Community groups pitch ideas to public on Beban Park

NANAIMO – Residents have the chance to weigh this month in on a redevelopment proposal for Beban Park.

Six Nanaimo organizations worked to sell the public on their vision for Beban Park last week – and several residents liked what they saw.

The City of Nanaimo and representatives from groups behind a redevelopment proposal held an open house during the Bowen Road Farmer’s Market on Wednesday, to gauge reaction to a vision to transform an area currently home to riding rings and barn buildings.

The Nanaimo Equestrian Association, Vancouver Island Exhibition Society, Island Roots Market Cooperative and three organizations behind the Indigenous Peoples Place of Culture pitched a plan to construct new facilities at the exhibition grounds to city politicians last June, including a cultural centre with childcare and classrooms, an agricultural centre and indoor market.

Council decided to put the idea to public consultation.

Nanaimo resident Lynne Alton said the plan with the groups could be a model of co-operation in the heart of the city, while her husband, Charles, said the market and facilities for different groups seems like a good idea. Resident Valerie Bresnahan called it a community-based idea rather than a bureaucratic one.

Aileen Tuck, Nanaimo resident, likes the plan, but speaking about the Indigenous Peoples Place of Culture, said it’s important to have a place to go to still connect with culture.

Not being from Snuneymuxw, she’s not in contact with people from her territory, but if there were a centralized place, other nations would be able to come together and she’d still get a sense of belonging to the community, belonging to the teachings, despite not being from here, she said.

“Education is key and to be able to have one place where we can all come together to share the things that we know, to highlight the teachings whether of Snuneymuxw, Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, whatever it is that we’re able to showcase, I think it’s very valuable to have it there and for everybody to be part of that,” she said.

The open house was considered a success by Karen Streeter, president of the VIEX, who said everyone was in support of the plan for all of the buildings.

The City of Nanaimo will accept comments about the redevelopment proposal until the end of the month, including at askpre@nanaimo.ca.

A report on findings and proposed next steps is expected to go to council this fall.