NANAIMO — The City of Nanaimo can now boast to have even more parkland available for families to play in.
Nanaimo councillors voted Monday, July 9 to dedicate 237 acres of forest as parkland. The Greater Nanaimo Water District lands, south of the Nanaimo Parkway between Nanaimo Lakes and Harewood Mines Rd., can no longer be used as anything other than a park without approval of the electorate.
It's the final approval in a lengthy process which started in 2017 involving public consultation and now a re-vote at the Council table. The park dedication was brought up last month but failed when it didn't receive enough council votes. Mayor Bill McKay was the only one opposed, but his lone dissenting voice was enough since several councillors were absent.
He was once again the only voice opposed to the parkland designation on Monday night when the matter was brought back for reconsideration.
“With 250 acres available, I still find it hard to believe we couldn't find 10 to 15 per cent of that to use for affordable housing,” he said.
Mayor McKay has voted against the designation since the beginning.
Previously, he said not restricting some areas as parkland left the City flexible in terms of housing, which he claimed is one of the most pressing concerns in Nanaimo.
He also raised concerns about the lack of funds to develop and maintain the parkland the City already owns.
Staff previously said public consultation found 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.
Featuring old growth trees and a trail network, the forest is a popular recreation area for hikers, dog walkers, and mountain bikers, providing connections to the Trans Canada and Parkway trails.
On Twitter: @nanaimonewsnow
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