City of Nanaimo will build a fence around the Service and Resource Centre’s back parking lot. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

City of Nanaimo to fence off SARC lot to thwart ‘anti-social behaviour’ on property

SARC’s parking lot often used as a gathering space, staff report says

An iron fence will be installed behind a city-owned building in downtown Nanaimo in an attempt to mitigate “anti-social” behaviour.

Nanaimo councillors approved a development variance permit in order to construct a 1.8-metre-high fence around the rear parking lot of the city-owned service and resource centre building at 411 Dunsmuir St.

Councillors – without any real discussion around the table at Monday night’s meeting – approved the variance.

According to a staff report, the city is planning to install a wrought iron fence with a gate access along Wesley Street, where the rear parking lot of the SARC building is located. The gate would be left open during office hours but would have controlled access outside of office hours.

The city’s fence will connect with another fence that has been approved for a neighbouring property at 424 Wesley St., according to the report. A 2.9-metre fence dividing the two properties will also be constructed. Fences have already been installed at other neighbouring properties including one on Albert Street.

SARC is located near a 36-unit housing development with an overdose prevention site as well as a needle exchange site.

The city argues that a fence is needed because after traditional working hours the parking lot is “often used as an unauthorized gathering space” and is frequently subjected to “damage, vandalism, littering, drug use, open fires and anti-social behaviour,” which have concerned staff.

“Maintenance staff are unable to take garbage out and perform routine outside maintenance after business hours due to the potential for confrontation,” the report notes.

Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development, said the city is opting to install a decorative fence instead of a chain link fence, adding that neighbouring properties have similar types of fences. He said some nearby properties have experienced some “maintenance issues” over the long-term with chain link fences.

“We believe a decorative fence is a better approach,” he said.

The fence estimated to be around $25,000 to $30,000 but that some of the costs for the fence will be covered by the owners of 424 Wesley St, according to Lindsay. 
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