As a relative newcomer to the town of Ladysmith, I had mixed emotions to the Jan. 14 announcement that we were joining the CVRD transportation system and that our two trolleys will be replaced with community buses this fall.
Certainly, connecting Duncan and Ladysmith is a sign of progress and will provide increased access to important services for many members of our community. And, if we market this correctly, it could also draw people to our town and help revitalize our downtown core, especially if we are also able to share a similar connection to our other large neighbour to the north.
I have also heard many people call for the cancellation of the trolley service even before this announcement, citing low ridership and high operational costs.
Still, I have a strong sense that Ladysmith is about to lose something of significant value here: an intangible value that won’t show up on any balance sheet, but which I guarantee will have a negative impact for some time to come if our trolleys are decommissioned from regular service as planned.
My wife and I decided on Ladysmith to raise our family a few years ago because it is a “character” town which offers things none of our close neighbours can: strong community spirit, high-quality schools, small-town charm, amazing beach and waterfront access, the light-up festival, and yes, our very own trolley … all of which solidify Ladysmith as a vibrant town with character, and which solidified our decision to call Ladysmith “Home.”
While we are not regular riders of the trolley, it is nevertheless part of our daily lives. Recently, we had the opportunity to join my daughter’s Sparks class on an evening trolly ride through the First Avenue holiday lights (a magical experience for six-year-olds and parents alike) and every day when picking up my daughter or son from school and daycare, we are sure to pass by the trolley en route, and we never fail to comment how lucky we are to live here.
I would strongly urge for Ladysmith council to look for creative solutions to keep our trolley running on a regular schedule, to preserve this local treasure and reinforce the image of Ladysmith as a character town with a rich heritage. After all, isn’t our town moniker “Heritage By the Sea?” … and to that I would add, that heritage is not just those things we inherit, but also those things we choose to pass down.