LETTER: Development and improvement aren’t synonymous

Letter writer expresses concern on Belaire Street development

(Black Press file photo)

(Black Press file photo)

Many people in the vicinity of the former RCMP building at Belaire/Dogwood have shown united, strong opposition to a proposed 3-storey, contemporary structure which would overpower their neighbourhood and be alongside a quiet, secluded complex of multiple homes occupied by mostly elderly retirees. However, at a Public Hearing on December 2nd, Ladysmith Town Council amended bylaws to accommodate the developer’s proposed brew pub and apartment block on the site. To support his cause the developer had recruited an impressive 252 signatures on his petitions and identical form letters. However, Town of Ladysmith staff identified only one signatory who actually lives in the threatened area! The home environments of all the others wouldn’t be negatively impacted at all. Some people even live in Duncan, Cassidy and Chemainus.

With all due respect, it seems incongruous if not presumptuous that the developer who lives in a rural area miles outside town should seek to impose on others his personal vision of what he thinks their community lacks and needs. Families and people of all ages live contentedly in the strictly residential community, including “youthful citizens” that the developer feels the need to “attract and retain”. A Council-approved amendment to Bylaw 2018 addressed “… commercial centres located within and serving the daily needs of the surrounding residential population …” How could the brew pub serve the daily needs of the community’s adults and children? Anyway, surely no pub should be directly opposite Wickham Park which is designated as a play area for children? As well, the alarming scale, form and character of the proposed modern, obtrusive apartment/condo block couldn’t be more at variance with all the other homes in the neighbourhood, yet amended Bylaw 2018 requires conformity. Meantime, local people are eager to have the site developed and have lots of great suggestions that would fit with and benefit their long-established and cherished neighbourhood.

Of course, Council places emphasis on increased tax revenues, some employment and housing opportunities leading to more local spending, and so on. However, despite Councillors being practical, attentive and respectful, where’s the sentiment, the empathy, the sense of responsibility that unique Ladysmith is renowned for? If one local person is known to be in distress, the whole town loyally rallies around to help. So where’s the caring, first and foremost, about protecting and supporting a community of people who have already happily put down roots in a peaceful, harmonious setting? Daily non-stop noise, disruptions and activity at all hours; blocked sunlight; obscured views; loss of privacy and enjoyment of their homes; vying with many others for a parking spot; throngs of people; the coming and going of heavy-duty trucks and a great increase in traffic and congestion aren’t and haven’t been issues. That’s why people settled in the neighbourhood.

Shouldn’t caring about their well-being outweigh monetary gain and accommodating a persuasive developer?

– Jo Sheridan, Ladysmith B.C.