Ladysmith residents got one more chance to talk about the Town of Ladysmith’s next official community plan.
On Tuesday, April 18, dozens of Ladysmith residents showed to the Ladysmith Seniors Centre to discuss, argue, and support the plan.
Residents spoke on multiple topics relating to the plan, and some of the topics that were discussed were density levels and walkable neighbourhoods.
“One of the biggest draws to Ladysmith for me and many other visitors and residents is this original, old, mostly single-family homes neighbourhood,” said Catherine Cartwright, a resident of Ladysmith. “I am not opposed to our neighbourhood absorbing some types of densification, all building types that can be absorbed into the neighbourhood without taking away from any of the character of the neighbourhood. Nothing destroys charm and historic ambience like scale.”
Coun. Tricia McKay stressed the importance of walkable neighbourhoods in a growing town.
“When you get to a point where you can no longer drive, you need to be able to walk to the facilities that you need to get service from, you need to be able to walk to get your groceries, walk to the bank, walk to a hardware store. It’s very difficult in Ladysmith if you live above the ridge. We need to be infilling in the part of Ladysmith that is close to the amenities, close to the services and close to transit.”
Mayor Aaron Stone, along with the rest of council, agreed with higher density and more options for housing in town saying “soulless strip malls aren’t good for anybody.”
Rob Johnson, a former Ladysmith council member, agreed with some of the plan; however, he felt it doesn’t take into account a growing population, mentioning Ladysmith is a “service hub” to surrounding communities. He said an OCP is supposed to be “a road map to creating a community that recognizes the wants and needs of the community, it’s not just about land use and land development, it has to take in the social fabric of the community.”
Sue Dallyn, a volunteer with the Ladysmith Maritime Society, spoke on the ongoing issue regarding the community marina lease and the waterfront area plan.
“We want to be part of making the plans on the waterfront and we are disheartened, my heart is breaking because of what’s happened,” she said. “We want to be part of the official plan, not just a mention.”
Multiple residents said they supported the the idea that council take more time to formulate the plan.
“It hasn’t captured the imagination of the community, I find it so disheartening that there are so many people that aren’t here,” Cartwright told council. “I don’t know how you can feel satisfied with where you are, even voting on this with so little community input.”
Council members later stated that hundreds of residents participated in surveys and events dedicated to drafting the OCP, which prioritizes diverse housing, better connected neighbourhoods, support for arts and culture, and a revitalized waterfront. Councillors voted unanimously in favour of third reading of the OCP bylaw and the next step will be a final council meeting to take into account what was discussed at the hearing, then adoption of the plan.
Coun. Duck Paterson said he didn’t like bike lanes or the idea of trying to lower greenhouse gas emissions and “those kind of warm and fuzzies” when he was first elected into office, but suggested the OCP incorporates long-term thinking and planning.
“Looking around the world as we know it, Vancouver Island, we are getting more and more people, we’re getting a variety and diversity. The OCP isn’t looking at what we have today and what we have next year, it’s intended to look into the future and to comfortably accommodate as many people, as sustainably as possible,” he said.
Stone said he was happy with the outcome of the public hearing and is looking forward to implementation of the OCP.
“I’m super proud of this plan, and I’m so proud that what I heard tonight was actually more support for this plan than opposition to it,” he said.Follow @Baileyseymour02