Nanaimo councillor pitches parking lot for hotel site

NANAIMO – Coun. Bill Bestwick suggests Gordon Street lot be used for RV, bus parking.

A Gordon Street lot could go from proposed luxury hotel to parking lot.

Coun. Bill Bestwick wants council to look at turning 100 Gordon St. into a pay parking lot for tourist buses and RVs as the municipality prepares to buy the property from hotel developer SSS Manhao.

City council elected last month to purchase the former 21-storey conference centre hotel site for more than $500,000 after the development company refused the city’s terms for an extension to get a building permit.

The property will transfer back into the city’s hands Aug. 24, and while its future hasn’t yet been decided, Bestwick wants to see staff look into the options and costs to remove the fencing and signage for the proposed hotel, as well as turn the area into a temporary pay parking lot for large vehicles.

It would be a return to an old use of the site, which had been parking prior to construction of the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

“It’s rather unsightly and I think that we can put that piece of dirt to better use for the general public,” said Bestwick, who believes the changed use for the property could be a revenue generator, nicer visually and provide a benefit to campers, trucks and buses.

Mayor Bill McKay told the News Bulletin he’s been approached by Protection Island residents who want an inexpensive parking lot for their use and that’s something to consider. He has no issue with a parking lot on a temporary basis as long as the city can pay for it, but he doesn’t want to invest too much in the property if the city is going to put it back on the market.

“If there’s some revenue to be derived off of it on an interim basis without a lot of capital investment in it, I’d probably be OK with that,” he said. “At least we’re seeing some revenue off it.”

McKay also hopes to address the question of what should happen with the conference centre, which could affect the future use of the Gordon Street site.

The parking lot motion is anticipated to go before council next Monday (Aug. 17).

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