Skip to content

Ladysmith Maritime Society trying to block marina transer in court

Group locked in dispute with the city over marina transfer to local First Nation
The Ladysmith Maritime Society filed on Tuesday, Nov. 28, a notice of application for a B.C. Supreme Court injunction to prevent the Town of Ladysmith from abandoning a marina lease agreement on Dec. 31. (Chronicle file photo)

The Ladysmith Maritime Society commenced legal proceedings against the Town of Ladysmith over a dispute over the Ladysmith Community Marina’s lease, which is to be transferred to Stz’uminus First Nation as part of a reconciliation agreement.

On Tuesday, Nov. 28, the society filed a notice of application for a B.C. Supreme Court injunction after it was given until year’s end to vacate the marina, and attempts to negotiate with the Town of Ladysmith, the First Nation, and the province were unsuccessful.

Read more: Ladysmith mayor booed at council meeting by maritime society supporters

“LMS efforts to engage in good faith have unfortunately been ignored or otherwise rebuffed. LMS have also had to battle a fundamentally inaccurate narrative that LMS is unco-operative and unwilling to compromise the rights that it presently enjoys under its existing agreements,” noted a news release from the society. “In response to this untenable situation, LMS has commenced legal proceedings against the relevant parties in connection to the proposed abandonment of the lease and the alleged wrongful termination of the licence agreement.”

Read more: Ladysmith marina operator being evicted from the harbour

In 2022, the province and Stz’uminus signed a reconciliation agreement which committed to land transfers valued at up to $28.5 million, and the two parties approached the town with the option to transfer the marina’s lease to Stz’uminus’s economic arm, the Coast Salish Development Corporation, ahead of the 2029 contract end date.

After talks between the parties fell through, this past spring the maritime society was given until Dec. 31 to vacate the premises to facilitate the agreement, and in a closed meeting during the summer, Ladysmith council members voted to abandon the lease on Dec. 31.

The society seeks the court injunction to halt the abandonment of the lease and “ensure that LMS’ entitlement to a fair hearing in relation to the subject matter of [the abandonment] will not be nullified by the time the petition is heard on its merits,” according to the application.

The complainant, in the court documents, claim that the town breached its “duty of procedural fairness” because it didn’t notify the maritime society that it would be discussing and deciding on abandonment of the lease.

The application states that denying an injunction would result in “irreparable harm” to LMS, as the society “could lose the almost 40-year investment that it has made in the development, maintenance and operation of the marina and related amenities in the water lot, including the museum, the welcome centre, the sea life centre and more.” LMS estimates the replacement value of assets in and around the water lot at $5.75 million.

The society, in the court documents, says there “do not appear to be alternative locations” where it can pursue its mandate. It says it relies on the marina as its principal source of revenue to fund its programs and events.

“If an injunction is denied and LMS’ relationship with the town is terminated, the very foundation of LMS’ existence will effectively come to an end and LMS will likely cease to exist as a society,” the court filing notes.

The application will be made Dec. 8 in Vancouver.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
Read more