Vision for Harewood takes shape

NANAIMO – A new vision for the Harewood community is outlined in a draft neighbourhood plan.

A new vision for the Harewood community is outlined in a draft neighbourhood plan.

The plan, which went before council for first and second reading Monday July 8, is the culmination of a five-phase process spanning about 15 months.

It is intended as a guide for future policy decisions, including new development, redevelopment, open space acquisitions and environmental considerations.

Chris Sholberg, the city’s community/heritage planner, said there was a lot of community engagement throughout the process of developing the plan, as well as strong support for the final product.

“The neighbourhood has a strong image of itself, there’s a sense of pride in the neighbourhood,” he said.

The plan includes several areas of importance for the future of the area that residents identified throughout the process, including enhanced protection for watercourses and green spaces, greater opportunities for biking and walking, developing a new Harewood Village as the focus of local commercial and community activity, and development of a strategy to increase the neighbourhood’s economic health and promote its image as a great place both to live and to invest.

Sholberg said one of the biggest desires residents expressed was to enhance and retain some of the green spaces in the area and the idea of connectivity came up.

He said a higher number of people get around by foot or bicycle in Harewood than elsewhere in the city and improving the experience, facilities and safety of these modes of transportation is in the plan.

The Harewood Village vision is about creating a main street on Fifth Street from Bruce Avenue to Wakesiah Avenue that includes more multi-family housing and commercial developments, said Sholberg.

Residents also expressed concerns about how outsiders perceive the area – some people who live in other areas of the city view Harewood as a poor neighbourhood with issues with security and nefarious activities, he said.

As a result, improving the image of Harewood is an element of the plan, as well as improving the economic health of the area, including exploring the feasibility of a development incentive plan in the Harewood Village area.

Staff will schedule another public hearing next fall to gather more feedback on the draft plan and then the plan will go to council for final adoption, said Sholberg.

About 12,000 people live in Harewood in slightly fewer than 5,000 residences.

The neighbourhood has a rich coal mining and farming history.

For more information about the plan, please go to www.nanaimo.ca/goto/harewood.