An artist rendering of a proposed plaza in front of Lantzville’s district hall. The proposal is part of the district’s Village Core Improvement Plan, which was recently endorsed by councillors. (Lantzville staff/News Bulletin file)

Improvement plan for Lantzville’s downtown area finally receives endorsement

The five-year-old improvement plan suggests creating public plaza at Lantzville’s district hall

A redevelopment plan for Lantzville’s downtown area has been given new life after sitting dormant for years.

District of Lantzville councillors unanimously endorsed the adoption and implementation of the Village Core Improvement Plan during a council meeting late last month.

Lantzville’s downtown area is called the village core. The district’s official community plan defines the village core as the area between Huddlestone Park and St. Philips by the Sea Anglican Church. It also encompasses the area around Ware Road.

The improvement plan suggests numerous changes that would dramatically alter the look of the village core by encouraging a “compact” Lantzville Road that includes mixed-use developments, with commercial units on ground floors and residential units above, as part of an effort to make the area more walkable and vibrant.

Among the changes recommended in the plan are a public plaza in front of Lantzville’s district hall and increasing street furniture, trees and public art along Lantzville Road. It also recommends adding bike lanes, transitioning to street lights instead of lamps affixed to telephone poles, creating space for a farmers’ market, adding bus stops, unifying on-street parking, defining off-street parking areas and installing welcome signs throughout the community.

The Village Core Improvement Plan has existed in a draft form but remained idle for more than four years. According to a staff report, council first initiated the process of developing an improvement plan for the village core in June 2013. A nine-member committee was eventually formed and public engagement sessions were held throughout 2014. Although a draft plan was approved that same year by councillors, according to the report, its implementation was never endorsed resulting in no further action has been taken and no improvements being made in the village core to date.

During the Jan. 28 council meeting, Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain said the plan is “a long time coming” and a big step forward for the district.

“I am really excited about this. I think it is going to be a fantastic thing for a community,” he said.

Coun. Ian Savage, who was a member of the committee that helped develop the plan in 2014, said he’s just as supportive of the plan today as he was back then. He said the plan has been widely supported by the community over the years.

“I think it represents a broad input from the community and I fully support it,” he said.

The improvement plan was is not only “very well” designed but was created by a “dedicated group of volunteers” according to Coun. Karen Proctor, who told councillors the plan has “some excellent” ideas.

Coun. Will Geselbracht also said he’s really excited to see the plan finally move forward and particularly likes the proposed streetscape and road re-alignment designs. He said with all the recommendations around traffic-calming streetscaping along Lantzville Road, people will one day be able to “feel safe once again” walking around the village.

As a result of council’s decision to endorse the plan, district staff will begin applying to the Island Coastal Economic Trust for downtown revitalization grants, according to a staff report. The district would have been ineligible for grants from ICE-T had councillors rejected the plan. Councillors also approved allocating $100,000 into a newly created Village Core Improvement Reserve Fund late last year.







nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
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