City to develop and sell $1.5M worth of land

By Dominic Abassi
August 27, 2018 - 9:22pm

A look at two of the five lots the City is taking offers on at 5290 Rutherford Rd.City of Nanaimo

NANAIMO — The City of Nanaimo is stepping into the world of property development by preparing a subdivision and selling off more than $1 million worth of land.

The City is selling five lots at 5290 Rutherford Rd., near the new roundabout at Rutherford and Linley Valley Dr. Deputy director of community development Bill Corsan said the City will subdivide and prepare what was previously one property, originally bought to allow for the road connection into the Linley Valley subdivision.

The lots are being sold in a request for offers process similar to a sealed bid auction. Interested buyers have until Sept. 27 to submit an offer, at which point staff will choose the best offers and bring them forward for Council approval. Four of the lots have a minimum price of $300,000, with one valued at $360,000, based on a third-party appraisal.

With the City currently in the midst of a well-publicized search for an appropriate spot to build supportive or affordable housing, Corsan was asked why these lots weren't held for that purpose.

"This particular location doesn't have public transit to it, is in a predominantly single-family neighbourhood and is a good distance away from commercial activity. So this was not a site we thought would work for that type of project," he said, adding the City continues to work closely with BC Housing on a new location for provincially-funded housing.

Corsan also said revenue from the sale will go into the property acquisition reserve fund, which currently has a balance of $930,000.

"Which will then enable Council to purchase other lands which may be more suitable for other Council initiatives."

The acquisition fund was recently used to purchase Serauxmen Stadium and Rotary Bowl from the school district.

Mayor Bill McKay said he did not support Council's in-camera decision to sell off the land.

"If the City is going to have an affordable housing strategy, they need to have land available. I didn't like the idea of selling off that land, or any piece of land for that matter," McKay said, adding for-profit developers simply won't build affordable housing because they can't make money that way.

As for staff's recommendation on the location being unsuitable, McKay pointed to a recently completed Habitat for Humanity community in Extension.

"Tell that to the folks out there who have a nice home to live in today that's affordable to them that they needed desperately. It's not always about bus routes and services."

The City originally bought the land in December 2015 for $850,000. A City document said the land should be ready for transfer by the end of the year.


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Nanaimo mayor Bill McKay won't run in upcoming election