British Columbia

Planners name Ladysmith, B.C.'s First Avenue as best street in the country

Ladysmith's historic First Avenue has been named the best street in the country by the Canadian Institute of Planners.

'We call it the living room of our community,' says Mayor Aaron Stone

The restored historic buildings lining Ladysmith's First Avenue helped convince he Canadian Institute of Planners to name the street as Canada's best. (Town of Ladysmith)

Ladysmith's First Avenue is fantastic, and now has a trophy to prove it.

This week, the Vancouver Island town's main drag was named the best street in Canada for 2017 by the Canadian Institute of Planners. 

Aaron Stone, the mayor of Ladysmith, said the win was unexpected, but the victory is a tribute to the people in the community that have made the street a special place.

"All the things that we do as local government are really just a foundation and a framework for all the work our volunteers and local business owners and the community groups do that really turned it into a vibrant and exciting place to be," Stone told On The Island host Gregor Craigie.

Storybook style

Stone likened the street to something out of a storybook, with its historical buildings, brightly-painted shops, cool eateries, and unique gathering spots such as the town centre's large chess board.

Generations of volunteers have put in the effort to restore the street's historic assets, and according to Stone, business owners have worked hard to match the existing character of the street.

"So many people have told me since I have been mayor that they used to think Ladysmith is just a few gas stations on the highway, but only a short block away from the highway is one of the best maintained and historical downtowns," said Stone.

Ladysmith is well-known for its Festival of Lights that features colourful holiday displays along First Avenue. (Town of Ladysmith)

Loitering allowed

Stone said First Avenue is designed for people to linger on and enjoy themselves. 

"We call it the living room of our community," said Stone.

"Our door is open for people who want to come and visit and see what it is that makes it so special."

The Canadian Institute of Planners reviewed 17 submissions from across the country for the award.

The award was based on a set of criteria that included social and economic factors, as well as design, culture, history and landscaping.

With files from On The Island.

To hear the complete interview click on the audio below: