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Harewood to begin neighbourhood plan process

One of Nanaimo's oldest and largest communities will soon be undergoing a process to build a neighbourhood plan.

Harewood, home to about 12,000 people and just under 5,000 residential units, will begin the 12-month process later this year after city council unanimously agreed to initiate a plan.

With an increase in development pressure, construction of University Village, completion of the Vancouver Island University Campus Master Plan, and with surrounding neighbourhoods all with a plan, Coun. Fred Pattje said Harewood was a natural to be next.

"There is funding this year for one plan and Harewood is it," said Pattje, adding the financial plan set aside about $60,000 for the process. "But it's going to be a challenge because of the size and diversity of Harewood, and the key point is, as it always is, attracting the residents we need to participate during the process."

Harewood's official boundary runs into Chase River near Tenth Street, west to Vancouver Island University, east to the railway tracks that separate it from the downtown core, and north to Bowen Road.

The area has a rich coal mining and agricultural history, is home to Colliery Dam Park, Buttertubs Marsh, the Nanaimo Ice Centre and the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, and, according to 2006 census statistics, contains more single people than all the rest of Nanaimo. People nearing retirement and students also make up a large portion of the population.

The most recent neighbourhood plans to be completed in Nanaimo were for Newcastle-Brechin and the South End last year. Both of those processes included some controversy, which helped to attract residents to participate in workshops and design charettes.

Sandy Coones, spokeswoman for the Harewood Neighbourhood Association, said the organization wants to reserve comment on the decision to go ahead with a plan until it can be discussed at the next general meeting.

A neighbourhood plan addresses land use and development, social enrichment and culture, economic development, environmental protection, transportation, parks and design guidelines.

Andrew Tucker, director of planning for Nanaimo, said the Harewood plan process will likely incorporate some precedent-setting decisions for the city.

"The Third Street corridor has been identified in the official community plan as a priority area for corridor planning," said Tucker. "It's in some ways a testing ground for policy about corridors in the OCP. The Fifth Street corridor is also a focus in terms of corridors and its connection to the university."

Goal Seven of the OCP, adopted in 2008, speaks to neighbourhood and area planning as critical to achieving the objectives of the document.

reporter2@nanaimobulletin.com

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