Ladysmith council has announced the completion of its Sustainability Action Plan.
The plan outlines a series of methods, goals and visions in order to deal with current local environmental issues, such as climate change, preservation of the town’s character, transportation, physical growth and economic development.
It also builds on the town’s award-winning Sustainability Visionary Report from 2009.
Mayor Rob Hutchins believes Ladysmith to be a leader in sustainability and says the plan has been in the works for a while.
“Between 2004 and 2007 the community was really growing, particularly at the south end of town” said the mayor. “Council was concerned we were losing the sense of small town character and green space.”
Back then, council conducted a series of public meetings leading to the creation of the visionary report.
“Our working group then went back to the community and took the vision to make this working plan that we hope will also lead and feed our financial plan for the next four years,” said Hutchins, who believes sustainability to be a serious reality in this day and age.
“Our environment is critical in order to go forward. We’ve got to do a better job with the conservation of precious densities such as water and continue to practice building our community.”
Some of the plan’s main objectives include:
- Increasing housing diversity throughout Ladysmith
- Increase density, especially in the downtown and new development area
- Increase transit usage and identify connections to areas currently travelled by car such as Vancouver Island University
- Encourage efficient and renewable energy systems
- Conserve and protect the town’s drinking water
- Reduce the amount of environmentally hazardous substances and waste
- Protect and enhance Ladysmith’s parks
- Support and promote Ladysmith’s arts, cultural events and activities
- Preserve and enhance Ladysmith’s built heritage
Ladysmith first set its stall out in terms of sustainability and being more eco-friendly back in 1995 when it became the first to introduce universal recycling in the Cowichan Valley, during the early days of Hutchins’ reign as mayor.
“The word sustainability wasn’t used (properly) until about 10 years ago,” said Hutchins. “In 2003 we suddenly realized the impact of climate change. We realized things are changing in terms of pressure on water and from when we had the forest fires.
In 2003, Hutchins also attended the first ever drought conference held in British Columbia.
“That triggered a lot of changes to water acts and we’ve got to do a better job on that front. This plan is going to shape our community for the next three or four years.”
Seemingly, attempts at change for the better is set to be a recurring theme going forward for council, who says its constantly looking at sustainable ways to enhance the town and community.
“We also need to do a better job of dealing with growth and community consultation will be key in that,” said Hutchins.