Jonathan Kerr focused on housing, doctor shortage, creating a healthy community

Jonathan Kerr focused on housing, doctor shortage, creating a healthy community

Dr. Jonathan Kerr wants everyone in Comox to have a family doctor. He personally recruited four new doctors to the Valley this year  |  George Le Masurier photo

Jonathan Kerr focused on housing, doctor shortage, creating a healthy community


How does a Comox family doctor and former president of the 12,000-member Ontario College of Family Physicians diagnose the issues that matter most to the people of his community? With a scientific approach, of course.

And what is the prescription from Dr. Jonathan Kerr, a candidate for the open seat on Comox Town Council? He is proposing a variety of measures that connect the health of individuals with the health of the community and the health of the environment.

Comox will hold a by-election on Saturday, Nov. 27 to fill the seat vacated by Partick McKenna, who recently relocated to Nova Scotia.

McKenna has endorsed Kerr, as have three sitting council members Nicole Minions, Stephanie McGowan and Alex Bissinger.

Kerr publicly announced his candidacy in August, but he began preparing for the job 10 months ago. In January, he launched an intensive community self-education program that balanced attending every council meeting with a multi-faceted “listening campaign” that engaged a cross-section of town residents throughout the spring, summer and fall.

“My favorite style of leadership is servant leadership. That means listening to people and discovering what they need and empowering them to achieve it,” he told Decafnation this week.

To hear what’s on the minds of Comox residents, Kerr has attended neighborhood coffee parties and, of course, he’s been knocking on doors.

But he also had one of the busiest booths at the downtown Comox Sidewalk Sale where people could place stickers on a board to “vote” for the town’s most important or pressing issues. He ran a similar survey online and mailed out cards to town residents with a send-in survey form.

He organized a Community Listening Event in September that was attended by more than 100 people plus representatives from 25 Comox Valley nonprofit organizations.

“Everyone there, including me, learned a lot about the needs of our citizens and how each nonprofit is trying to address them,” Kerr said. “It was enlightening.”

Kerr also admits to being “a bit of a policy nerd,” so he has attended every open council meeting over the past 12 months to understand the multitude of issues that come before the council.

“I want to be as prepared as possible to hit the ground running if I’m elected,” he said.



All of that listening and voter feedback has helped him identify the top issues on people’s minds.

Topping that list were a variety of concerns related to the health of our environment, such as protecting our parks, forests, shorelines and wildlife, air quality, preserving our town’s tree canopy, promoting local healthy food and taking action on climate change.

“Comox could be a leader in addressing climate change, for example, by converting the town’s fleet to 100 percent electric vehicles,” he said.

Kerr uses the creation of bike lanes as an example of how the town could create healthier people (more exercise) and a healthier environment (fewer cars on the road). He pointed to countries like the Netherlands where bike transit is the norm and, as a result, people connect with each other and their community.

Affordable housing was next on the list of people’s concerns, which is not surprising in a community where real estate prices have reached or surpassed most other BC cities and towns.

It has, unfortunately, become common that people are “couch surfing” and that the volume of applications for Habitat for Humanity houses has skyrocketed.

Kerr believes that the town must redefine “affordable housing.”

He notes that the average rent in BC has increased 7.2 percent over the previous quarter, and rent prices in BC are now the highest in the country.

“For a Comox resident who hasn’t seen a change in their wages in the past year, a place to live that was once affordable a couple of years ago is no longer attainable,” he said.

Even though there are currently two multi-unit housing developments underway in the town, Comox will still have a high percentage of single-family houses.

“We need to do more to increase housing density close to downtown Comox and encourage more duplex and triplex housing and more mixed-use commercial buildings with residential units above,” he said. “And all new development projects should include affordable units.”

Kerr praised the Aspen apartment development near the Quality Foods store because it includes dedicated affordable units. And he gave kudos to the redevelopment of high-quality seniors housing on Balmoral (Comox Valley Affordable Housing Society).

“We need to do more of that,” he said.

The number three issue on people’s minds was finding a family doctor. It’s an issue affecting many BC communities.

Kerr says there are about 14,000 Comox Valley residents that do not have a dedicated family doctor. One of his goals is that everyone in Comox will have a family physician.

The Sea Cove Medical Clinic on Beaufort Avenue next to the Blackfin Pub where Kerr is the lead physician and has personally recruited four new doctors since January, doubling the clinic’s number of family physicians to eight. He hopes to recruit four more family doctors to Comox next year.

