The Town of Ladysmith is receiving $3.3 million through federal and provincial programs to continue developing the Arts and Heritage Hub along the waterfront.
The new hub is seen as the “public heart” of the Waterfront Area Plan and is a key priority of both the Town and Stz’uminus First Nation. The additional funding to continue developing this priority is being received through the Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) and the Rural and Northern Communities Program.
Ladysmith says a significant chunk of the money from these two programs will go towards a 4,500 sq ft
studio for local artists, creating opportunities to “showcase over 5,000 years of Indigenous cultural history in the area.”
According to a press release from Ladysmith, Coast Salish craftspeople will play a role in the architectural design of the studio space as well, which will be located on Oyster Bay Drive.
The new $3.3 million in funding will also enable the Town to construct an above-grade boardwalk running
the full length of the Arts and Heritage Hub, connecting the Machine Shop with the studios and serving as an “entry point” to the area.
In addition, upgrades and renovations to some of the existing buildings, including the roundhouse, will be made in an effort to preserve them further.
“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 Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone.
The project is a collaborative effort between the Town and Stz’uminus First Nation, which stone feels will add “value and economic opportunities” for both parties.
The Town said that it will also be investing to the project as well and have applied for further grant funding for the new hub through the Island Economic Coastal Trust.
Ladysmith said that the initial phase of development will focus on additional infrastructures, such as public parking and overall landscaping.
“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,” reads a press release.
The Town added that crews are continuing to make progress on significant structural, code and seismic upgrades to the Machine Shop that have been underway since 2019.