More culture sought at Newcastle Island

NANAIMO – Open house gave residents a chance to provide ideas for popular provincial marine park.

More cultural experiences and a cultural centre are amongst ideas for a business plan being developed for Newcastle Island.

The City of Nanaimo, Snuneymuxw First Nation and B.C. Parks signed an agreement in 2013, providing terms of reference. Snuneymuxw hosted an open house Saturday at Maffeo Sutton Park to present the vision thus far and gather input and ideas for the island. One of the proposed sites for the centre was an area at Maffeo Sutton.

“The portion of land at the corner of Comox and Cliff streets is designated First Nations land … it is zoned for a multiple of uses and that’s one of the opportunity areas that they’re looking at in conjunction with this plan,” said Kirsty MacDonald, City of Nanaimo parks and open space planner.

Transportation was also mentioned and some attendees had issues with the $9 fare for the ferry that shuttles to and from Newcastle. Trish Malfair, Newcastle Island coordinator for Snuneymuxw, said it could be something examined.

“Like many things, there’s always got to be re-visitation to what an effective actual rate would be,” said Malfair.

The cultural experiences were something Malfair would like to see developed.

“As a coordinator, I’d like to see, as we’ve been visiting in the plan, a lot more experiential activities for the people. People want to do paddleboarding and all these kinds of things,” said Malfair. “Things that can help people become aware of the First Nation culture.”

A timeline has not been set for when the business plan will be released, according to Rhonda Eager of David Nairne and Associates, the consulting firm facilitating the plan.

“We are looking at finishing up the draft over the next two or three months. I’m not sure about the publishing date, though,” said Eager.

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