As a member of the Comox Valley Division of Family Practice recruitment committee, he believes the community will be best served by a Valley-wide coordinated approach to bringing more doctors to town, rather than relying on individual physician groups.

He says recruiting a physician requires an appeal to the spouse and their entire family and introducing them to the Comox Valley’s amenities, nature parks and beaches.

And Kerr is eager to dispel a myth about the Comox Valley’s particular doctor shortage. It is not caused by a declining number of family physicians, he says, although a number of doctors have recently retired. There are more doctors serving the community than ever before, but the Valley’s population has grown even faster.



Kerr has been endorsed by a local group of Comox residents known as “Comox Greens,” which he says is different from the BC Green Party, and not a political party.

“It’s a group with whom I share values, such as sustainability, social justice, respect for diversity, nonviolence, participatory democracy and ecological wisdom. These are known as “green values” and they transcend politics,” he said.

Comox Town Councillor Nicole Minions told Decafnation that “In early 2021 we formed Comox Greens, which is a new electoral organization with shared views for the Town of Comox. We support long-term sustainability, social justice and respect for diversity.”

Kerr has received some criticism for aligning himself with the group, even though all municipal government candidates receive support from people or groups of people who share the same values.

“I’m just being 100 percent transparent. If you vote for me, you know my values and what I stand for. That doesn’t mean block voting. I support independent voting by every council member and I will also vote in the best interests of my constituency,” he said.

“I’m just being clear about what I’m about.”



Kerr believes the Mack Laing trust agreement controversy needs a resolution soon in order to heal the wounds that have divided the community.

And he thinks the debate could be defused if the parties sat down and talked to each other.

“I’ve talked to all the parties to this problem and they agree on about 98 percent of the details,” he said. “I would offer to mediate a resolution if there was an opportunity.”

As a family physician, Kerr often counsels patients on difficult matters. He has found that most often people with marriage problems, for example, need to restart communications.

“Polarization occurs when dialogue stops,” he said. “A healthy community benefits from increased transparency by their local government.”



Kerr earned his Doctor of Medicine from the University of Toronto in 2006 and did Post-Graduate Family Medicine training at Queen’s University. He practiced family medicine in Belleville, Ont. prior to moving to the Comox Valley.

He served as president of the Ontario College of Family Physicians and served on its board for nine years, including one year as chair. He has also served on the board of directors for the College of Family Physicians Canada and currently sits on the Advisory Committee for the Comox Valley Division of Family Practice.

He and his wife Christy and their two children vacationed on Vancouver Island in 2014 and moved to the Valley later that year. He joined the Sea Cove Medical Clinic in 2015, where he is currently the lead physician.

Kerr actively competes in the sport of Biathlon and coaches youth eight to 18 in rifle marksmanship and cross-country skiing with the Vancouver Island Biathlon Club.

He’s also a volunteer with the Brooklyn Creek Watershed Society, and previously served on the Coalition to End Homelessness, Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society and is treasurer of the Navigate School Parent Advisory Council.








Age 41. Came to the Comox Valley in 2014.

B.Sc. Queen’s University, Doctor of Medicine, University of Toronto, Post-Graduate Family Medicine training, Queen’s University

Family practice in Belleville, Ont. and joined the Sea Cove Medical Clinic in 2015, assuming lead physician role in 2020. A past president of the Ontario College of Family Physicians and past board member of the Canada-wide college, and currently serves on the Advisory Committee for the Comox Valley Division of Family Practice


“I have known Dr. Kerr for many years and he is the perfect person to fill my seat on Council. Jonathan is dedicated to the health and well-being of the residents of Comox and I know he has the listening skills, passion, intelligence, and decision-making ability needed for the role. I endorse Dr. Kerr for Comox Council 100%.” — Pat McKenna, outgoing Councillor, Town of Comox

“I wholeheartedly endorse Dr. Jonathan Kerr for our Town of Comox Council in this by-election. His dedication to his work, family, and community shows up in everything he does. He is knowledgeable, hard-working, and holds a unique moral and ethical code that our community and world needs more of. I have known Jonathan for the past couple of years through his active volunteerism in the Valley. I and those around me have seen how community-minded, thoughtful, intelligent and balanced Jonathan has been in his approach to all things he endeavours.” — Nicole Minions, Councillor, Town of Comox

