Nanaimo seeks input on Wellcox land

NANAIMO – South Downtown Waterfront Initiative launched a website and event to get people involved in its new vision for the water's edge.

Nanaimo residents are being urged to share their vision of the south industrial waterfront during the city’s inaugural Harbour Fair.

The South Downtown Waterfront Initiative has launched a new public campaign to tap into residents’ hopes for a transformed industrial waterfront.

The committee, tasked by the City of Nanaimo to come up with long-term goals for the water’s edge, will host the Harbour Fair in October.

The event is aimed at giving people a chance to tour the industrial waterfront, meet landowners and share ideas for the city’s “last urban frontier.”

A new website was also recently created for the public to share their vision for area.

The land, spanning the Wellcox yard to the border of the Snuneymuxw First Nation, has “significant potential” for economic development, mixed-use housing and a new transportation hub, according to Dave Witty, chairman of the waterfront initiative committee.

But before committee members start to create their new guide for the future of the site, they want to hear from citizens on the ideas they believe are worth pursuing, he said.

“I think there is an appetite on the part of the public to give comment on the future of Nanaimo in a fuller sense – including this,” Witty said about the upcoming Harbour Fair.

“I urge people to please get involved … we are trying to do a process here that’s going to be respectful and helpful to all.”

The Harbour Fair launches Oct. 5 with tour buses taking people throughout the site, much of which has been barred to the public.

Witty said he suspects very few residents have been able to explore the site.

“[The exciting part of the fair is] people getting on the site and having a chance to put their feet on the ground and tour around and see how big it is … they will see quite a bit of it is underutilized,” Witty said.

The committee has an $80,000 budget to look at long-term goals and guiding principles for the entire south industrial waterfront – 10.8 hectares of which the City of Nanaimo now owns. The work is anticipated to wrap up next year.

Public consultation at the Harbour Fair happens between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. There will be food, prizes and information. For more details, please visit www.southdowntownwaterfront.ca.