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Itst uw’hw-nuts’ ul-wum  – We are working as one

The Town of Ladysmith and Stz’uminus First Nation Nation signed the Naut ‘sa Mawt Community Accord to work together for the mutual benefit of both communities. What’s materialized is the award-winning Waterfront Area Plan.

Town of Ladysmith, BC


The planning site is situated on 50 acres of unceded territory of the Stz’uminus First Nation. In the late 1800s, European settlers used this harbour as a shipping port for coal, leaving behind millions of tons of coal-wash, extensively contaminating land and water. This project brought together both the Town of Ladysmith and Stz’uminus First Nation to develop a waterfront plan in the spirit of strengthening their relationship.

We Are Working As One

DIALOG led the year-long engagement and design process, working in partnership with both communities. The experience strengthened relationships while establishing a vision, policies, and actions to guide redevelopment of the waterfront. At the heart of the process was a 2-day community charrette that brought together both communities, and ‘ltst uw’hw-nuts’ ul-wum – we are working as one’ emerged as the guiding principle in the creation of the plan. Important project elements include ecological restoration, cultural exchange and protection, adaptive re-use of heritage structures, and stimulation of neighbourhood-scale investment through place-making and development.


This highly participatory design process tackled the brownfield and environmental contamination issues, integrated heritage, culture, and arts, and focused on place-making through protection and incorporation of the marine industry and authentic working waterfront. However, the most innovative and important contribution is its demonstrated success in meaningful collaboration and relationship-building between a municipality and First Nation during a planning process.

Plan Implementation

A vision is only as good as it is implementable. With an eye on pragmatic outcomes for the entire process, the project involved engagement of environmental and geotechnical consultants to understand barriers and costs for addressing environmental contamination, as this was a barrier to development in the past. Likewise, land economists were engaged to understand the extent of revenue opportunities on public land to generate the capital needed to cover plan costs. The plan itself includes an implementation strategy that identifies immediate, short, medium, and longer term guidance to bring the vision to life. These actions cover studies, agreements, bylaws, subdivision, public and private investment, brownfield renewal, and more detailed sub-area master plans. The Stz’uminus First Nation and Town of Ladysmith are now jointly embarking on implementation of the plan, and have already secured federal funding to assist in a heritage restoration project in the heart of the waterfront.

Project facts

Services: Planning, Urban Design, Community Engagement
Clients: Town of Ladysmith
Completion: May 2018

Achievements & Awards

Gold Award – Excellence in Policy Planning – Planning Institute of British Columbia

Reach Out Award – Brownie Awards