The project was a collaboration between the Town of Ladysmith, Stz’uminus First Nation, the Ladysmith Downtown Business Association, the Nanaimo Airport, the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce, and Community Futures Central Island.
Grant funding was also received from the Island Coastal Economic Trust, and a Digital Skills for Youth grant from the federal government.
“The new website and mobile walking app demonstrate the strong partnerships between the Town, Stz’uminus First Nation and the business community as just one of many advantages of investing here. They are also foundational pieces we can build upon and a case study for lessons we can take away for other areas of the Cowichan Region,” Mayor Aaron Stone said.
Plans for the pair of websites were in development long before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the Canadian economy. While COVID-19 will undoubtedly disrupt the tourism side of things, investladysmith.ca has become an ideal tool for a directory of what businesses are open during the pandemic.
“It was never really intended to be a business directory,” Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce executive director, Mark Drysdale said. “The opportunity it presented to quickly pivot to something that’ll work for the here and now was incredible.”
A Ladysmith walking tour app has also been developed in partnership with the websites. The app will guide users along the Ladysmith Heritage Walk, and give users historical information on the buildings and places in the community. Users can access the app online at app.tourismladysmith.ca, or download it from the Google Play Store. It will soon be available on the Apple App Store.
Drysdale said that the app will be continually updated with new features, and may one day feature guided walks of the Heart Lake Trail, and possibly a Ladysmith marine trail.
“There’s lots of opportunities to expand on this,” Drysdale said.
A key pillar of the investment and tourism sites is resident attraction. Together, the sites list Ladysmith’s key investment zones, tourism opportunities, and local businesses.
“It’s a one stop shop for tourists, and anyone who’s wanting to take it to the next level in terms of investment in the community,” Drysdale said.