Ladysmith’s Economic Development Strategy was profiled as a model for community revitalization in the Island Coastal Economic Trust, (ICET) 2019 annual report.
The profile details efforts made by various community stakeholders to rapidly mobilize economic development efforts, including the Town of Ladysmith, Stz’uminus First Nation, Economic Development Cowichan, Ladysmith Downtown Business Association, Nanaimo Airport Authority, Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce, and Community Futures Central Island.
ICET praised the ability of the groups to unite on a common goal and move forward with economic development efforts. The report states “Collaboration between stakeholders with different needs and aspirations can be challenging, however the partnership quickly evolved into a model demonstrating how to bring multiple organizations – and a community – together under one common objective.”
As part of the economic development strategy, the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce has taken on the task of creating an investment attraction website and app. The project is expected to finish by the end of August.
Other sources of economic development outlined in the strategy include mountain bike trails. Ladysmith’s branch of the Cowichan Trail Stewardship Society has already held trail building workshops, and is planning to further develop Ladysmith’s trail network in the coming years.
Perhaps the largest component of the economic development strategy is Ladysmith’s waterfront plan. That plan has the highest economic impact identified among potential projects. Work on the ‘Arts and Heritage Hub’ component of the waterfront plan has already begun, with a multi-million dollar upgrade to the Ladysmith Machine Shop currently underway. The plan area encompasses Fisherman’s Wharf to Slack Point. Work is expected to begin in coming months to clear Slack Point of derelict vessels that have plagued the region.
In every area of Ladysmith’s economic development, the main recurring theme is one of cooperation, and rapid implementation. This is something that Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce president Tammy Leslie notes in the profile.
““The process revealed we all had the same objectives and goals in mind, we were all on the same page. Anytime business does better, we all do better, so it wasn’t a surprise,” she said.