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Re-development plans for Ladysmith’s historical Island Hotel make it past public hearing

Town council votes 6-1 in favour of third reading of zoning and OCP amendment bylaws
An artist’s rendering of what a reconstructed Island Hotel might look like on Ladysmith’s First Avenue. (AYPQ Architecture image)

Ladysmith council is expected to support a revitalization plan for the historical Island Hotel on First Avenue following a public hearing where they heard support and opposition from community members.

Council voted 6-1 in favour of third reading of zoning and official community plan amendment bylaws at the meeting on Tuesday, May 16, after hearing concerns over parking and construction from residents.

Some residents spoke about parking concerns for the 22 proposed residential units and two commercial units in the building, as a parking lot in an alley behind the building may not be able to accommodate all vehicles owned by future tenants.

“We have a very large number of people who park there on a regular basis that work in the downtown core and live in the area,” said resident Rob Johnson at the hearing. “Even if you assume one car per unit, that’s 22 cars, the back alley that runs behind [the hotel] is approximately 35 parking spots. Today with the busyness of downtown, the back alley is 90 per cent full all the time.”

Council later spoke on possibly re-configuring the parking lot using the parking reserve fund as the lot has a “lot of dead space” according to Mayor Aaron Stone. They also discussed a possible ride-sharing program for residents in the future.

Liz Hills, who owns a massage therapy clinic next door to the hotel, raised concerns about noise and parking during construction, saying she has clients with mobility issues and they need to park behind the building.

“If there’s 1,000 construction vehicles that need to park back there, will my clients be able to park back there, will I be able to park back there to get into the building?” she asked.

Stone stated that accommodation should be made for surrounding business and neighbours to lessen the impacts of construction.

During the hearing, Randy Repass, who bought the Island Hotel with his wife in 2021, spoke on his appreciation for the building and for the town.

“As long as we’ve been coming to Ladysmith, which has been quite a while, we’ve always really appreciated the downtown, especially this building,” he said.

After questioning staff members and the project’s architect about parking options and historical restoration of the front of the building, council voted in favour of third reading of the amendment bylaws. Only Coun. Marsh Stevens voted in opposition, saying parking and construction won’t be an issue, but the concessions asked for and the possible benefit from said concessions are askew.

READ ALSO: Ladysmith council advances Island Hotel re-development proposal to public hearing stage

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Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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