Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson and Mayor Aaron Stone at the announcement on Friday morning that Ladysmith has received $1.8-million in federal gas tax funding to help with repairs and upgrades to the Machine Shop. (Mike Gregory Photo)

Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Selina Robinson and Mayor Aaron Stone at the announcement on Friday morning that Ladysmith has received $1.8-million in federal gas tax funding to help with repairs and upgrades to the Machine Shop. (Mike Gregory Photo)

Ladysmith receives $1.8M for upgrades to historic Machine Shop

Ladysmith has received $1.8-million in federal gas tax funding to assist in the restoration of the historic Machine Shop on the town’s waterfront.

There was a roar of applause from community members in the Ladysmith Waterfront Arts Centre Gallery, on the top floor of the building, after the Mayor Aaron Stone made the annoucement alongside Selina Robinson, B.C. Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley.

“Arts, culture and heritage are important elements in all sustainable communities,” said Mayor Aaron Stone. “This funding will help to nurture and expand on these cultural assets and allow the Machine Shop to remain a focal point of our waterfront initiatives. With these investments, the Machine Shop and surrounding Arts and Heritage Hub will continue to play a pivotal role in Ladysmith’s unique waterfront experience for decades to come.”

The total cost of upgrades to the building are estimated at $2.25 million and the town has applied to the Island Coastal Economic Trust in the hopes of securing the remainder of the funding.

The Machine Shops was originally built in 1943 and maintains an important cultural and heritage hub for the town. Its current tenants include the art gallery, the Ladysmith Maritime Society as well as several artist studios, including Coast Salish carver John Marston.

Minister Robinson, who had an opportunity to tour the art gallery prior to the announcement, said buildings such as the Machine Shop are important because they are valued by community as a gathering place.

“It’s a very unique place to be able to come together and create art and then display it. I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else in the province so you have a very signifant treasure here…..it’s also an economic driver in bringing people down to the waterfront and appreciate the history of Ladysmith, where it’s been and where it’s headed,” she said.

The Machine Shop restoration is one of over 100 projects that will share in the $193-million in federal gas tax funding announced on Friday.

More to come