Ian Muirhead from BC Rehabilitation Services

Ian Muirhead from BC Rehabilitation Services

Ladysmith art gallery Going up

Kathy Holmes, president of the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery, had a lot of people to thank for the new elevator

“Pam, this is for you and all those who couldn’t climb the stairs.”

Kathy Holmes, president of the Ladysmith Waterfront Gallery, had a lot of people to thank for the new elevator, which was officially dedicated at an open house Friday, Nov. 6.

It’s been four years, and taken $80,000 to complete a project that started with a contribution from member Pam Fairchild, whose husband John had to sit outside the gallery in the car and wait whenever she visited.

He could no longer make it up the 22 steps from Oyster Bay Drive to the second floor of the Expo Building. He was not the only one.

“Pam handed me a cheque for $500 and said, ‘Get an elevator’,” Holmes recalled during her remarks to the dozens of art lovers who attended the unveiling. “I made a promise that day that our arts council would do just that.”

Unfortunately John Fairchild passed away before the elevator project was finished, and Pam moved to Montreal to be closer to family. But there won’t be a day goes by that LAC members and visitors to the Waterfront Gallery who live with disabilities aren’t thankful for what Pam started.

“We have programs designed now that we will be able to implement because people will be able to get upstairs,” Holmes said.

Contributors to the project included the Government of Canada, through its Enabling Accessibility Fund. Holmes remembered how that funding came through as the biggest Christmas present ever on Dec. 23, 2014.

BC Rehabilitation Services also came through with the ‘last bit of money’ needed to complete the project. Holmes noted that it took three years for that grant to be finalized, but that the original request was put on hold, and the hope kept alive.

The Town of Ladysmith, Ladysmith & District Credit Union, Ladysmith Lions Club, plus a long list of individual donors got a big ‘thank you’ from the Ladysmith Arts Council board.

Finally, Holmes praised the workmanship and community spirit of the project coordinator Brian Childs and the contractors who installed the elevator.

She noted later that the companies and crews went many extra miles to make the project work, including holding to their original quotes, even thought the project took several years to implement.

“We are so delighted you are here, whether you walked up the 22 stairs or took the elevator,” Holmes concluded. “Huychqu. Art is here. This is your gallery.”