Nanaimo can subdivide share of south industrial waterfront

NANAIMO – Environmental work has freed the City of Nanaimo to develop former industrial lands.

Contamination won’t lie in the way of subdivision on the City of Nanaimo’s share of south industrial waterfront.

More than $400,000 in environmental work at 1 Port Dr. has convinced the B.C. Ministry of Environment to allow the city to subdivide and develop along the south industrial waterfront.

Earlier this year the city found less contamination than expected on its lands, but there was a question of how deep it ran at the 2.8-hectare water lot where contamination in sediment samples was above the provincial standards. The ministry wouldn’t allow the city to subdivide anywhere on its property until there was a scope and handle on the complete package of issues there, according to Bill Corsan, the city’s manager of real estate, who says nothing is toxic, leaching or hurting anybody but there are metals in the sediment from past historical industrial activities.

A detailed risk assessment, completed this fall, shows as long as the public doesn’t harvest sea life from the water lot, there isn’t any risk, said Corsan.

“Now we are free to move forward with subdivision and development,” he said.

The city has been paving the way for redevelopment of the Wellcox yard since 2014. A previous city report showed environmental conditions of the site was considered a key step toward revitalization and to help with provincial government approvals.

The municipality also now has the draft results of an archaeological assessment, which was received simultaneously with the Snuneymuxw First Nation last week. It confirms that while most of the site was under water, there was a winter village on the property and future archaeological studies are needed as potential redevelopment moves ahead.

In 2016 the city will consult with the public on a vision for the waterfront as it develops the first master plan for the area, and will be working on a purchase of a right-of-way from Seaspan.