Residents are not in favour of Regional District of Nanaimo bylaws that aim to rezone Nanaimo Airport lands and support commercial usage.
Two airport-related bylaws are before the RDN, one seeking to amend the official community plan for RDN electoral area A, where the airport is situated, and one that would rezone sections of airport land. The bylaws seek to acknowledge current airport use, achieve consistency with the adopted Nanaimo Airport land-use plan and support commercial uses complementary to airport land near Trans-Canada Highway, said Courtney Simpson, senior RDN planner, during public consultation Wednesday.
Affected people voiced dissent at the hearing.
Mayta Ryn said any decision to open airport lands for further commercial-industrial development that is not directly related to the airport, is “dangerous and short-sighted.” An aquifer under the airport is a valuable water resource that should be protected, she said.
“Its relationship with Haslam Creek and the Nanaimo River means that it is important to anyone sourcing their water directly from the aquifer and/or both of the water courses…” said Ryn. “Any contamination of the aquifer from industrial activity is a grave danger for the community, the City of Nanaimo and [RDN]. At the very least, a wastewater treatment plant should be a prerequisite for any commercial/industrial development on the airport lands, not an expectation.”
South Wellington resident David Dunaway noted that the airport land is already subject to federal and provincial bylaws.
“The bylaw itself doesn’t create an airport land-use zone, the regional district itself has recognized that it doesn’t have the power or the authority to create an airport land-use zone, so it’s just obfuscation, semantics to try and justify a bylaw that nobody wants,” he said.
In an Oct. 22 letter to the RDN, Dave Devana, Nanaimo Airport president and CEO, said he has no issues with the bylaws, “as they clearly state ‘the RDN supports airport and airport-related use described in the Nanaimo Airport land-use plan and the Nanaimo Airport development design guidelines.’”
“The key is that the RDN is aligning its OCP and land use with the Nanaimo Airport’s land-use plan and guidelines, and the RDN recognizes that the Nanaimo Airport is regulated by the federal government (not the RDN) for airport and airport-related purposes,” Devana wrote.
The bylaws have received first and second readings and input from Wednesday’s hearing will be compiled in a staff report for the RDN board, said Simpson.
Third reading is expected at the RDN’s board meeting Dec. 8, said Vanessa Craig, RDN Gabriola director and hearing chairperson.
For more information, go to www.getinvolved.rdn.ca/airport/.