1st Avenue washroom

Downtown Washroom Project – Award Winner!

It might not be something that every BC community would like to brag about, but Ladysmith has just been named a winner in the field of bathrooms. We all know the town is a winner but in this situation it’s the new downtown public washrooms that have earned top honours. Well, top honours amongst the Kinsmen Clubs of BC. This past weekend the Kin and Kinette Clubs of District Five (B.C.) held their annual provincial Kinvention in Duncan. During the year clubs and members, as well as doing community work, compete for various awards. The highest, most sought-after award is the District Governor’s Service Shield, which is presented to the Kin or Kinette Club that has been determined to have done the best community service project in the province. The purpose of the award is to encourage service projects, judged on a basis which assess true value to the community, its citizens and to the Club in such a manner that all clubs, new and old, small and large, may compete equally.

Outgoing Ladysmith president, Cory Friesenhan, said, “We were surprised and hugely proud when our project was announced. Our members felt we had a good chance at winning but we also were in it with every other club in BC so can’t take anything for granted.” There is over 60 clubs in B.C. and almost 1,200 members in the province. The local club has 16 members. “The one thing that we know,” stated Friesenhan, “is we know we can finish the job. When we take on a project with the community, it might take us longer, but we’ll do the best dam job we can till we get it done.”

“This isn’t the first time our club has achieved this honour,” project co-chair Duck Paterson said. “When we built the spray park, at Transfer Beach, we got the top marks then and in 2012 we re-built the Kinsmen Park (Brown Dr.) playground and not only did that win the provincial service award but it also won the Canadian national service award,” he went on. “The biggest thing we have on our side,” said Paterson, “is we have the community working with us. The support we get from local businesses and other organizations, as well as the Town, really makes it possible for our members, and other volunteers, to help make a difference. We can’t do these things on our own, we’re cool at cooking hot dogs, but going beyond that we are always looking for additional help and Ladysmith steps forward.”

As part of the submission, the club had to send to the district awards committee was a detailed budget along with the plan and program on how the project was completed. Kinsmen Mike Richardson, project co-chair, said, “We could do the submission pretty quickly, but when it came time to do the actual costing, that was almost impossible,” he said. “We had so many hours donated by many businesses and contractors as well as equipment time and a huge amount of the fixtures, so what the washrooms did cost and should have cost is quite a bit different,” he said. The amount of money the club spent to build the washrooms was almost $100,000. “If we had just gone out and hired a contractor and built the washrooms the regular way the price tag would have been over $147,000 plus,” said Richardson.

The Kinsmen started talking about constructing downtown washrooms in 2018. After a couple of years, the club got serious when Covid arrived, it really showed the need to have public accessible washrooms downtown. “What we wanted to do,” said Paterson “was to make them different. We wanted them to be unique so that they would add to the Ladysmith experience,” he said. The washrooms have a blue sky with fluffy cloud ceilings and also a ‘window’ that has a view of the water, as well there is a planter out front with flowers and a bench plus a water bottle filler/drinking fountain. All the fixtures are motion activated and there is a utility room so that town staff can keep all supplies, etc right at the building for efficiency.

The club’s winning project will now go to Kinsmen National where it will be viewed along with the other nine district winners. The winner of the Canadian competition will be announced at the association’s annual Kinvention in Halifax in mid-August.