Ladysmith Community Marina (Cole Schisler photo)

Ladysmith Community Marina remains open, Kids Pirate Day and Heritage Boat Festival cancelled

Social distancing measures are in effect at the marina

The Ladysmith Community Marina remains open during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ladysmith Maritime Society, (LMS), which operates the community marina, made the decision to remain open because they can easily maintain rules on social distancing.

“We have been following all guidelines and regulations in terms of social distancing,” LMS executive director, Richard Wiefelspuett said. “We’re advising people not to come down to the marina unless they are boaters moored there.”

Marina staff are present at the marina, however the offices are closed. No staff have been laid off, or had their hours reduced.

Boaters are required to pay their moorage online rather than in person at the LMS office. Boaters can still come down to work on their boats and sail, provided they maintain provincial guidelines social distancing.

The Ladysmith Community Marina remains open to visiting boaters, however visitors cannot use any of the public facilities, and are encouraged to remain on their boats. If they require any provisions, LMS staff can deliver those supplies without making physical contact. Most visiting boats are equipped with cooking facilities, and washrooms, which makes it easy for visitors to remain on board.

“I don’t expect sick people to come,” Wiefelspuett said. “That’s one of our messages. If somebody came from the United States, and they were permitted to cross the border, I wouldn’t have any concerns.”

Wiefelspuett expects that visiting boats, especially from the United States, will decline over the summer months. In a worst case scenario, LMS could lose $100,000 in revenue generated from visitors. Wiefelspuett said that the economic loss will not have a significant impact on LMS operations.

A deeper loss is the cancellation of the annual community events, the Heritage Boat Festival, and Kids Pirate Day. The Heritage Boat Festival was scheduled to be on May 30, and Kids Pirate Day was scheduled to be June 6. LMS estimated 2,000 attendees come out for Kids Pirate Day, and 500 come for Heritage Boat Festival. With social distancing rules in place, and the risk of exposing people to COVID-19, LMS decided the events needed to be cancelled.

“Nobody knows when these measures will be rolled back, and gatherings might be allowed… It seemed to be getting very close. It wasn’t just the festival, but also the preparations were of concern. A lot of volunteers get together, so there would have been a lot of mingling,” Wiefelspuett said.

The Sea Life Celebration is still tentatively planned for August 12. LMS is developing a possible schedule for Dine on the Dock, Music on the Dock, and Open Mic on the Dock events later in the summer season. They are hopeful that the Oyster Bay Cafe will be able to open later in the 2020 season. LMS has also postponed its annual spring cleaning until social distancing measures are lifted.

If measures are lifted during the 2020 season, LMS will find a way to create a festival to celebrate the community.

“We will find a reason to dance, and celebrate, and be merry,” Wiefelspuett said.

Before the pandemic hit, LMS was working on replacing C-Dock at the Community Marina. That work is now 95 percent completed. LMS is waiting on new dock pilings to be installed, and water systems to be hooked back up. Wiefelspuett estimates the work on C-Dock will be fully completed by the end of May.

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