A move to officially name more of the Greater Nanaimo Water District lands as park is great news, says Mark Perdue, Nanaimo Mountain Bike Club’s landowner liaison.
“People are using it as a park, parks are important and this is a good area for a park, so I think it’s a good decision,” said Perdue, who also said a challenge is there aren’t a lot of places people can legitimately ride and recreate without worrying if the land is private or not and this will be great for residents, for livability, to know they can go and enter the trail areas and have fun.
Council kick-started efforts to turn the northernmost portion of the GNWD lands, adjacent to Colliery Dam Park, into greenspace last month and moved to preserve the majority of the rest of the property this week. There will be about 97 hectares added to Nanaimo’s park system.
The City of Nanaimo has been seeking feedback on the future use of the water district lands since last year with another open house planned for the property south of the parkway. The city had proposed it become a mix of park and rural resource that could be considered for potential development or model forests in the future.
Coun. Diane Brennan, who opposed designating the area as park, said the community was told a month ago it would be consulted about what the property might look like and council is now substituting its own ideas without the benefit of consulting with the people. That troubles her, she said, adding she has no hesitation in believing the response from the community would be to have park, but wants a conversation.
“I’d suggest that after consultation, that’s the time to turn our mind to park designation,” she said.
Coun. Sheryl Armstrong was also interested in consultation before a vote, while Mayor Bill McKay said he couldn’t understand the hurry and asked what the “voracious appetite” is to get so much more parkland in Nanaimo and the city can’t afford to look after what it’s got.
Coun. Ian Thorpe agreed there needs to be an increased budget to maintain and enhance the facilities the city has and it should be a priority, but said it’s a discussion for another day and budget. It makes sense to add parkland, he doesn’t see any other viable use for the land and it’s worth protecting, he said.
The city will have Linley Valley and this one and Coun. Gord Fuller said it’s a “phenomenal asset to any community” to have parks of that size.
The city now has to do a park dedication bylaw and make changes to the official community plan and zoning bylaw.