Mack Laing’s historic home, Shakesides, is pictured on August 6th, 2018. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio
COMOX, B.C. – The fate of the Mack Laing Trust will be decided in February.
Comox Town Council voted on Wednesday to defer any decision regarding the modification of the trust until Feb. 6. This will allow time for council members to fully consider all of the previous background information related to the application to modify the trust, as well as the “Realistic Business Plan For Shakesides Nature House.”
The Town has an active application before the court, seeking approval to modify the Mack Laing Trust from the current requirements to convert Mack Laing’s former residence, ‘Shakesides’ to a nature house and instead, remove ‘Shakesides’ and construct a viewing platform with the funds that are currently held in the Mack Laing Trust Fund.
According to a report from the Town’s CEO Richard Kanigan, the Mack Laing Heritage Society (MLHS) has objected to the Town’s proposal. The society wants the town to fulfill the original terms of the Trust.
The MLHS has submitted a report “A Realistic Business Plan for Shakesides Nature House” for the Town to consider.
“I think it’s important for all seven of us to (have) them (the MLHS) come and present their business case,” Councillor Nicole Minions said.
“I am in favour of deferring this, I think there is too much information to digest,” Councillor Maureen Swift said.
She later added, “The matter’s in the courts, and if we are going to reconsider this I think we do need to defer it so everybody has a chance to respond. I think deferring it to sometime in early February would be worthwhile.”
Staff put forward four options for Council to consider and members approved Option Three.
Option One – That after Council’s review of the attached materials and the document entitled “A Realistic Business Plan for Shakesides Nature House” as submitted by Gorden Olsen, resolves to move forward with the application to modify the trust.
Option Two – That council extend an invitation to representatives of the MLHS to attend council’s regular meeting on Dec. 12 and present to council more information regarding the “Realistic Business Plan for Shakesides Nature House.”
Option Three – That Council defer any decision regarding the modification of the trust until Jan. 16 (changed to Feb. 6). This will allow time for council members to fully consider all of the previous background information related to the application to modify the trust, as well as the “Realistic Business Plan For Shakesides Nature House.”
Option Four – That Council suspend further action on the application to modify the Mack Laing Trust.
History of Mack Laing
In 1973, Hamilton Mack Laing deeded his property and home to the Town of Comox.
Since 1983, the Town of Comox has operated Mack Laing Nature Park, adding trails and interpretive signs to foster the public’s appreciation of nature.
In 1982, Mack Laing also gave, in trust, the residual cash from his estate to the Town of Comox.
Currently, the Town of Comox is seeking a variance to the terms of this trust to allow for the funds to be spent on the construction and maintenance of a new viewing platform at the site of Shakesides, the current home on the property.
Plans for the viewing platform are currently on hold as the Town awaits the B.C. Supreme Court’s decision regarding the trust – a decision that could come by the end of 2018.
“In gifting his property to the Town of Comox, Mack Laing intended it to be used for public enjoyment, namely recreation and conservation,” Kanigan said.
“Council and staff respect that intent and are proposing a practical and feasible project, one that honours the spirit of Mr. Laing’s wishes.”
Informational materials about the park – including future updates – will be hosted on the Mack Laing Nature Park’s webpage.