Ladysmith Maritime Society: The BC Government Must Take Responsibility For Millions In Losses

The Ladysmith Maritime Society has been a fixture of Ladysmith’s waterfront for nearly four decades. In addition to successfully operating the community marina, bringing thousands of people together at the waterfront each year for community events, LMS has a history investing back into the infrastructure that makes maintaining our heritage and providing space to boaters possible.

That is until the Government of British Columbia, supported by the Town of Ladysmith, decided to give away the marina that LMS developed and maintained, along with 90% of the organization’s revenue without compensation, in the name of reconciliation.

We all agree that the aims of reconciliation are important and believe that for a government who appears as committed to this course as the BC NDP are, that they would have thought through a fair and sensible approach to ensure they aren’t sinking community organizations and others in their wake.

It is naive to believe that the government can act in a way that takes millions of dollars from a vital community organization like LMS to ‘create’ economic opportunities as part of reconciliation without hurting the cause of reconciliation or creating fear among British Columbians about what further agreements could mean for them.

The erosion of public trust is in the hands of Government Ministers who think they can hide from the problems they have created by refusing to engage with non-indigenous stakeholders whose futures they are negotiating before, during or after such agreements are being made.

LMS supports reconciliation and acknowledges the Crown’s relationship with British Columbia’s indigenous people has been marked by  injustice, and has caused trauma and hardship. If we as a society are to move on from the damage of these actions, it is important that the government learn its lessons and not continue to divide communities and cause hardship, now under the banner of reconciliation.

Just last year, the Province was ordered to pay a private hydro electric developer over $10 million dollars for a project rejection that was determined by the courts to be a “misfeasance of government representatives”, which is how the court ruling summed up a rejection of a project made for political reasons that aligned with the province’s reconciliation agenda.

The concerns regarding the Pender Harbour Dock Management Plan and the failed Land Act changes highlight a province that is fearful of how this government is handling these issues.

In our case, after the damage was done, LMS asked the government for compensation for our assets, which they have confiscated and given away. We’ve asked for financial support to enable us to seek a new home on the Ladysmith waterfront, help with permitting and funding to start again, and we’ve asked for help in storing our boathouses and heritage boats in the interim.

We submitted a plan to the government and opposition parties with a path to resolving these issues. Despite months of opportunity, we’ve heard nothing but silence from Ministers and the Premier. Not one BC NDP MLA has agreed to speak with us.

The silence by the BC NDP on this issue is deafening. As they continue to refuse to hear the voices of those they’ve harmed with their reconciliation policies, they risk not only undermining public support in the process, but also losing support to political parties that are willing to engage with all affected stakeholders.

LMS remains committed to working collaboratively towards a just future for all British Columbians,but cannot do that alone. We are calling on the government to live up to its  responsibilities and engage with us directly to address the damage caused by their actions.

Ultimately, if the BC NDP choose to continue to hide, it will be no surprise when concerned citizens across British Columbians stand together to take on this unjust approach as a united front.

Ladysmith Maritime Society

Please contact Richard Wiefelspuett, Executive Director for further comments and information.

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