“Jonathan is one of the brightest people I know. He is passionate, energetic, and gets things done. As a councillor for the Town of Comox, I would see him contributing valuable input to our decision-making, especially with mitigating climate change and tackling the shortages of affordable housing.” — Alex Bissinger, Councillor, Town of Comox

“Dr. Kerr would contribute a compassionate, logical, caring, and science-based voice to the Council table. I believe he has a genuine commitment to the health and well-being of Comox residents and I would be excited to work with him. We have had many conversations and I feel like his intelligence, his experience and his understanding of the social determinants of health will be a positive addition to the table. I believe we have a lot of values in common and think he would have a positive impact on the Valley.” — Stephanie McGowan, Councillor, Town of Comox



Election day is Saturday, Nov. 27 at Comox Recreation Centre

Advance voting will take place on Nov. 17, 20 and 24 at the Genoa Sail building in Marina Park

Mail-in ballots are available here




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The Week: violations at Seniors Village, applause for Wendy Morin, solving homelessness

The Week: violations at Seniors Village, applause for Wendy Morin, solving homelessness

George Le Masurier photo

The Week: violations at Seniors Village, applause for Wendy Morin, solving homelessness


This week, Decafnation reported a story that other Comox Valley media have been afraid to tackle: the endemic problems of regulatory non-compliance at Comox Valley Seniors Village, and the failure of Island Health to properly supervise this privately-owned long-term care facility.

Three residents died as an indirect result of a recent norovirus outbreak at Seniors Village and the facility, which was lacking supervisors in senior management positions at the time, did not follow required cleaning protocols during and after the event.

It took a small group of family members of Seniors Village residents to raise awareness of the outbreak, even to Island Health, and demand corrective action.

Privatization in the healthcare industry too often results in extreme cost-cutting to boost profits for shareholders and puts patients and residents at risk. There are some good private operators, although nonprofit organizations, such as Glacier View Lodge and The Views at St. Joseph are better suited to provide reliably quality care for loved ones.

Island Health needs to either take over Seniors Village, as the family members have requested, or step up its regulatory supervision of the facility.

They could start down that road by discontinuing the ludicrous practice of telling care facilities when they plan to do inspections. Inspections should be a surprise in order to see the facility in its everyday state without the advantage of several weeks to shine things up.


Did Russ Arnott not read the letter from KFN?

Many weeks ago, K’omoks First Nation Chief Nicole Rempel wrote a letter to Comox Mayor Russ Arnott and council members expressing disappointment and concern that the town had made plans for replacing Mack Laing’s heritage house with a viewing platform without any prior consultation.

But the council has apparently ignored Chief Rempel’s concerns.

At a recent meeting, council members went ahead and approved revisions to the town’s plan for a viewing platform at the site, which is sacred First Nations ground, including middens, without including KFN in the redesign process.

Mayor Arnott was quoted as saying that presenting the finished redesign to KFN would be acting as “friendly neighbours and showing what we’re doing.”

Did he not read the letter? KFN wants prior consultation. They want to be involved in what the town hopes to do with Mack Laing’s house, called Shakesides. They do not want to be disrespected by being shown a redesign as a fait accompli.

KFN doesn’t want to be ‘friendly neighbors.’ They want to be active participants.

We anticipate that due to the mayor’s and council’s blind spot that another letter from KFN may be forthcoming.


Applause, please, for Courtenay Councillor Wendy Morin

When the Youth Environmental Action (YEA) group made a presentation to the Comox Valley Regional District board about climate change and the need for urgent action, they received an unusual response from several directors.

We won’t name them, but these directors responded to the presentation by nitpicking the students’ PowerPoint slides. They made all kinds of suggestions about how to improve the readability and attractiveness of their slides, without so much as mentioning the content.

Thankfully, Courtenay Councillor and CVRD Director Wendy Morin took the microphone and admonished her colleagues. When have we ever critiqued a delegations PowerPoint slides before, Morin asked?

Her question got the board back on track to consider the students’ important message.


What it would take to solve homelessness?

Jill Severn, a friend of Decafnation and a pioneer in the US micro-housing solution for homelessness, recently wrote an article about the real causes of this problem. We’re reprinting excerpts of her article today, most of which applies equally to Canada.

As long as we are only talking about how to “respond” to homelessness, we are caught in a trap, because our society is churning out more homeless people faster than we can provide even the most elemental humanitarian responses to their suffering. Somehow, we need to tackle the challenge of how to prevent homelessness.

The big picture of prevention would start with a lot more housing and a lot less poverty.

