Ladysmith's First Ave earns national award as 2017 Great Street

By NanaimoNewsNOW Staff
November 10, 2017 - 1:12pm Updated: November 13, 2017 - 6:41am

First Ave. in Ladysmith, named the Great Street for 2017.Canadian Institute of Planners

LADYSMITH — First Ave. in Ladysmith is well known regionally for its quaint appeal but now it's being recognized by professionals on the national stage.

The Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) awarded Ladysmith's First Ave. the title of 2017 Great Street in the annual 2017 Great Places in Canada contest.

Mayor Aaron Stone said it's an honour for the community, crediting an exceptionally strong base of volunteers and business owners for making First Ave. what it is.

“It's such a great recognition of all of that work and all of that love and attention that's really driven from the grassroots of the community.”

Stone said there were hundreds of submissions from across Canada.

The CIP, which represents 6,700 planning professionals in Canada, had a panel single out Ladysmith over three other finalists.

“First Ave. exhibits all of the qualities one would expect from a great street: visually-interesting building facades, generous sidewalks, attractive landscaping and artistic details, places to rest, and places to gather,” a CIP release said.

“Heritage preservation, the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, and the many unique and publicly accessible festivals and events held throughout the year, are key ingredients to First Avenue’s success as a Great Street.”

Stone said there was an effort in the late 80's and early 90's to make improvements to public spaces by business owners on First Ave. From there, volunteers and community groups built events, like the historic Festival of Lights, Arts on the Avenue and car shows.

“As we move forward with priorities around broadening our tax base and driving employment opportunities, this can't help but embolden the people looking to invest in Ladysmith.”

It's not the first time a mid-island location has been honoured. Nanaimo's Commercial St. won the innaugaural Great Street contest in 2011.

— With files from Ian Holmes


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