The City of Nanaimo has started making changes to zoning and the community plan in order to expand Colliery Dam Park.
City council, at a meeting May 7, passed first and second readings of official community plan and zoning amendments, and first, second and third readings of a park dedication bylaw for former Greater Nanaimo Water District land in the south end.
The properties, at 801, 1150 and 1151 Nanaimo Lakes Rd., total 96 hectares and are located south of Colliery Dam Park, which is currently 28 hectares.
Coun. Jerry Hong felt that a parcel of land along Harewood Mines Road should have been carved off and set aside for affordable housing or something similar.
“I do believe that we should preserve this [as park], but having a little space, I think, would have made a huge difference in what we can do in terms of affordable housing,” he said.
Mayor Bill McKay agreed, saying parts of the properties would have been “easily available” for that purpose.
“It appears council values parks more than they do housing,” McKay said.
He added that the land also could have also been useful as trade-off parkland to give the city options if it ever needed to use existing park somewhere else in the city for other purposes.
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Coun. Gord Fuller said he’s an advocate for affordable housing, but thinks other opportunities will come up on that front.
“You can plant trees, but you can’t grow forests, not within the community like this,” he said. “This has a huge potential to create a far more significant park in the south end, which is just as valuable as affordable housing, giving people a place to go and really enjoying the outdoors.”
Certain parcels of the water land are being excluded from the park dedication, including Reservoir No. 1, a parks yard that could house potential headquarters for Nanaimo Search and Rescue, and a Nanaimo Animal Shelter covenant area.