Waterfront plan wins ‘Reach Out’ Brownie Award!

Waterfront plan wins ‘Reach Out’ Brownie Award!

 

“The Brownie Awards recognize the builders, innovators and visionaries who are dedicated to the rehabilitation of brownfield sites that were once contaminated, under-utilized and undeveloped into productive residential and commercial projects that contribute to the growth of healthy communities across Canada.”

About the waterfront and restoring its kitchen

This project was as much about the process as it was the final plan. Not only were both Ladysmith and Stz’uminus communities involved in early visioning and final iterative vetting of the plan, they worked together to co-create ideas for urban design, public realm improvements, cultural destinations, ecological management and restoration, economic development, land use and housing, and more.

The waterfront of Ladysmith suffers from significant contamination of sediment and woodwaste due to historic industrial uses in the harbour, including coal transport and logging. As this project site is situated within the unceded territories of the Stz’uminus First Nation and is currently owned primarily by the Town and Province, a key goal was to create a plan that revitalizes this area in a way that is beneficial to both communities and in the spirit of building the partners’ relationship. Ecological health and management emerged as a key priority for this project. While no lands in the area have been determined to have significant eoclogical value, a strong theme from the engagement activities including input from both Stz’uminus First Nation and Ladysmith participants is the need to focus on restoration and regeneration of historic ecological networks, including the condition of the harbour.  An elder in the Stz’uminus Nation referred to this place as being a historic/traditional “kitchen” (i.e. place of harvest) for his people before settlers arrived.

About the Process

Not only does this plan incorporate directions for healing contaminated waters, but that plan was forged together  between the Stz’uminus First Nation and the Town of Ladysmith.  This ensured shared representation and benefits.

From the very beginning through to the very end of the project, members of both Councils led and informed this planning process. This ranged from selecting the consulting team and co-leading major events, to meeting regularly as a leadership team to review and provide direction on both engagement and technical aspects of the project. It was this steadfast and united engagement that fostered an innovative planning process. This included: a highly participatory design process; tackling of brownfield and environmental contamination issues; integration of heritage, culture, and arts; and focus on place-making through protection and incorporation of the marine industry and authentic working waterfront.

Outcome

In the final plan, objectives underlying policies for ecological management include: to represent both Stz’uminus and Ladysmith cultures within the stewardship of healthy ecological systems; to expand awareness about the spiritual, nurturing, and practical roles and relationship with the environment and its systems; to incorporate ecological rehabilitation into brownfield renewal programs; and more. 

A series of policies and implementation actions that address brownfield issues have been endorsed by the Stz’uminus First Nation and adopted by the Town of Ladysmith.

These include: working with Federal and Provincial agencies to create an economic plan to address land and marine based brownfield contamination in-situ; undertaking risk management approaches to clean-up options; utilizing Green Shores for Coastal Development as a guiding framework for foreshore restoration and storm water management; and more.

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