Ladysmith looks like a tired town.
Nobody is going the extra mile.
Many lawns and boulevards are overgrown with dandelions and buttercups.
It takes leadership to create a town that is supported by its residents, appeals to outsiders and attracts the kind of people and green industry that any town wants.
We like to call Ladysmith “heritage by the sea.” What sea? Nobody can see the water. There is no recent development of the waterfront other than industrial.
Much time is spent on mini projects such as bike paths, community garden plots and growing vegetables in front of City Hall where once flowers bloomed.
There does not seem to be a grand vision for the future of this town. No marketing plan. What signage we have is too small and often hidden by new growth.
My brother-in-law, who used to travel up and down the Island, used to think of Ladysmith as two service stations and a Safeway store. I think that highway travellers today would think the same thing.
The water is blocked by trees, and rather than maximize water views from the highway and for all residents, we favour a policy of protecting trees, even when they grow into that water view. I seem to remember one council member saying: “nobody owns their view.” This is extremely short-sighted, as water views raise property values and taxes and help to make this town into a great place to live.
It has been shown that towns that invest in the arts and history tend to do well economically. Nelson, B.C., is a good example. And Nelson does not even have a waterfront like ours.
Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver and even Crofton are all busily moving industry from the waterfront and replacing it with condos, galleries, theatres and restaurants. We seem to do the opposite. Yet, such towns attract the people and the green industry that our council wants to attract.
We are still struggling to have a proper heritage/cultural centre with high visibility and lots of parking.
Our rail inheritance is rotting away.
Our new little museum gets scant attention.
Could it be that members of council have served too long, to a point where they have lost their enthusiasm and are devoid of new ideas?