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Nanaimo waterfront redevelopment begins

The South Downtown Waterfront Committee will continue keep an eye on progress at the industrial waterfront, as the city takes its first steps toward revitalization.

Nanaimo city council agreed Monday to keep the South Downtown Waterfront Committee on as an advisory body while it prepares its 10.8-hectare share of industrial waterfront for redevelopment.

The city plans to spend  upwards of $400,000 this year to do an environmental site analysis and demolish an old pallet yard, which sits on one of the few parcels of land unencumbered by rights-of-way. There are also plans to remove an old CP ferry dock and service the site of a passenger ferry terminal.

Dave Witty, spokesman for the waterfront committee, said it’s important short-term actions don’t compromise the promise of the area. He considers the move to allow the committee to continue assisting and providing advice to council as a key step moving forward. The group had created a long-range vision for the water’s edge.

“What it says is the city is interested in ensuring there’s continuity,” he said of the decision. “It’s good to have another set of eyes ... that provide perspective for the whole site as well.”

The City of Nanaimo bought the property spanning the Wellcox yard to the border of Snuneymuxw First Nation land last year for $3.4 million with the aim to create a transit hub. The waterfront committee also envisions  an extended waterfront walkway, public spaces and housing.

Coun. Fred Pattje, who worked with the committee, said it’s important to have a committee to keep an eye on what happens on the site and said if the city doesn’t do things now, it would impede potentially greater possibilities later on.

Short-term work budgeted by the city includes $800,000 for the removal of structures. The lease with the pallet company will expire at the end of September. There is also $115,000 set aside for an environmental investigation, which will be done by Tetra Tech EBA; a $67,000 master plan and $125,000 to service the new ferry terminal site.

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