NANAIMO — The City of Nanaimo is taking the next steps to re-imagine their downtown waterfront lands.
The most recent draft of the Port Drive Waterfront Master Plan, regarding what and how to build on 1 Port Dr. was approved by Nanaimo City Council during the committee of the whole meeting on Monday, Jan. 8.
The plan includes:
- a new roundabout at the corner of Front St. behind the Port Place parkade
- transit hub for buses won't impact road congestion
- a new park beside the Gabriola Ferry terminal
- extending the waterfront walkway through the site
- rezoning large sections of the land to allow apartments and businesses
- new apartment buildings and shops close to the water to turn the waterfront area into a thriving part of Nanaimo's downtown
Many aspects of the future look of 1 Port Dr. are still to be determined:
- Protection Island residents asked to have a service ramp included in the plan, to provide quicker access to the Island. City staff said it would be discussed in future community consultations. A previously considered boat ramp and commuter dock for Protection Island was referenced in the draft plan but not considered over various issues.
- Organizers of a proposed $50 million Ocean Discovery Centre asked for their project to be included in the draft plan, which councillors approved unanimously.
Though Council approved the most recent draft of the plan, many questions lingered:
- Consultation with Snuneymuxw First Nation was a perceived issue, with many councillors saying they wanted more discussions between the two before moving ahead. Chief administrative officer Tracy Samra told Council there were previous talks on the issue, but it still needed to be addressed in the future.
- Earlier that night, SFN released a statement saying there was no talks about the land and the City had no right to develop it without consultations. NanaimoNewsNOW has reached out to SFN for further comment but has yet to receive a reply.
- Including industrial possibilities for the land was questioned by both coun. Jerry Hong and Ian Thorpe. City staff said in this case, being listed as an industrial area doesn't explicitly mean big industry like factories and shipping, but could be “artist warehouse studios, tech farms, there's a whole range of things that people see as potential uses.”
Only coun. Bill Yoachim, citing his concern over a lack of consultations with SFN, was opposed to endorsing the draft plan.
With the most recent draft of the plan endorsed by Council, City staff will then turn to both public and private stakeholders for more input before presenting a final plan. There is no timeline for the creation of the final plan.
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