The Ladysmith Maritime Society (LMS) will use more than $300,000 from a provincial tourism grant to build two new boat shelters and improve its floating museum.
“The purpose of the building is to display our award-winning heritage boat fleet in a way that everyone can see it easily,” said Richard Wiefelspuett, executive director of the Ladysmith Maritime Society. “They are going to be out in the open [and] easily accessible.”
The new shelters will be next to the floating museum and Wiefelspuett said displaying the heritage fleet in the open will help attract maritime heritage aficionados from the island and beyond.
“We are already a tourist destination, the community marina. We have a lot of traffic of course from visiting boaters that brings people to Ladysmith and not just the waterfront, most often they go uptown to shop around,” he said.
The museum will have interactive and interchangeable theme-based displays. He said he hopes to work with local First Nations and other maritime heritage groups to create additional exhibits. One display he gave as an example will be ashow the heritage of pleasure boating in the area.
The heritage fleet, which won the LMS an award from the Ladysmith and District Historical Society for keeping maritime heritage alive, is currently in a closed-off boathouse. Wiefelspuett said once they are displayed in the new shelters, the old ones will be put to a new use in the marina.
The LMS must start the project before late June this year, as per the grant requirments. It will have to have the $319,375 in funding disbursed by the end of 2023, but Wiefelspuett expects to have work commencing early.
He said the LMS has other potential innovations planned for the summer, including a youth sailing program and a heritage boat rental program. “That all ties very well into the marina attraction for people who are not moored here, but will find a way to enjoy the waterfront by just coming down here,” he said.
More than 50 new tourism projects throughout the province are receiving a total of $21.3 million for shovel-ready infrastructure projects like this one, $2.3 million is being granted on Vancouver Island.
These projects are part of the second round of the 2021 Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program’s (CERIP) Destination Development stream.
“We know tourism infrastructure is a priority for communities,” said Melanie Mark, minister of tourism, arts, culture and sport. “We are responding to this call to action from the sector that will further support its recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our investment in tourism creates good-paying jobs that directly support local economies now and will elevate our reputation as a world-class destination for the many visitors looking to return to B.C. for years to come.”