Supporters of the Ladysmith Maritime Society protested outside their MLA’s office as part of an ongoing lease transfer disagreement.
More than 100 people gathered around Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley’s High Street office on Saturday, May 27, to sign a petition and advocate for further discussion regarding the Ladysmith Community Marina. The maritime society, a non-profit organization that has tended to the marina for more than 30 years, is being evicted from the site by the end of 2023 as part of a 2022 reconciliation deal between the provincial government and the Stz’uminus First Nation.
The idea to hold a demonstration came when the LMS announced talks with Stz’uminus and the Town of Ladysmith stalled after the town had agreed to re-open conversation between the parties. Protesters held signs critical of the provincial government and the MLA for not being part of the conversations.
Rob Pinkerton, a founding member of the Friends of Ladysmith Community Marina Facebook group which aims to keep community members informed on the issue, said although the petition is important, the purpose of the demonstration was to bring more attention from elected officials and surrounding communities.
“This isn’t really about this petitions. It’s about publicity. As you know, people don’t really care about petitions going around. So we think this is more effective,” said Pinkerton. “We feel that this was a heavy-handed approach, hopefully not going to be happening in other jurisdictions, but we know other jurisdictions are worried, and we know that they’re watching.”
The lease transfer is part of the beginning of the town implementing the new waterfront area plan, which prioritizes access to the waterfront, commercial development and Stz’uminus presence on the waterfront.
Doug West, owner of Ladysmith Marine Services, shared support for LMS at the rally. He said he’s afraid it could affect his business and other businesses on the waterfront as the town moves forward with the area plan, saying it could “just be pulled out from underneath.”
According to a statement from LMS, the town reached out with the objective of extending the negotiating period beyond the end of the year; however, the society said it is not yet convinced, as “we’ve been down this short road before.”Follow @Baileyseymour02