City’s Nanaimo Lakes Road property remains dormant

NANAIMO – Council agreed to consider parks opportunity for land on Nanaimo Lakes Road.

A question mark still looms over whether there will be parkland on the city’s Nanaimo Lakes Road property, four years after council agreed to study the possibility.

Nanaimo city council agreed last term on a public planning process to look at park and recreational opportunities for 62 hectares of city land, including 1150 and 1151 Nanaimo Lakes Rd. The public, however hasn’t yet been consulted and the park potential of the property is now in front of councillors during a strategic and capital project priority process.

A new reservoir, which is now complete, had been recommended then at Colliery Dam Park, and council requested the parks and rec commission explore opportunities for park use at its adjoining property to make up for loss of community park area, a city report shows.

A three-step public planning process was approved in 2012 to review existing conditions, get public and stakeholder input and prepare a plan. Completion was expected in winter 2013, but four years later, staff report that only the first stage is complete and the public process has stalled.

Bill Corsan, manager of real estate, said there was nothing nefarious about it – everybody got busy and it became a lower priority.

“It’s on our radar, it’s just not at the top,” he said.

Mayor Bill McKay, who confirmed the land has appeared on a strategic priority process list, said he wants council to decide if it wants the land to be converted to park or considered as potential for an affordable housing initiative.

“If we’ve got land that we’ve got control over, what better than for us to promote an affordable housing program,” he said.

McKay also sees the land coming into play if the city wants to dispose of Caledonia Park for development because the municipality is mandated to replace park with park.

Coun. Jerry Hong said the land is something council will have to have a serious discussion about and he’d love to see some of it as park.

“We own it right now,” he said. “We can do whatever we want with it, if we decide to use it for other purposes we still can.”

Hong said there are sensitive ecological areas and he doesn’t want to do anything rash by developing the entire area.

Council goes on a retreat Wednesday (June 15) to talk about strategic priorities, with a report expected June 20.