NANAIMO — A sizable section of forested land south of Colliery Dam Park is destined to become parkland after all, thanks to a change of direction by Nanaimo city councillors.
Council voted Monday to officially designate a portion of the 252-acre Greater Nanaimo Water District (GNWD) lands as park and open space.
Just two weeks prior, council rejected a staff recommendation to place a park designation on the section of the land north of the Parkway. They voted instead to have staff explore development options, including affordable housing.
Coun. Jim Kipp, who was absent from the July 10 meeting when the original motion passed, asked for the issue to be reconsidered. Ultimately council struck down the idea of exploring development, instead endorsing a motion to dedicate land between Colliery Dam Park and the Parkway as park.
Coun. Gord Fuller, who was the only councillor to change their vote, said he wanted to get the public involved in fighting for more park space.
“I don't think a lot of people paid attention to the (staff) report...What I wanted to do was get people's attention, piss people off, get them mad and get them to look at this,” Fuller said at Monday's meeting.
When questioned by a delegation after the vote, Fuller denied sparking the discussion around development of the land was part of a plan to create a community discussion.
"It wasn't a plan at the time...In order to get it brought back and discussed, that's when I came up with a plan. Piss people off and get them discussing it. It worked," Fuller said, adding he concluded there are better ways to raise money to preserve parkland than cutting up existing parks.
The original decision on July 10 led to widespread outrage on various Facebook forums from people wanting to see the entire property as parkland.
Staff will now prepare a bylaw to rezone the lands to park, as was originally recommended. Director of community planning Dale Lindsay said the northern section was already designated for parks and open space in the Official Community Plan.
“Once it's completed and the associated bylaws adopted, it can't be removed or sold without the approval of the electorate,” Lindsay said, referring to the northern portions of 801 and 1150 Nanaimo Lakes Rd.
He said the area south of the Parkway is designated rural reserve in the community plan and zoned agricultural. Concepts for future uses and zoning for the southern portion will be taken back to the community for more consultation.
An open house on the topic is slated for September.
On Twitter: @reporterholmes
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