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

Finalists announced for Nanaimo Sport Achievement Awards

Winners will be honoured at an awards gala Friday, Feb. 22 at the Coast Bastion Hotel

Nanaimo Clippers beat league’s best team on trip

Clippers get past the Chilliwack Chiefs 2-1 as BCHL regular season winding down

Coldest Night of the Year walk supports people in Nanaimo experiencing homelessness

Island Crisis Care Society event takes place on Saturday, Feb. 23

Four Nanaimo athletes make Team B.C. for Canada Winter Games

Judo, synchronized swimming and boxing athletes qualify for games in Red Deer, Alta.

Buccaneers break a third-period tie to beat Generals

Nanaimo doubled up Oceanside 2-1 on Sunday in VIJHL action

Buccaneers break a third-period tie to beat Generals

Nanaimo doubled up Oceanside 2-1 on Sunday in VIJHL action

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

Atlantic Canada rock band Partner making Nanaimo debut this week

Polaris Prize-nominated band from Sackville, N.B. embarking on first West Coast tour

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

New round of consultations with Indigenous communities is coming

‘Violent’ B.C. man wanted on Canada-wide warrant

Prince George man with ties to Vernon sought by police

Homicide police investigate assault turned deadly in Surrey

60-year-old man died at hospital after assault

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

Deported B.C. man who came to Canada as a baby granted chance at return

Len Van Heest was deported to the Netherlands in 2017

Most Read