Questioning the candidates on — The economy in Ladysmith:
The Chronicle asks: What are some of the ways the Town of Ladysmith can work to foster a healthy, vibrant economy?
Buy locally whenever possible. Purchasing in town is much more than a mere financial transaction. Business retention is fundamental to a healthy and vibrant local economy.
‘Small Business Friendly’. Ensure council partners with Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Business Association leaders to revitalize downtown with appropriate tax incentives, welcome potential investors with a helpful and efficient business licensing approval process, and actively recruit new niche businesses.
Leverage Economic Tourism with our Maritime Society Community Marina, address harbour pollution, remove derelict vessels from the waterfront, restore the former Transfer Beach RV park and establish small footprint marine industry that enhances marine tourism and provides opportunities to complement spin-off needs of the federal ship building contract in Nanaimo and Victoria.
‘Social Diversity’ promotion of affordable housing for young families as a customer base in Ladysmith is essential to a vibrant economy.
In the short term, we must work to develop local facilities that will attract tourists and encourage them to spend some time in our community and shop at our local stores and restaurants.
The Ladysmith Maritime Society has made a great start by providing facilities for recreational boaters. The town must move forward and work to develop a camp ground that will attract RVers and campers.
In the summer months, there are many events happening in Ladysmith that can attract people if they have a place to stay. We need to develop proper signage that will inform the travelers on the highway that a special event is happening. Tourists stopping in Ladysmith will use the services offered by local businesses.
In the long term, to serve our local businesses, we must ensure that our business tax assessment is not excessive. We need to support small businesses as they provide employment for Ladysmith residents.
The Town of Ladysmith is already diligently working on sewer/water upgrades which are necessary for community health.
Affordable/Attainable Housing both brings and keeps families – young and old, in the Community. Density creates its own vibrancy with people integrated, talking, feeling included, getting to know each other.
Density is less stressful on sewer/water and does not need huge upgrades to provide service nor cause tax increases for new services. New business may be attracted with the elimination/reduction of Downtown/Waterfront DCC’s as well as no increase in property taxes when upgrading existing premises for a period of time.
Giving ‘teeth’ to Commissions like Economic Development/Tourism (at least) to meet with Council on a regular basis to brainstorm and put their ideas forward for group discussion, and then to ‘staff’ for implementation would provide opportunity for discussion/debate by a larger group and thereby these valuable commissions would feel that they are being heard as well as listening to council’s conversation and opportunities for putting thought into action.
Ladysmith town council values regular dialogue with the Downtown Business Association and Chamber of Commerce. The business community provides valuable insight with regard to how the town can best encourage and facilitate new start-ups and expansion of existing companies.
Council must ensure city staff is afforded the time to regularly review licensing procedures, and to evaluate current fee structures.
The town must advertise our many amenities to the wider business community, in order to inspire them to locate here. Improvements to our waterfront that will attract tourists will also enable Ladysmith residents the chance to capitalize on employment opportunities.
A Stz’uminus First Nation Cultural Centre would be a welcome addition and would build friendship between neighbours. By keeping a reasonable tax rate and encouraging a diverse range of businesses, Ladysmith council will foster a healthy and vibrant economy.
Fostering a vibrant economy is a difficult task, especially in municipalities whose economies are driven by commodities.
Ladysmith’s economy is very much affected by what is happening at the local mills, and is susceptible to the boom and bust cycles of the industry. It has been proven that the best way to ensure a well functioning economy is by encouraging local businesses, and helping them to succeed. This approach has been shown to be low cost, and highly effective at producing jobs.
I believe Ladysmith has the potential to become even more small business friendly than it already is through initiatives such as, promotion, support, a review of the current business tax rate and a review of excessive signage fees. These and other strategies could make the difference in attracting new businesses and sustaining current businesses.
Undertaking waterfront development is an important component to fostering a healthy, vibrant economy. Currently it is underutilized and could be categorized as a lost opportunity. Even with its remediation requirements in the foreshore, it is an asset that many communities would love to have.
We have the busiest road on Vancouver Island that cuts through the middle of our community but we do not maximize the potential of drawing people into our community. More needs to be done to attract those people going by our doorstep.
A business improvement area (BIA) that collectively markets the existing commercial and retail sectors in Ladysmith has proved a benefit in many other communities on the island like Courtenay & Comox. In fact there are 54 BIA’s in British Columbia. It is an excellent vehicle to champion strong, vibrant successful downtowns, main streets, and commercial districts.
A healthy, vibrant economy can be fostered by continuing to ensure that the community is an attractive, affordable, and desirable place to live, work, visit, and invest.
A diversified economy creates a stable and resilient community. Ladysmith Harbour’s aquaculture industry will be strengthened by the installation of secondary sewage treatment. Maritime tourism will be enhanced and waterfront commercial opportunities will be possible with the stabilization of Slack Point.
We must seek every opportunity to expand the green economy. We need to use wood fibre/solar/or geo-exchange as energy sources to heat our public and private buildings.
In the south end of our community we must work collaboratively with the Stz’uminus First Nation to make available serviced industrial land for business recruitment.
Although we have recently won provincial recognition for being ‘Small Business Friendly,’ more work has to be done to ensure best practices are in place to foster a vibrant business core.
To start off with, I think that we need to continue the partnership we have with the Chamber of Commerce. As the ‘voice’ of the business community we need to make sure that they have the ear and eyes of all council.
We need to try and make it as economically viable for business and industry, but we also have to be aware of what it costs to run the municipality – which is also a business in its own way.
There are certain avenues where taxes/charges can be reduced or even forgiven for certain improvements and projects and I think as a town we need to look into these areas more. Having been involved in a few budget deliberations over the years, there is only so much money available so whatever concessions we arrive at have to be planned carefully.
We can also look at streamlining some of our procedures. Have council, town staff and business developers work on possible new language to our bylaws and how we all can work in closer partnership. The town has some properties that are zoned for commercial/industrial and we can look at possibly making them more accessible to future ventures.
There are ways of making things work and as a team I believe that we can make it happen.
Due to a family emergency, Ms. Patterson was unable to get a response to the Chronicle on time for publication.
A healthy economy is built on both businesses and customers.
Businesses will thrive in Ladysmith if residents support them, and residents will spend more dollars locally if businesses respond to their needs.
The town’s role includes maintaining fair business taxes and collaborating with business organizations to attract and support businesses. This should include emerging sectors like marine recreation and tourism, and we must provide more support to our community of working artists.
We should also continue to collaborate on shop-local initiatives—watch for the upcoming 10% Shift program. We must continue to welcome visitors to our town through events and tourism promotion. And when they get here, they need easier access to our businesses with enhanced trolley service and perhaps a pedestrian overpass from the waterfront.
Finally, both businesses and customers will come here if we follow our vision for a vibrant, green community with solid small-town values.