Ladysmith leaders share their hopes for 2019

A look at some of the people who love this town and what they hope to accomplish this year

Gerry Beltgens Special to the Chronicle

It has been a honour for me to be able to interview so many of the people who make a difference in our town.

There is a common theme of community support that makes me so glad that I made the decision to move back to Ladysmith after so many years away. This town has a culture of helping one another, of looking after those less-fortunate.

Here are some of the thoughts shared by our leaders as they look ahead to 2019

Aaron Stone, Mayor of Ladysmith

“While spending some time at the Warming Centre during the recent storm I had the opportunity to see how the town residents and staff pull together and help each other,” Stone said.

“People who had no power but had firewood were willing to share. People with power offered their homes to people without. I am so proud of this town. It is an honour to be able to serve these people.”

Stone believes that 2019 will be an busy year for Ladysmith. The storm has highlighted the importance of completing existing projects such as the water treatment plant, ensuring that we always have access to clean water and increased storage for the dryer times.

Last year the rains came later and with climate change we need to be prepared. We are blessed with excellent water and large reserves but the pressure of economic growth needs to be managed to make sure the infrastructure is in place to deal with it. Managing the growth also means creating more opportunity for jobs without the losing the unique character of the town.

The mayor is energized by his new council.

“There are challenges with so much change. We lost some good experienced people this year,” Stone said. “However the new council is already working very well together and it has renewed my sense of purpose.”

“When things are difficult people are kind to one another. I love walking down the streets of our town.”

Jacqueline Neligan, Ladysmith Family and Friends Executive Director

Neligan wants to encourage people to shine, to be true to themselves and real with their children.

She hopes that as a community we can reduce the level of vulnerability that is affecting the emotional and social wellness of children in B.C.

In 2019 LaFF will open its new office on 1st Avenue so that people can access all of their outreach and Early Years programs while continuing its programming at the Aggie Hall. LaFF is committed to creating opportunities to connect people to the community and to connect the community to its vulnerable people.

“I just want to grow hearts,” she said.

Christy Wood, Ladysmith Resources Centre Association Executive Director

Wood believes that the LRCA needs to tackle the root causes of the problems that require a foodbank and soup kitchen in Ladysmith, to work together as a community to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty.

She wants to bring more people to the table, work with LaFF and Boys and Girls Club on the Early Years program. Her vision is for Ladysmith to come together as a community to access resources and funds as was done in Victoria.

Moving forward the affordable housing project on High Street is a tangible piece of the plan.

Tammy Leslie, Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce President

The chamber is presently working on its Strategic Plan. One of the goals is to make business education programs more accessible to members.

The role of the chamber is to be an advocate for business at the provincial level. It is also working with the Town of Ladysmith to implement the recommendations of a recent Economic Development Report. This includes supporting the Town with the Waterfront Plan, the search for solutions to affordable housing and enhancing tourism opportunities in the town.

Leslie is excited about a planned walking tour phone app that will provide a self guided walking tour of the town including historic buildings, stores and restaurants that proponents hope will draw more people into town and into local businesses.

Andrea Rosato-Taylor, Ladysmith Downtown Business Association President

The goal of the LDBA is to support and create healthy local businesses, to bring more people into the stores to shop locally.

LDBA represents all downtown businesses, Coronation Mall and will work with the businesses that will set up as Waterfront Plan rolls out.

Rosato-Taylor is also the Publisher of the Ladysmith Chronicle and believes passionately in the value of small business and its importance as a driver of economic sustainability for small towns. She enjoys working with the businesses to promote local shopping events such as Old Time Christmas and the Grand Christmas Draw. She volunteers at the Salvation Army soup kitchen and is reminded every day that there are people who need a hand up.

Her goal is ensure that the business community is healthy, which in turn helps them support the social programs that the community requires.

