The city will not allow a proposed steep slope residential development in the Linley Valley to proceed.
City council, at its meeting Monday at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, voted unanimously in favour of a staff recommendation to deny an official community plan amendment application for a 29.3-hectare parcel of land on Tanya Drive.
Broadview Developments Inc. had asked that three adjacent properties be moved from the urban reserve into a neighbourhood designation. After that, the land could have been rezoned into steep slope residential with 16 housing units per hectare.
A citizens’ group called Save Linley Valley’s Hidden Ridge led opposition to the OCP amendment application and delivered a petition with more than 2,700 signatures to council on Monday.
“We feel like the citizens have spoken during our campaign,” said Susan Juby, a member of the steering committee. “Our research, petition results and the countless conversations that we’ve had with people all over this city indicate that the citizens of Nanaimo do not support this OCP amendment application and don’t support the proposed development of these lands.”
Council agreed, with most citing a desire to preserve green space in that part of the city.
“This is another outdoor, passive-recreation learning centre of health and wellness that can never, ever be duplicated by Butterfly World, by some zoo somewhere to show people within an urban area what a tree is,” said Coun. Bill Bestwick.
Coun. Ian Thorpe said from his standpoint, there was “no crucial need” to take the land out of the urban reserve.
“It’s only meant to be removed if there is a housing demand and we have other lands that can accommodate our housing needs at this time,” Thorpe said.
- RELATED: Group opposes potential development at Linley Valley’s Hidden Ridge
David Steingard, representing Broadview, suggested his group had taken the appropriate steps of trying to work with the community.
“We met the public … to present a concept, that’s all we wanted to present, with less than one-half of the density of neighbouring zoned properties,” he said.
He indicated that his group might go forward with trying to develop two-hectare lots on the properties, which is a permitted use, or might be interested in selling the properties to the city or swapping them.
Coun. Diane Brennan said the city should look into the possibility of acquiring the land, saying it’s too valuable to lose to housing.
“I’d like not to lose it at all,” she said. “I’d like to have our staff begin conversations with the owners to see what kinds of agreements that we might be able to make regarding that beautiful piece of property.”
That’s a stated goal of Save Linley Valley’s Hidden Ridge – the group’s petition not only called on council to reject the rezoning application, but also to develop a plan for the valley and acquire the three Tanya Drive properties.
“As Nanaimo’s population grows and density increases, Linley Valley will be a beautiful, natural oasis within our busy urban city,” said Vicki Adamson, a member of the steering committee, at Monday’s meeting. “You, our city council, have an opportunity here to add a stunning piece of land to the existing legacy for residents and visitors to enjoy for generations to come.”