Nanaimo City Hall.

Nanaimo councillor says Port Drive ready for development

NANAIMO – Nanaimo city councillors talked about referendum results and next steps at an open meeting Monday.

Borrowing for a sports and entertainment centre on the south industrial waterfront has been nixed, but that land is ready for development, according to city Coun. Jim Kipp.

More than 80 per cent of voters rejected borrowing up to $80 million for an event centre in a referendum, prompting city council to discuss at Monday’s council meeting the land, next steps and whether the event centre will be revisited before the next election.

There was a record 35.3 per cent voter turnout in the election, with the highest numbers at the advanced polls and McGirr and Departure Bay elementary schools, the final results show.

Bestwick said he thought the vote had much to do with the conference centre, while Coun. Ian Thorpe said he thought it was a rushed process, largely due to the Western Hockey League, and that worked against it.

The project had been proposed for 1 Port Dr. which the city purchased in 2013 with plans for a transit hub. The South Downtown Waterfront Initiative came up with a community vision for the waterfront lands.

A master plan specifically for the city-owned site is still in the works, the city website shows.

The property is now ready for development with a cultural and archaeological report, geotechnical report, servicing plans and “transportation thoughts, according to Kipp, who hopes someone understands its potential. Coun. Gord Fuller said the city has one of the best relationships with the Snuneymuxw it’s had in years and will involve them, as well as neighbourhood associations, in discussions about the south downtown waterfront.

“Yes, it won’t have an event centre on it, but I’ll fight tooth and nail that it doesn’t have three acres of pavement on it either, transit hub be dammed,” Fuller said.

Coun. Bill Yoachim said it’s time to reconcile differences, come together as one and discuss best uses for those lands, which can’t stay the way they are.

Thorpe also doesn’t want to see the land remain as it is, calling it the last beautiful waterfront property and that they have to be careful moving forward with how it’ll be used. He wants to see the waterfront initiative ideas used as a starting place.

Thorpe said council has heard a definitive message, not just with the event centre, but the lack of trust in council’s ability to show good governance and good behavior, adding he hopes it’s a lesson taken to heart.

Thorpe also said he feels so much time has gone to the event centre project that other things have naturally been put on the back burner.

“I really look forward, as we move ahead, to hopefully hearing what the people of Nanaimo want to see us concentrate on, moving ahead with smaller projects and issues we can tackle at much lower prices, issues to do with safety and infrastructure,” he said.

Bestwick said he assumes council will recognize and acknowledge what the community has told them, pull up their “big boy pants” and take the criticism levied against them and him personally for the direction they chose to go and work toward something assumably the community told them it wants.

“Let’s move on together, let’s do something that’s good and grandiose and whatever the people in the community thinks this city needs,” he said.

As for the event centre, if a different model doesn’t come forward, Bestwick doesn’t think council will have conversations about one before the next civic election perhaps longer.

Yoachim said an events centre is not in his game plan for the next 18 months and he respects what citizens have said loud and clear.

Coun. Jerry Hong said if a private developer says it is going to build it wherever, it’s not over.

“Are we going to actively pursue taxpayers’ money at this point in time? No,” he said. “But it’s not over, if somebody comes forward with a plan that’s great and it’s not costing taxpayers and people like the idea, then it’s not over.”

A memorandum of understanding with the Western Hockey League has been terminated with the referendum precedent not being met, according to city manager Tracy Samra.

Just Posted

MULTIMEDIA: Fair weather, food and fun at VIEX in Nanaimo

A gallery of the second day of the Vancouver Island Exhibition at Beban Park in Nanaimo

Urban planner wants to join city council to help build Nanaimo

Tyler Brown held his campaign launch this week

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Former homeless camp ‘dump site’ being cleaned up along Millstone River

Nanaimo’s Jeff Callaghan has taken up the task of clearing trash from abandoned homeless camp

Discontent City plans another rally in response to threats

‘Emergency rally’ at Nanaimo homeless camp slated for Sunday, Aug. 19

VIDEO: Fires break out in scrap piles at Harmac mill

Nanaimo firefighters got blazes under control in early morning hours Saturday

RCMP looking for missing Duncan teen

Dallas Macleod, 18, was last seen on Aug. 10

Two hurt in car wreck at Northfield intersection

NANAIMO – Honda and Volkswagen crash at 10 p.m. Friday on old Island Highway

Nanaimo’s VIEX country fair underway

Vancouver Island Exhibition happening Aug. 17-19 at Beban Park

Vehicle catches fire on Rutherford Road

NANAIMO – No one hurt in incident, which happened at 2:30 p.m. Friday

VI Raiders score comeback victory against Langley Rams

Nanaimo team erases 31-7 deficit to beat Langley Rams 35-34

Evacuation order issued in Island village due to “risk of falling debris”

Fire continues to threaten town’s only access road

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Most Read