Wellcox site preparation pegged at $1 million

NANAIMO – City plans to spent more than $1 million on the south industrial waterfront this year.

An old building and its leaning towers of pallets will be given the boot from the south industrial waterfront as the city paves the way for redevelopment.

The City of Nanaimo plans to spend more than $1 million this year on work needed to get its share of the south industrial waterfront prepped for future development, from removing the old pallet building at Island Pallet Solutions to performing an environmental site analysis.

While city officials haven’t adopted a long-term vision for the water’s edge yet, they are ready to clean up their land at the Wellcox yard and break down barriers to redevelopment, according to Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development.

The focus will be on areas of the city’s 10.8-hectare real estate currently free of right-of-ways, including the Gadd marine site that Island Ferries wants to lease for a terminal, which needs to be serviced for $125,000.

City Coun. Fred Pattje, who helped create a vision for the area with the South Downtown Waterfront Initiative Committee, said he has no problem putting money toward projects that help propel the waterfront initiative. But he said the challenge for council will be ensuring it doesn’t do anything now that could prevent things from happening on the waterfront later on.

“The waterfront, it’s the last urban frontier of Nanaimo and we’d bloody well [better] be doing it right,” he said of the need for a plan. “I think the first thing [this year’s investment] does is send a message that council is serious about the waterfront. That we do see this as an opportunity and that we want to get the ball rolling.”

The city’s property, which spans the Wellcox yard to the border of Snuneymuxw First Nation land, was bought for $3.4 million last year with aims of creating a transit hub. The waterfront initiative committee also envisions potential for an extended waterfront walkway, public spaces and housing. City council is expected to decide on the committee’s vision and its guiding principles in the next month, said Pattje.

This year the municipality will start work on the site by removing some activity, like the pallet yard, according to Lindsay. Waterfront work will hit an estimated $1.3 million, including $800,000 to remove the pallet building and an old dock. There will also be a $230,000 environmental site analysis, $67,000 master plan and $125,000 servicing for the Gadd marine site.