Ladysmith’s annual Light Up festival often marks the beginning of the Christmas season for most people, but getting to the town south of Nanaimo can be a bit tougher than normal.
To accommodate almost four times the town’s usual population as efficiently as possible, organizers need to make alterations to the usual traffic patterns, said Duck Paterson, festival spokesman and Ladysmith town councillor.
First Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic from Roberts Street north to Symonds Street starting at 3 p.m. on Thursday (Nov. 24). Roberts Street will remain open so that folks can come in and out of town until just before the parade, which begins at approximately 6:15 p.m., and will re-open to east-west traffic immediately after.
Second Avenue, from Buller Street to Strathcona Road, will also be closed from 3 p.m. until approximately 10 p.m. for emergency vehicle access.
The second phase of the closure of First Avenue will begin at 5 p.m. and will go from Roberts Street to Belaire Street and last until about 10 p.m. Bayview Avenue is also included in this closure to allow for the Kinsmen to marshal the floats safely. As well, First Avenue, from the roundabout on Symonds Street to the Island Highway will also be closed at 5 p.m. and that applies to traffic entering Ladysmith as well as leaving.
“The big change this year is the closure of the left turn lane on Grouhel Road,” said Paterson. “The department of highways has said that they will not allow any traffic to turn left – head north – onto the Island Highway from Grouhel Road from 7-11 p.m. This is being done as a safety precaution because of the anticipated heavier traffic heading north.”
Paterson said for those folks wanting to head north from Grouhel Road, they should turn right onto the highway and go south to Ludlow and then left. A block later, turn left onto Rocky Creek Road.
“Just keep on there and that will take folks all the way to the highway and then just merge and away you go,” Paterson said.
The parking lot behind the Masonic Lodge will also be closed to the public from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursday to allow for parking of equipment and volunteer headquarters. Parking is available at the Pentacostal and Catholic churches, with free shuttle buses to downtown Ladysmith.
The churches can be accessed by turning right onto Grouhel Road from the highway and follow the signs up the hill.
For visitors heading in from the south, parking is available at Transfer Beach Park, with free shuttle service to downtown.
For more information, please visit www.ladysmithfol.com/.