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.
The Kus-kus-sum project made great progress last year and large scale changes are planned to continue this year. We held a forum to share our restoration plans mid June, and have posted much of that information here as well. If you missed the virtual meeting, you can watch the recording on this page.
We are running the Sponsor a Salmon Fundraiser again this year to fill up the Kus-kus-sum fence and raise funds to complete the restoration.
We are starting Year II restoration works at the Kus-kus-sum site the last week of June! To learn more about this process, please join us for our virtual public community forum on June 16th at 6:30pm.
Drone Footage of Planting ~ RickskopterK'omoks First Nation Welcome by Elder Donna Mitchell and Councillor Katherine Frank ~ Graeme RobetsonPlanting and watering ~ Caila Holbrook I wanted to give a big, heart-felt thank you to all the volunteers who came out to help...
We have some materials available from the first phase of the restoration at Kus-kus-sum.
Currently, most of the remaining concrete is in the form of a 170m-long wall buried just behind the steel-piling wall that separates our site from the Courtenay River. Removing this concrete wall is the next step of our restoration and will be undertaken over the next 2 weeks.