NANAIMO — There's still no clear direction from City Council on the future of a large piece of forested City-owned land in south Nanaimo.
Council voted for more information, including additional public consultation, before deciding what the future of a 252 acre site beside Colliery Dams Park should look like. Council also rejected a staff recommendation Monday night to declare the northern edge of the site along Nanaimo Lakes Rd. as park land.
The City's parks and open space planner Rob Lawrance told NanaimoNewsNOW staff will reach out again to the public and community groups to gauge their visions for the former Greater Nanaimo Water District (GNWD) land.
“Get as much input as we can on the idea of getting social housing on the northern portion of 1150 Nanaimo Lakes Rd., but also looking at the recommendations of having additional parkland in the south end of the Parkway,” he said of their plan.
Lawrance said public engagement last year showed strong support for including the GNWD lands into the city's parks system, while there was also modest public interest in considering the space for development uses like social housing and educational space.
City Coun. Gord Fuller strongly supported designating a large chunk of the forest, between Harewood Mines and Nanaimo Lakes Rd., as a park during Monday's council meeting.
“I would love to see that whole area designated park, it's a far bigger area, has really cool trails, whereas the sliver (north of Parkway) has been logged, it's not old growth forest.”
Lawrance said the southern portion of the GNWD property is popular with hikers, dog walkers and mountain bikers and it's also ideal for recreational crowds since it's linked to the Trans Canada and Parkway Trails systems already.
However, the door is not entirely shut on residential development in a portion of the southern GNWD site. Lawrance said a servicing study for water and sewer lines is being looked at for the Harewood Mines Rd. area.
“But it is a huge cost and it's a huge barrier that currently is preventing any reasonable development happening at least in the near future.”
Lawrance said an open house for the GNWD lands would likely happen in September.
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