That would require a reversal of decades of cuts to federal housing programs, and a national shift toward a dramatic reduction in income inequality, starting with a higher minimum wage and significant investments in free, effective job training and safety net programs.

And beyond that, there’s a long list of very specific unmet needs that target intergenerational poverty. For example, we need:

— universal early childhood education, starting with visiting nurses who help new parents bond with their babies and understand what babies and toddlers need to thrive;

— a child welfare system that is fully funded, with social workers who are well paid and not overworked to the point of burnout;

— public schools where all adult relationships with students are based on deep caring, cultural competence, respect, and high expectations;

— easy-to-access mental health services for people of every age, without stigma; addiction treatment on demand, and robust harm reduction programs for people who aren’t ready for treatment;

— criminal justice reforms that focus on rehabilitation, and expand rather than foreclose future employment opportunities;

— an end to racism, gender discrimination, and homophobia;

— a spiritual renewal based not on dogma, but on the simple, universal value of loving our neighbors – all of them – not just in theory but in practice.

Achieving these goals would result in a better educated, healthier and more prosperous society. And that’s the only kind of 21st century society in which homelessness will not be a chronic problem.

To create that society, we need to do more than sit at the bottom of a cliff talking about how to help the ever-growing number of our neighbors who have fallen off.

And we need to have realistic expectations about how much of this problem can be solved at the local, regional, or even state level. The scale of growing homelessness – which is the most extreme result of the hopelessness that poverty engenders – requires a national response from a functional, purposeful federal government that makes reducing poverty a top priority.

Our local measures do make a difference. Even if the city and its local partners cannot solve the problem of homelessness, we can (and already do) make an immense difference in the lives of those who are helped to find housing and reclaim their lives.

And even those who remain homeless benefit from the services, meals, and shelter provided by the city, and by our local network of nonprofits, faith communities, and big-hearted volunteers.





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Council vote sends Mack Laing Trust issue back to court

Council vote sends Mack Laing Trust issue back to court


Council vote sends Mack Laing Trust issue back to court


Comox Town Council voted 5-2 this week to continue designing a viewing platform to replace naturalist Mack Laing’s heritage home, rejecting any other proposals for the property, as it prepares to head back to the BC Supreme Court.

The town has petitioned the court to alter the 37-year old trust left by one of the community’s pioneers, even though it has done nothing over nearly four decades to live up to the terms of the trust.

The recent vote at this week’s regular council meeting was on a motion by Councillor Ken Grant to proceed with one of three options presented to council by Chief Administrative Officer Richard Kanigan.

The option referred to in Grant’s motion was to send comment sheets from the March 27 public workshop back to the designers of the viewing platform and to request a redesign. It was amended to include input from K’omoks First Nation and the Mack Laing Heritage Society.

The other two options were to approve the original concept and, lastly, to “consider a completely different proposal as decided by council.”

By rejecting the last option, Town Council has effectively abandoned any thoughts of saving Shakesides, and will eventually pursue its original petition to the court with a slightly different platform design.

Councillors Nicole Minions and Stephanie McGowan cast the only two votes opposing the motion.

“Councillor McGowan and I voted against moving forward with the platform as we want to explore options around Shakesides,” Minions told Decafnation via email after the meeting.

Councillor Alex Bissinger, who voted with the majority to approve the motion, said her understanding of the vote was “that it will be up to the AG (Attorney General’s office) to decide whether or not saving Shakesides is in the books.”

All three councillors — Minions, McGowan and Bissinger — voiced their frustration with the public workshop process, which they felt was unfairly manipulated in favor of a viewing platform. Mayor Russ Arnott did not present workshop participants with any option other than a viewing platform.

The Mack Laing Heritage Society wanted workshop participants to consider its proposal for saving Shakesides as a community volunteer project, but town staff, with the Arnott’s support, denied the MLHS workshop participation as well as a later request to host a table outside of the workshop meeting room.

The three councillors also refuted Arnott’s characterization of a March 6 council decision as affirming that saving Shakesides was no longer an option.

The three councillors said they did not vote at that meeting to demolish Shakesides, only that whether the house was saved or not, some details of the trust couldn’t be honored and needed court approval to forego them.

Arnott became combative as each councillor spoke in turn, often interrupting each speaker. He interrupted Councillor Minions often, once to admonish her for saying council voted on Feb. 6 to put the matter into abeyance for three months.

