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The Town of Ladysmith is receiving $3,307,500 through the Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) – Rural and Northern Communities (RNC) Program to continue implementing the shared vision for the Arts & Heritage Hub – the ‘public heart’ of the Waterfront Area Plan (WAP).
Centred around the historic Machine Shop, the Hub is identified as a key priority by both the Town and Stz’uminus First Nation in the award-winning Waterfront Area Plan created by DIALOG.
A significant part of this federal and provincial investment will help build a 4,500 sq ft studio for local artists, including Stz’uminus First Nation carvers, creating opportunities to showcase over 5,000 years of Indigenous cultural history in the area.
Coast Salish craftsmanship will feature prominently as well in the architectural design of the new studio space, which will front onto Oyster Bay Drive, surrounded by open spaces allowing for social interaction and diversity of activities.
The Town also plans to incorporate sustainability elements where possible, aligning with our commitment to green building practices.
Also a result of the funding, the Town will construct an above-grade boardwalk running the full length of the Hub, connecting the Machine Shop with the studios and serving as an entry point as you arrive and start to explore.
Additionally, the Town will make some renovations and upgrades to the existing roundhouse and car shop buildings in order to preserve these heritage assets which are important representations of Ladysmith’s industrial past.
“The Arts & Heritage Hub is the public heart of our entire Waterfront Area Plan and the receipt of this critical funding is another big step forward in our ongoing work to return our waterfront to a place for locals and visitors to explore history, culture and art in an integrated way,” said Mayor Aaron Stone.
“Through our ongoing collaboration with Stz’uminus First Nation, we are adding value and economic opportunities for our communities and today marks another milestone in that shared journey. We are thankful for the opportunity to create a space that not only showcases our industrial heritage and flourishing arts community, but is an opportunity to embrace and bring Stz’uminus culture back to this side of the harbour as we build cultural connections so important to reconciliation.”
The Town will contribute to a portion of the project costs as part of the first implementation phase of the Arts & Heritage Hub Concept Plan. We have also applied for grant funding for the Hub through the Island Economic Coastal Trust.
Improvements to public parking and overall landscaping and site design are also being prioritized during this initial phase of the work.
Future phases, subject to the receipt of additional funding sources, emphasize the creation of additional cultural public amenities such as a community meeting place, industrial arts building, café/gift shop as well as improvements to existing historic buildings.
A key strategic priority of Ladysmith Council and focus for the Town is continuing with the implementation of the Waterfront Area Plan. The Town continues to make progress on significant structural, code and seismic upgrades to the Machine Shop that have been underway since last year.
We look forward to welcoming community members and tenants back to the Machine Shop once these renovations are complete.
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