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RDN seeks airport land-use consultant

The Regional District of Nanaimo is hiring a consultant to look into land-use jurisdiction at the Nanaimo Airport.

Confusion over airport land use and jurisdiction has slowed the Area A (Cedar, Yellow Point, Cassidy and South Wellington) Official Community Plan review and the RDN is planning a region-wide consultation to clarify its position on aviation-related land use and receive public input about development at the airport.

Paul Thompson, RDN manager of long range planning, said around $50,000 was approved in the district’s budget to hire a consultant to design the process to look at the airport lands.

“It’s a matter of getting a request for proposal ready, sending it out and choosing someone,” he said. “The idea is to provide some information to make everybody more aware of roles and responsibilities [at the airport] and ideally come up with more certainty with respect to what the future land use is going to be.”

The Mid Island Sustainability and Stewardship Initiative raised concerns over development at the airport, saying the RDN has legal requirements to attend to the public’s concerns and basic environmental protection regulations in the area.

Laurie Gourlay, initiative president, said if the consultant is independent and if terms of reference for the work are developed in concert with the communities directly affected by the airport, he would have more faith in the process.

“A lot of consultants will say what the dollar tells them to say. It’s their jobs and I can’t fault them,” he said. “The RDN board makes statements about wanting water protection and ecological sustainability, but economic feasibility  seems to take precedent over everything.”

Thompson anticipates hiring the consultant within several weeks.

 

 

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