A community pub at the site of the old town drunk tank?
It was just one of several ideas on the table at an open house last week to discuss the future of Ladysmith’s long-vacant, dilapidated old RCMP building.
A full house packed the downstairs hall at Frank Jameson Commnity Centre for an information meeting hosted by Fred Green, the new owner of the old police station and jailhouse on Belaire St.
Green said this is his first property development and he wanted to give the public an opportunity to look at at some of the facts about the property and discuss possible uses.
The old police station has been vacant for many years and suffered from vandalism, neglect and the ravages of the weather. The badly leaking roof has caused extensive problems inside.
The subject of a court-ordered sale, the building may need to come down to facilitate future development.
After a brief introduction by Angela Quek of AYPQ Architecture, Green took the floor. He pointed out that as a member of the community it was important to him that the future use would add to the quality of life and be an improvement for the town.
He indicated that he was there to listen and learn what would work in the community. He also indicated that whatever was proposed should be something that would engage young adults and hopefully be a destination for locals.
Green has friends who are familiar with community pubs and would be interested in such a venture at this location. Green presented a series of slides detailing the dimensions, qualities and restrictions related to the site as well as possible uses including housing, live work units, and the aforementioned brew pub.
After the presentation by Green and Quek the meeting was made open to the attendees for questions and suggestions.
Suggestions included a multi-use building with commercial and residential space, a coffee shop and bicycle shop. Other suggestions included a corner store, retail space, healthcare, space for teens, and a seniors centre. Discussion about a possible small batch brew pub drew a fair amount of enthusiasm from many attendees. Concerns about smells, parking and potential shadowing were also raised.
“People raised their concerns but they were articulate and respectful.” Green said in an interview follwoing the meeting. “We are interested and listening to all possibilities and while we want to make a profit on the venture it is secondary to the benefit to the community. We will take into consideration the concerns raised as we move forward and we will come back to the community again with our plans as they evolve.”
Attendees included people living near the site, several present and past council members and others with a general interest.
“It was a good presentation,” said Roland Kokke, a Ladysmith resident. “Residents are clearly glad that something is finally being done about the old jailhouse. I was impressed with the positive level of discussion and I like the possibility of a cafe or pub closer to where we live.”
Green has been a supporter of many Ladysmith community projects and organisations in the past through his family’s charitable foundation, including substantial support towards the completion of the Transfer Beach Kids Park.
A community vision survey was handed out at the meeting and the completed forms can be dropped off at the Chamber of Commerce on Roberts St.