John Shepard, Lions Club President

Shepard would like to see more support for the homeless and food insecure members of our community. He would like to see more days of service where doors are open with a hot meal and a gift of clothing or toys or whatever suits the season. He hopes to see more combined service club projects such as Forrest Field.

“I would like to see a Ladysmith Service Club Day where community members can meet with the clubs and see what they do,” he said.

Larry Williams, Eagles Club President

Williams was born in Ladysmith, left while still young and returned after 20 years away. He likes the way that the town has managed to keep its heritage character while new businesses have opened.

His wish for the town is that it can maintain that small town feel while continuing to grow and that we can find a way to incorporate more parking.

Williams is also a supporter of the Forrest Field Fitness Trail project.

“I think it will be great success and that we can build on this joint service club venture for future projects,” he said.

Joan Phillips, Rotary Club President

Phillips is amazed at the spirit of volunteerism and giving in Ladysmith. She loves the community feel and being able to talk to friends on the street. She hopes that this continues and in 2019 we are able to work together on more community projects.

She is working with Cowichan Valley Rotary Clubs to support the new Hospice Centre. She would like to see some progress on the development of the Ladysmith Foundation and looks forward to working with the other service clubs on the Forrest Field Project.

Ed Nicholson, Ladysmith and District Historical Society President

In 2019 the Ladysmith and District Historical Society will be taking over the role of the Ladysmith Historic Advisory Committee as well as continuing with the museum, archives, recording local history and promoting the value of our history to the schools, business community and the public. 2019 will continue with the theme of “The Ties that Bind.”

Based on the work done in recent charrettes the LDHS will begin the process of working with the town to set up an Arts and Heritage Hub in the area of the existing blue Expo Legacy Building. This is a part of the Ladysmith Waterfront Plan.

Nicholson is also looking forward to working with the Chamber of Commerce and LDBA on the plan for a Walking Tour App of the historic buildings and locations in Ladysmith. Collaboration with other aligned groups is key in Nicholson’s mind.

“We need to all work together to promote the Arts, History and Culture of our town and the people of Stz’uminus First Nation,” he said. “We need a community barn-raising attitude.”

Kathy Holmes, Ladysmith Arts Council President

Holmes is excited about the possibilities for the new year. She looks forward getting back to the gallery as soon as the roof is repaired.

This year the council is going to continue to reach out to the community to make sure that the gallery is reflecting what the town needs. There will be an increased emphasis on education programs and branching out to other arts areas including spoken and printed word. The gallery will also expand on its popular speaker series this year.

Participating in the planning for the Arts and Heritage Cultural Hub will play a significant role in setting direction in partnership with other players at the table including carver John Marston, The Heritage Society and Ladysmith Maritime Society.

Holmes believes that the concepts around the “Hub” will transform Ladysmith to a destination for travelers from around the island and beyond.

“I believe that teaming up makes us stronger.” she said. “This year we will work with Rotary to provide art for the Garden Tour and we will continue to liaise with the Stz’uminus First Nation on possible projects.

Moving to Ladysmith was a choice that Kathy made consciously. She loves this town, the amazing local talent and the community of people that live here.

“I am so happy to bring the arts to a community that I love”

Jim Delcourt, Kinsmen Club President

The Kinsmen Club is making a push to raise the rest of the money needed to build a much-needed public access washroom in the downtown core.

Whether it is a mother who needs to change her baby or a senior who feels uncomfortable asking a store for access, the washroom is essential.

While Kinsmen as a group support their Kinsmen Foundation most of the work and fundraising is for local projects. High on their list will be supporting Ladysmith Youth Sports, the Food Bank, Celebrations Committee, the parades and much more.

Kinsmen also support individuals who need help including building a ramp for a person with disabilities or a fence for a senior with no resources. Delcourt would also like to start a drive for better facilities at Aggie Field to make it more accessible to the women’s teams.

“We wish all of Ladysmith big wishes and happiness in the New Year,” he said.

“And if you are interested in doing good work in the community, we can always use some more good members!”


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