The Ladysmith Maritime Society has seen a jump in visitors this year

Visiting boaters rave about the new facilities and amenities at Ladysmith Community Marina, the ease of getting into town and marina staff.

The Ladysmith Maritime Society is finding that the new Welcome Centre is a major attraction.

The Ladysmith Maritime Society is finding that the new Welcome Centre is a major attraction.

The word is out amongst the boaters of the Pacific Northwest that the Community Marina in Ladysmith is a wonderful place to go.

Visiting boaters rave about the new facilities and amenities in the marina, the ease of getting into town for provisions and the friendly and efficient marina staff of the Ladysmith Maritime Society (LMS).

Peter Vassilopoulos, a boater and author well known throughout the Pacific Northwest, writes that the LMS Community Marina “… is helping put the town on the map.”

LMS reports that the number of marine tourists visiting the Community Marina is up 36 per cent in 2012 over 2011.

Boats visiting the Community Marina stayed a total of 1,152 nights over the past year, with the most active season being June to September. In addition, during the summer months, 614 dinghies from vessels anchored in Sibell Bay used the Community Marina at no cost as a base to go into the town to stock up on provisions.

From interviews with the visitors and statistics reported throughout the Gulf Islands, LMS reckons that these visitors spent $320,000 on meals, groceries, alcohol, hardware, pharmaceuticals, gifts and other items in the town. Indirect economic benefit to the broader region was close to $600,000.

Doug Bell, president of LMS, is very pleased by what he sees.

“In addition to marine tourists from other regions, we are seeing increasing numbers of community residents coming down to the marina to enjoy their waterfront,” he said. “This, together with the economic benefits flowing into the area, is what LMS is all about — serving the communities on both sides of the harbour. These visitors represent a significant new market for local businesses.”

Peter Richmond of 49th Parallel Groceries noted, “There was a significant increase in marine visitors shopping in Ladysmith this summer.”

The new Marine Welcome Centre with washrooms, laundry, Wi-Fi services and indoor space to relax and visit is a major attraction. And outdoor BBQ and benches, planters overflowing with blossoms, heritage vessels on display, the only floating museum in B.C., the purple martin colony, and the only marine sewage pump out station in the harbour are also magnets for visitors.

Tom Irwin, executive director of LMS, is enthusiastic about the public’s response and expects the numbers to grow next year.

“We are told by our visitors that this is one of the finest facilities between Prince Rupert and the San Juan Islands and that they will be arranging a rendezvous with their fellow boaters here next year,” he said.

Many visitors sing the praise of Mark Mercer, the wharfinger, as “… one of the best we have ever dealt with.”

Another published review says, “Recommend calling ahead to make reservations; this facility will become immensely popular and will fill quickly.”

Irwin also notes that the Welcome Centre, which is fully wheelchair-accessible, has an upstairs meeting room that holds 60 people and is graced with exceptional waterfront ambience. This space is available to be booked by members of the public for private events and meetings.

— Submitted by the Ladysmith Maritime Society