History of the Field Sawmill Site
The Field family retired the mill in 1969 selling it to Errol Zinck and Bill Phillips, two employees at the time (“A Look Back into The History of The Comox Valley, Field Sawmill”, 2013).
1940 – 1969
In the 1970’s, the mill owners were filling the marsh area between Courtenay River and Comox Rd, with an assortment of chips, oil cans and wire etc. Concerned residents stopped this and the landfilling was halted. In 1974, the Provincial NDP government paid $95,850 for 25.5 acres to prevent the owners at the time from destroying what is now called Hollyhock Marsh, reports Betty Donaldson (2010).
The owners of the mill sold it to Peter Gregory of Gregory Manufacturing Ltd. in 1973. Gregory then sold the mill to Primex Forest Products. The mill at that time was cutting and selling lumber (yellow) cedar to both the American and the Japanese markets. In the 1970s, the operation employed over 100 people and, at its peak 160.
In 2000, Primex started facing economic problems and began employee lay-offs. In 2001 Interfor bought out Primex and acquired the Fields Sawmill. The Mill experienced hard times again in 2003 – 2004. The mill closed often and in 2003 it operated at a loss of $8 million. The mill was decommissioned and closed officially in 2006.
In 2006, Interfor demolished the mill, auctioned off the equipment, and paid out severance to its employees. At this time, reclamation of the site was also undertaken to safely remove and dispose of industrial toxins. A number of test wells were drilled to determine the quantity and nature of toxic materials in the soils. Concrete was broken up, and toxic soils were excavated and removed from the site. The holes were backfilled with clean soils and the wells tested again to verify the site was reclaimed. The Province issued a Certificate of Compliance, verifying that the site now meets the highest standards.
The property was offered for sale in 2008.
Despite several offers to purchase, Interfor has chosen to work with Project Watershed and the larger community to achieve a conservation vision for the property.
Project Watershed and our guests had a wonderful evening at 40 KNOTS on September 11th, 2021. The Keeping It Living Dinner was spectacular.
We are excited to announce that as of the end of September, we finished the removal, crushing and re-purposing of the surface concrete at Kus-kus-sum. All crushed concrete was successfully repurposed offsite to projects throughout the Comox Valley to be used as fill and road base. As we removed the surface material, we uncovered a few areas with additional sub-surface concrete.
Happy Technician Tuesday! The team has been busy assisting at the Kus-kus-sum site these past few weeks. Caila Holbrook, Project Watershed’s Manager of Fundraising and Outreach, has been organizing our efforts.
Thanks to the dedicated work of our contractors, Copcan Civil Ltd., the majority of the concrete on the Kus-kus-sum site has been removed, and piled and crushed.
The family of Micah Messent would like to announce their support of the Kus-kus-sum restoration project, and Project Watershed, through the creation of the Micah Messent Legacy Fund. The fund will support the restoration of Kus-kus-sum and Project Watershed’s work to further Micah’s legacy within and beyond the Comox Valley.
Join Project Watershed for our 2021 Keeping It Living Dinner at 40 KNOTS to celebrate environmental restoration and research in the Comox Valley.