concerns about how Comox councils and staff have mishandled Laing’s gifts to the community.

Now they hope the West Vancouver lawsuit signals a change in direction at the AG’s office over municipal applications to vary citizen trusts. It is part of the Attorney General’s mandate to provide oversight of charitable purpose trusts.

No court date to hear the Shakesides case has been scheduled.

 

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Comox failed to consult with KFN over Mack Laing Park

Now that Chief Nicole Rempel has made it clear the Town of Comox failed to properly consult the K’omoks First Nations about plans to demolish Mack Laing’s heritage home, a serious question arises: With whom did town staff and council members consult?

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Harley-riding Hamilton Mack Laing fills the hall after 104 years

Harley-riding Hamilton Mack Laing fills the hall after 104 years

Archive photos courtesy of the Mack Laing Heritage Society

Harley-riding Hamilton Mack Laing fills the hall after 104 years

By Guest Writer

Che Guevara’s Motorcycle Diaries may be a second best to local legend, Hamilton Mack Laing’s account of his motorcycle ride from New York to the San Francisco World Exhibition of 1915.

One hundred and two years after he wrote The Transcontinentalist, this local legendary naturalist’s account of his journey on an early 14 horsepower Harley Davidson continues to fascinate Canadians, some of whom` easily filled the Courtenay Museum’s auditorium this week to hear readings from the new edition of his memoir by author Trevor Marc Hughes.

Hughes presented an animated and illustrated presentation of Hamilton Mack Laing’s previously unpublished memoir, under its new title, Riding the Continent, published by Ronsdale Press, and which is to be released July 15.

Author Trevor Mark Hughes reading excerpts at the Courtenay Museum this week

The lecture presented some of the rich silverpoint photos taken by Laing. The photos reveal a young Laing fresh out of the Pratt Institute Art programme as an early Ansel Adams, pushing the limits of wilderness landscape photography as an art form.

Laing, who built two famous houses of certified national heritage interest in Comox — Baybrook and Shakesides — lived here for many decades (1922-1982).

He was an illustrious early British Columbia writer and naturalist in his own right and is increasingly recognized for his many contributions to Canada’s scientific history. Notably as the mentor of Dr. MacTaggart-Cowan, who was himself the mentor of David Suzuki, and as an early influence on no less than the late Farley Mowat.

Although Laing was a giant in natural history, he is less known as a Harley-Davidson rider. Laing described himself in his mid-30s as a “motorcycle-naturalist.”

For several years beginning in 1914, Laing used the motorcycle to access the natural world, believing it gave him a distinct advantage over other forms of transportation. During this period in his life, he would take on a transcontinental journey, riding across the United States from Brooklyn to Oakland in 1915.

In his presentation of excerpts from Riding the Continent, Hughes presented the story of a pioneering motorcyclist and independently thinking naturalist, as well as an unusual road trip As a well-published motorcycle enthusiast and historian, Hughes ranks Laing’s account as “perhaps the best piece of motorcycle-writing” known to him.

As Laing put it, “the lure of the unending road is a call that will not be denied.”

Hughes pointed out that Laing’s tale presents his experience of a pre- First World War America unspoiled by real roads or automobiles. He meticulously presents the beauty of North America’s bird life, describes the sights, scenery and people he encountered, and takes us along for the ride on a 1915 Harley-Davidson he named Barking Betsy.

As North-America is becoming increasingly conscious of its natural heritage, this is undoubtedly the first of many books by and about Laing that will be coming forth this decade. Hughes’ excellent presentation made a great case that this book is a must for the bookshelves of Comox Valley residents wishing to understand Canada’s history.

Laing’s legacy lives on in his gifting of his house and property to the Town of Comox as a nature preserve. Laing left this gift to the Town of Comox in trust, and it is to be hoped that the Town of Comox will one day find the wisdom of respecting this important national treasure.

