Our Town

Ladysmith plan for waterfront must create 'linkages' to rest of town, architect says

Stz'uminus Chief John Elliot addresses the crowd at the speakers night at Aggie Hall earlier this month.
— image credit: Mike Gregory/Ladysmith Chronicle

Ladysmith and Stz’uminus First Nation have embarked on a renewed plan for shaping the waterfront but will have to tackle how to best create ‘linkages’ between the area and the rest of town, according to Norm Hotson,  the architect who helped shape Granville Island.

“You have a serious challenge here - both a topographical challenge and the barrier that the highway presents between the town site and waterfront,” said Hotson, at a speakers night on earlier this month at Aggie Hall.

“I think this is something that we really need to address to make this waterfront work.”

Close to 200 local residents attended the event to hear from local politicians, former Stz’uminus First Nation chief Ray Harris, as well as Hotson and Ouri Scott of Dialog Design - a Vancouver-based firm hired to lead the planning and engagement process.

The area under consideration stretches from Fisherman’s Wharf, or Government Dock, to Slack Point and includes the land up to the Trans-Canada Highway.

Several residents who spoke at the event emphasized that cleaning up the harbour should be a priority, while others raised the potential of capturing the area’s history in a new plan.

Resident Rob Johnson said the harbour isn’t “pristine” but there had been significant improvements to industry and the town’s historical impacts.

“As a person who has done the harbour tours for ten plus years...I see that there is a lot of life in the harbour,” he said. “I see the seals, I see the eagle population increasing, I see salmon jumping in the harbour.”

Harris also said anything was possible with the First Nation and town working together.

“Finally, I’m thinking the two owners of the harbour are going to work together to clean this up,” Harris said, responding to a comment about the pollution. “If we all stay positive about this thing we’re going to fix it - we need your help.”

The three phase project, a partnership between the town and the Stz’uminus First Nation, is scheduled to be completed in June 2017 when a final plan will be presented to the community.

An online survey was also launched on Feb. 1 and is available for residents to weigh-in with their opinion at http://fluidsurveys.com/s/ourwaterfront/.

At the closing of the evening, both Stz’uminus and Ladysmith councils stood together in front of the packed crowd.

Chief John Elliot said the partnership and cooperation between the two sides will ensure the best plan comes out of the process.

“This isn’t about whose side of the harbour it is...this is about moving forward and making change for our children,” he said.

Mayor Aaron Stone said they are focused on solutions for the future.

“We want to continue to hear that feedback included as part of this process so we can make sure that we address the hopes, dreams and concerns of everyone involved” Stone said. “We have to stay positive and look forward, not look back.”

Dialog Design’s background analysis and results of the engagement process will come together in March as part of an important stakeholder meeting.

Hotson said a key component is creating a plan for Ladysmith’s waterfront that is self-sustaining.

“Tourists should been seen as the icing on the cake. The project has to work all year regardless of weather and temperature and you have to make them locally based to be truly successful.”


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