News & Events

Ladysmith Waterfront Area Plan wins Gold Award for Excellence in Policy Planning

November 28, 2019

The Planning Institute of British Columbia (PIBC) has announced 2018’s honorees for the finest examples of professional planning work in British Columbia and the Yukon.

The Ladysmith Waterfront Area Plan, situated on the unceded territory of the Stz’uminus First Nation has been celebrated by the PIBC in the Excellence in Planning – Small Town & Rural Areas category.

The Plan’s process offers a precedent for working in the spirit of reconciliation, from the very beginning through to the very end of the project, members of both Councils led and informed this planning process. ‘ltst uw’hw-nuts’ ul-wum – ‘we are working as one’ was the guiding principle in the creation of the plan. The experience strengthened relationships while establishing a vision, policies, and actions to guide redevelopment of the waterfront. The process was deeply participatory and demonstrated success in meaningful collaboration between a municipality and First Nation during a planning process.

DIALOG worked with the Town and Stz’uminus Nation to lead the year-long engagement and design process for almost 50 hectares of land and water lots, most of which is government owned. At the heart of the process was a multi-day community charrette that brought together both communities. The session was designed to build relationships and remove barriers for participation – enabling all participants to be hands-on in creating the design.  At the end of the process, there were approximately 1,700 direct interactions with residents, which is very significant for communities whose combined population is only 9,300.

“I believe we are on the right track in regards to being respectful to each other as long as we plan for the greater community and be inclusive of both sides of the harbour… We as the First Nation side would like to see ourselves be represented in the town. I know there is a history, some of it not good, but when we put that behind us and move forward, we can create a greater community for our children and children’s children. I know in my heart we are moving forward.” -Public participant, Stz’uminus First Nation.

Emerging from input from the Stz’uminus community, there is an intentional design sensitivity in the plan of sharing spaces for the two communities and independent spaces for First Nations that protect the privacy of sacred ceremonies and hereditary teachings.

“All development should celebrate the Stz’uminus First Nation culture, both current and historic… The waterfront project is a unique opportunity to show our Stz’uminus neighbours and the world that we recognize our settlement on Stz’uminus land, that we embrace their presence, and that we welcome their guidance now and into the future.” -Public participant, Ladysmith.