Selina Robinson, B.C.’s minister or municipal affairs and housing, was in Nanaimo on Monday morning to announce that three properties in Harewood will be developed with housing and community services. NICHOLAS PESCOD/The News Bulletin

Province announces partnerships to develop old Harewood School site

B.C. housing minister in Nanaimo to announce province is working with city, school district

The former site of Harewood School will be put to use by the province, city and school district.

Selina Robinson, B.C.’s minister or municipal affairs and housing, was in Nanaimo on Monday morning to announce that three properties in Harewood will be developed with housing and community services. The province will work with the City of Nanaimo and Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools on planning and public consultation.

No dollar figures or concrete plans were revealed, as Monday’s press conference was meant only to announce that an agreement has been signed for the three parties to identify opportunities for housing, recreation and educational facilities at 502 and 505 Howard Ave. and 564 Fifth St.

“By working together, we can develop a plan to develop these properties in a way that not only benefits the Harewood neighbourhood, but also the community as a whole,” said Robinson.

According to a B.C. government press release, priorities for the properties include new affordable rental housing, a learning alternative school program, integrated parks and recreation services and incorporation of other community services such as health care and child care.

Charlene McKay, school board chairwoman, told reporters that she is pleased that the school board was able to partner with both the province and the city. She said the initiative is the “first step” in revitalizing the area.

“Our vision is a space where everyone in our community [can] work, live, learn and play together,” she said.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog called the province’s announcement “wonderful” and a “great step” forward.

“We’re recognizing that bringing things together will actually create something that will be wonderfully meaningful for the people who will occupy this site and share facilities and promote communities,” he said.

Fielding questions from the media afterwards, Robinson said there will be an 18-month public consultation period to determine what development should be on the site.

“That’s the first step,” she said. “Once that is done and there are decisions made about how to best use this land to deliver for people, then we will have an idea of exactly what is going to happen.”

It’s unclear when public consultation will begin. It is also unclear as to how much the government expects to spend on the initiative as Robinson didn’t provide specifics on costs.

“Right now, it is about visioning,” she said. “That’s the exercise before us. We are signing an agreement to work together to bring forward to the community, an opportunity to identify and determine what is the best use of this space and once we have determined, once decisions are made, we’ll be able to put a plan together and report back to the community on what is going on.” 
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