RDN public hearings cancelled

A pair of public hearings on the Regional District of Nanaimo’s regional growth strategy have been cancelled following requests for input and information from First Nations and government agencies.

The hearings were scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday (Sept. 7-8) at Beban Park Recreation Centre and Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, respectively.

Paul Thompson, RDN manager of long range planning said the meetings were cancelled after K’ómoks First Nation requested an opportunity to provide comments and receive clarification on how the growth strategy will affect them.

“And after requests from some provincial agencies, the RDN did make some changes to the growth strategy,” he said. “We hope to hold new meetings before the end of September. As soon as we get notice we can proceed, we’ll send information out to the public.”

The cancellation of the hearings prompted the Mid Island Sustainability and Stewardship Initiative to submit growth strategy recommendations regarding 'green' jobs and economic benefits to the RDN as well as the Cowichan Valley Regional District. The group suggests a larger vision also be considered – one that incorporates partnership between regions and across Georgia Strait.

"We've been working on this over the last year, had regional growth strategy folks at meetings and kind of made overtures suggesting this rather than hammering anything home, said Laurie Gourlay, MISSI president. "With the cancellations of the hearings, we decided to put it into a package because they're either not picking up on the suggestions or they have other agendas."

Gourlay said Vancouver's 'Green City' initiative offers many new reasons to emphasize and promote the mid-Island's natural assets including the cross-boundary area of Cedar/Yellow Point offering rural, agricultural and forest lands and the Nanaimo River and Haslam Creek watersheds.

"It's a green gateway to Vancouver Island," he said. "We have the coastal lands and waters, dedicated ferry connections to Vancouver Island along with heavy industrial port facilities, and we've set aside light industrial areas along the Island Highway and E&N railline to Victoria and Courtenay."

The regional growth strategy is a plan adopted by the RDN board defining a vision of social, economic and environmental goals for affected municipalities and districts.

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