Riding the Continent will be available for purchase after July 15 ($19.95, Ronsdale Press).

 

 

WHO WAS MACK LAING?

Hamilton Mack Laing was an important Canadian naturalist, photographer and writer. He moved to Comox in 1922, cleared his land and built his home from a “Stanhope” Aladdin Ready-Cut kit. In 1927, he married Ethel Hart of Portland and they established a successful and commercial orchard which included walnut, pecan, filbert, hazelnut, apple and plum trees. They also grew mushrooms and vegetables. After his wife, Ethel, died in 1944, he sold his original home, Baybrook, and built a new home, Shakesides, on the adjoining lot. He bequeathed the waterfront property to the Town of Comox and it became Mack Laing Nature Park — excerpted from content on the Mack Laing Heritage Society‘s website.

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More Arts & Culture | Mack Laing

Comox failed to consult with KFN over Mack Laing Park

Now that Chief Nicole Rempel has made it clear the Town of Comox failed to properly consult the K’omoks First Nations about plans to demolish Mack Laing’s heritage home, a serious question arises: With whom did town staff and council members consult?

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AG delays Shakesides court date by nearly five months

AG delays Shakesides court date by nearly five months

File photo of Shakesides  /  George Le Masurier photo

AG delays Shakesides court date by nearly five months

By George Le Masurier

In a surprising new development, the BC Attorney General has requested a delay in the Supreme Court trial that will determine the fate of Shakesides, the heritage home of Comox pioneer Hamilton Mack Laing.

The Town of Comox had hoped to get its petition to alter Laing’s Trust and tear down his house before the court during its June session. The new delay means the case likely won’t be heard until October.

The town has already requested two three-month delays. The first came after the 2018 municipal election and pushed any possible court date to after Feb. 6, 2019. Then, Town Council asked for another three-month “abeyance,” which expires May 22.

Now, the Attorney General’s office is asking for a further delay of about five months.

A letter to the town and the Mack Laing Heritage Society, which is an opposing party to the case, announced the delay, but gave no specific reason or purpose for it.

Members of the Laing society hope it means the Attorney General’s office is less certain about the merits of the town’s application to alter the trust, and have new concerns about how Comox councils and staff have mishandled Laing’s gifts to the community.

It’s also not known what role the K’omoks First Nations intends to play in this controversy, which has pitted the town against voices for heritage preservation, moral obligation and civil law issues surrounding how local governments should handle citizen’s endowments.

Last month, K’omoks Chief Nicole Rempel expressed her disappointment that the Town Council had made plans for the Shakesides site, which is traditional and sacred land for First Nation’s people, “without prior consultation.” Rempel asked for a halt to all planning and other work until “meaningful consultation has taken place.”

But the town proceeded to refine its plan to replace the house with a viewing platform, which it finally approved this week.

According to the new deadlines for the Supreme Court trial, the heritage society has until Aug. 7 to submit any final documents into evidence. They have already submitted more than 500 pages of affidavits and other documents.

The town and the Attorney General then have until Sept. 4 to respond to those documents.

Another issue that might be weighing on the Attorney General’s office is how a judgement in the Shakesides case could affect other municipalities and other charitable purpose trusts across the province.

Have other municipalities mishandled trusts? How has the Attorney General’s office dealt with those issues, if they were aware of them? How widespread is the altering of trusts freely agreed to by generous citizens and local governments?

Because there is no provincial registry of charitable purpose trusts, the Attorney General’s office may not have known about the Laing Trust until the town petitioned to alter it, some 35 years later.

It is part of the Attorney General’s mandate to provide oversight of such trusts.

 

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Comox failed to consult with KFN over Mack Laing Park

Now that Chief Nicole Rempel has made it clear the Town of Comox failed to properly consult the K’omoks First Nations about plans to demolish Mack Laing’s heritage home, a serious question arises: With whom did town staff and council members consult?

Council vote sends Mack Laing Trust issue back to court

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