Ladysmith and its community leaders are embracing 2023 and the challenges and opportunities the new year will bring.
The Chronicle reached out to a handful of Ladysmith’s business and government leaders to ask about their experiences in 2022 and their predictions for 2023.
Mayor Aaron Stone said the new year brings both new challenges and new opportunities for renewal.
“As our calendars signal a new year in the history of the Town of Ladysmith, it is time to take stock of where we have been and where we are going,” he said. “We have come through one of the most difficult times in generations, navigating the challenges of COVID-19 and moving toward ongoing management and recovery. I am so thankful to our previous council, our staff and our community for their perseverance and positivity through this trying time. We are navigating the pandemic exceptionally well and you all deserve our gratitude.”
He said further challenges lie ahead with the prospect of economic recession, and with current inflation that could hit the town hard as far as costs of capital projects, asset management and operations.
“The uncertainty and financial pressure that we’re experiencing is not all doom and gloom, but it does require focus,” the mayor said.
He looks forward, in 2023 and beyond, to action on reconciliation, infrastructure renewal, official community plan adoption, and “smart, responsible growth” in an economically and environmentally sustainable community.
“By working together with a strong focus on our strategic objectives, we will deliver on these priorities,” Stone said. “We will deliver on the promise of a progressive yet pragmatic small town with a thriving local economy, world-class parks and amenities, and developments that are a benefit to our community. The progress we make this term will ensure the financial and ecological sustainability for those who live and love in Ladysmith today, and in the future … These are all critical actions, and ones I know we can all get behind.”
For Ben Maartman, Cowichan Valley Regional District director for Area H (Diamond-North Oyster), one of the things fresh in his memory of 2022 was seeing first-hand, during the recent cold snap, residents taking refuge in a temporary warming centre.
“It was a distressing reality check that the best we offered in the worst weather was so little for people with so many needs,” he said. “The staff and volunteers worked so hard to make the situation better – big, big hearts.”
Maartman expects a “better year” as far as community and family gatherings, but recognizes that the economy and unpredictable weather will continue to bring major challenges. He urged community members to consider helping others when and where they can.
“It doesn’t matter how small it is, look after each other,” he said. “There are so many needs and you can make a difference. A kind word, a smile, a random act of kindness to change another person’s day.”
Mother and daughter Cheri and Brianne Mactier – chairperson of the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce and president of the Ladysmith Downtown Business Association, respectively – both told the Chronicle they’re expecting good things in 2023.
“We’re on the up,” Brianne said. “People’s energy has lifted post-COVID trauma. Our economy will be in recovery mode which means more opportunity. Our town, in particular, is full of growth and when speaking to the local business owners and entrepreneurs, everyone has high goals with positive attitudes.”
Cheri urged residents to support local businesses, volunteer time and experience to community causes and events, and “most of all, be kind and pay it forward … we are so fortunate to live in such a great community, full of community spirit and love.”
Brianne asked Ladysmith residents for kindness, smiles, and attention to the little things that go a long way.
“Lean on each other, ask for help,” she said. “You don’t have to go it alone. We live in such a supportive community, so be thankful and take advantage of that. It’s a beautiful thing.”