Arnott said the abeyance wasn’t for three months, rather for “up to three months.” Yet, he did not bother to correct CAO Kanigan’s report, which they were discussing at the time, that also stated “the three month abeyance ….”

Under normal codes of conduct, only one councillor or director of a municipal government has the floor at any one time, and other councillors or directors show respect by refraining from interrupting or calling out comments during that time.

Arnott appeared to be debating each of the three women as they voiced their concerns.

The day after the Town Council meeting, Arnott reached out via email to MLHS President Kris Nielsen to invite him or another representative of the society to participate in last-minute design changes to the platform.

Nielsen declined the offer because he said spending time on the design of a viewing platform was premature, referring to possible outcomes of the now inevitable Supreme Court trial that might deny the town’s petition.

“So for me to entertain some speculative designs/problems is just not in the cards,” Nielsen wrote to Arnott. “I could point out the image of the cart way out in front of the horse picture, but I will refrain from that.”

The town’s petition was first heard by a Supreme Court Justice last April.

A court ruling on the town’s petition could have been made nearly a year ago, but the three Supreme Court dates held so far have been consumed with attempts by the town to deny the MLHS an ability to present its evidence to the court.

The town eventually lost that battle and the upcoming trial will hear evidence from the town and the Attorney General’s office, as well as the Mack Laing Heritage Society.



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Town creates confusion, rift over Mack Laing process

Town creates confusion, rift over Mack Laing process

Hamilton Mack Laing  — BC Archive photo

Town creates confusion, rift over Mack Laing process


Rather than create a period of community reconciliation over the 37-year mishandling of the Mack Laing Trust, the Town of Comox has used its self-imposed 90-day abeyance of legal action to ignore opposing visions for the famed naturalist’s park and heritage home.

In doing so, the town has also created a rift within the Town Council.

It now appears that, despite the expectations of the public and some council members, the Town of Comox never intended to discuss options for saving the famous naturalist’s home, called Shakesides, during the abeyance.

Since the Feb. 6 Town Council meeting when the abeyance was passed on a 6-1 vote, the town has not entertained any ideas other than its original plan to demolish the house and erect a viewing platform.

The town has not held any good faith discussions with the Mack Laing Heritage Society to search for mutually agreeable ideas that could avert a lengthy and costly trial at the B.C. Supreme Court. Nor has it called for an external, independent audit to determine an accurate accounting of the trust’s current value.

This approach appears to be driven primarily by Mayor Russ Arnott, who cast the only vote against creating the 90-day abeyance.

In public communications, the office of Arnott and town Chief Administrative Officer Richard Kanigan has suggested that because council voted on March 6 to continue “with the modification of the trust in its current format or a modified proposal,” that, therefore, saving Shakesides is no longer an option.

Arnott reinforced that interpretation at last week’s Committee of the Whole meeting and public engagement workshop on visions for Mack Laing Park. Arnott was asked by a Comox resident why the workshop was limited to considering only a single vision — the viewing platform.

“Council voted for modifying the trust. We’re moving forward, not going backwards,” Arnott said.

But not all council members agree with Arnott’s interpretation.

“Speaking for myself, that is not what I voted in support of,” Councillor Alex Bissinger said in an email response to Decafnation.

“My intent with that motion was from the understanding that anything that defers from 1. restoring the house and converting it to a nature museum 2. having an onsite caretaker 3. having the property in that exact location and 4. storing (Mack Laing) artifacts in said museum, would require modifications to the trust, therefore needing to proceed with the court action,” she said.

Bissinger brought the motion forward to council.

“I am still of the opinion and mindset that saving Shakesides is an option, and from the workshop held last week an interesting option came to light, which was to handle it all as a community project. I have emailed the CAO and Council such that this option be discussed in our RCM (regular council meeting) Wednesday,” she said.

Councillor Stephanie has a similar perspective.

“Due to the specifics of the trust, I believe it is going to have to be modified in some way as I don’t believe archives and certain things are feasible and safe to keep on site without risk of damage. However, this vote, in my mind, did not mean Shakesides being restored was not an option,” she said in an email response.

“There seems to be some confusion, however, and as a team, (we) will need to clarify, both with each other and the public,” McGowan said.

Councillor Nicole Minions declined to comment, but did say, “We will be discussing Mack Laing and the Public Session during our upcoming Regular Council meeting this Wednesday, April 3rd, which will open communication of our Council business in the public.”

Arnott did not respond to a request to comment for this story.


What is the value of Laing’s trust?

