Ladysmith is well positioned to attract new commercial business in the future while still retaining its unique character and charm on the mid-island , says Mayor Aaron Stone.
With Ladysmith acting as the honourary host, its chief magistrate was busy singing the town’s praises at last week’s Vancouver Island Economic Alliance 10th annual summit in Nanaimo.
“An important goal is to find that balance between retaining our small town vibe and making sure we support it with the right mix of residential, commercial investment,” Stone told the Chronicle.
He said while Ladysmith’s location in the past may have been viewed by some as a weakness, it is in fact one of the town’s greatest strengths – a point he’s driving home with the business community.
“We have one of the largest catchment populations in terms of market size of any community on the mid-island,” he said.
“Leveraging that location, the lifestyle into a strength will allow us to attract business and then as that investment grows the taxes that they contribute to the community will help offset increasing costs that all municipalities face.”
While at conference’s such the one hosted by VIEA, the mayor is sure to mention the opportunities of partnering with the First Nation on reconciliation and how it can be an economic driver for a community.
“Whether it’s incorporating cultural pieces, whether it’s working with the First Nation to provide them water and sewer services like we have so they can start to do economic development,” he said. “I believe that regional strength in investment and economic development pays off for everybody.
Ladysmith’s prime location includes its proximity to the Nanaimo Airport and Duke Point Ferry Terminal, foundational drivers of economic development when trying to attract new business, Stone said.
“Our asset plan and strategy going forward is well defined and predictable so we can give business certain level of cost certainty that they may not get elsewhere,” he said.
“Even if somewhere else’s taxes may be lower today they have investments to make that we’ve already taken on that will put us in a better position than communities in the future.”
B.C. Premier Christy Clark delivered the keynote speech at VIEC on Thursday was also focused on the future of the Island’s various economic sectors, such as agri-tourism, manufacturing and high-tech.
“Over the next six months we are going to be preparing and then publishing an economic investment plan that is going to focus specifically on how we grow jobs and investments in people on Vancouver Island,” Clark said.
In a post-luncheon press conference, Clark touched more on the potential economic impact on the Island from research, development and manufacturing of climate change mitigation and green technologies.