The exact current value of the financial trust Mack Laing left to the Town of Comox has never been conclusively determined by an external audit.

The town claims Laing left $48,000, an amount disputed by by the Mack Laing Heritage Society. They say the amount was about $60,000.

After the town confessed to spending trust money inappropriately since the world-renowned naturalist died in 1982, they added funds that brought the total to $261,474. But according to an independent audit commissioned by Comox resident Gordon Olsen several years ago, the trust should be valued closer to $500,000.

The discrepancies stem from how the money was invested, the revenue received from renting the house for more than 30 years, missing funds from the sale of Laing artwork and donations to a never established Art Trust, unrecognized inappropriate expenditures and other miscellaneous items.

Only an external audit by an external accounting firm, such as Deloitte or KPMG, could bring closure to that issue.


Is the building worth saving?

Those who support tearing down Shakesides and replacing it with a viewing stand believe the building is not worth restoring. The Mack Laing society disagrees.

At last week’s public workshop, Comox Resident John Tayless noted there was an assumption being made at the meeting that Shakesides could not be saved.

“But other engineers say it can and that the building is recoverable,” he said.

Asked how the town determined the building wasn’t restorable, Comox Parks Manager Al Fraser said a “cursory report” was done, but he admitted it was “not comprehensive.” Fraser preferred to call the report a “soft pass.”

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

And later when MLHS President Kris Nielsen asked if the town had commissioned any professional assessments of the heritage value of Shakesides, Fraser said, “no.”

The Mack Laing society has organized more than two dozen community volunteers from the construction industry and created a business plan for restoring Shakesides as a community project.


Comox Heritage Register

Councillor Stephanie McGowan gave notice of a motion expected at this week’s council meeting to establish a Comox Heritage Register. Comox is the only municipality in the Mid- and North Island that doesn’t already have a heritage register.

Registering buildings with heritage value opens up a broad range of potential funding for maintenance and capital improvements. Heritage sites like the Filberg Lodge and The Little Red Church could benefit.

The Mack Laing Heritage Society has already paid a provincial heritage consultant to complete a Statement of Significance for Shakesides and Heritage BC has promised substantial grant funding for its restoration.

The chairman of Heritage B.C., a provincial agency committed to “conservation and tourism, economic and environmental sustainability, community pride and an appreciation of our common history,” believes the heritage value of Shakesides demands that Laing’s former home should be “conserved for … future generations” and that the Town of Comox should “use the building in ways that will conserve its heritage value.”

Heritage B.C. has also offered its assistance, at no charge, to the Town of Comox, for the duration of the process to repurpose Shakesides, and has all but guaranteed a provincial grant through the Heritage Legacy Fund Heritage Conservation program.



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MLHS issues letter of thanks to Comox Council

MLHS issues letter of thanks to Comox Council

Mack Laing Heritage Society archive photo

MLHS issues letter of thanks to Comox Council


The Mack Laing Heritage Society this morning issued an open letter to the Town of Comox mayor and council. Here is their letter:

We, the Mack Laing Heritage Society of the Comox Valley (MLHS), wish to take this opportunity to thank Comox Council. Their decision to postpone any decision related to the Mack Laing Shakesides house Trust property, for three months, is to be commended.

We are encouraged that Comox appears willing to discuss their duties and obligations, as trustees of the Mack Laing Trust. We fully support an open, public, and transparent discussion between the MLHS, Council, and others.

Expert and accurate estimates of time, materials and cost should be sought regarding the conversion of Shakesides into a nature museum/house, as outlined in Mack Laing’s Will and Trust. The MLHS has found many interested local companies and individuals willing to support and assist in all aspects of this project. There are undoubtedly many more who would come forward, if a true community project is approved by Council. Cost to the taxpayer could therefore be minimal.

The MLHS will shortly issue a public position paper. We have always stated that close adherence to the terms of Mack Laing’s Will and Trust is necessary for the success of a modest nature house or museum. Therefore, we support a community-funded and supported Shakesides facility.

Soon, Shakesides could realistically become what Mack Laing intended on his death in 1982 – a small public education facility in the quiet nature park he loved, and which he donated to the citizens of Comox.

The Mack Laing Heritage Society can be contacted at







Mack Laing

Comox Town Council

Russ Arnott, Mayor:

Alex Bissinger:

Nicole Minions:

Patrick McKenna:

Ken Grant:

Maureen Swift:

Stephanie McGowan:


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