Heritage Hospital; Nanaimo Council Petitions; Student housing; Sale of Cats, Dogs, Rabbits

There will be a busy Nanaimo council meeting on Monday, August 14th with lots of interesting topics on the agenda such as:

  • the demolition of the old Nanaimo Hospital
  • new 220-bed student housing project in Harewood
  • infill on Hammond Bay Road
  • banning the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits at retail stores
  • new Nanaimo Port model
  • petition regarding conduct at Council

Old Nanaimo Hospital Demolition

Nanaimo Council will consider approving the application to tear down the Old Nanaimo Hospital building at 388 Machleary Street. The owner, Chartwell Retirement Residences of Mississauga, has moved residents to the new Malaspina Gardens Senior Residence at 100 Eleventh Street.  They are willing to save a lamp post and a cornerstone for historical reference but not the building.

Old Nanaimo Hospital building at 388 Machleary Street to be torn down

The Old Nanaimo Hospital building is on the City’s Community Heritage Register but doesn’t have protected status. It was built between 1925 and 1942 and is a good example of Classical Period Revival style architecture.

The hospital was designed by Alexander Henderson who, in partnership with George Grant, designed the Vancouver City Hospital in 1903. Also, Alexander Henderson designed the Freemason’s Ashlar Lodge on Commercial Street.

From 1968-1975 the building was used as the Malaspina College and then as the Malaspina Seniors Residence.

Student housing project on Harewood Road

At the corner of Harewood Road and Wakesiah Avenue there are plans for a 220-bed student housing project. Zoning would change from a single family residence to 8 fourplex buildings.  Last year the property owner Hai Yang Developments was denied permits because the density was too high for the area. The site is located across from Colliery Dams Park and the nearest bus is on Fifth Street which is .25km away.

Harewood Student housing project
Looks like the alley way will get more traffic

5670 Hammond Bay Road

There is a rezoning application to divide one lot into two lots. The lot next to it was one lot which was divided up into three lots. The City supports the infill housing plan for the neighbourhood.

Another in-fill project on Hammond Bay Road (1 lot into 2 lots)

Expansion of NRE

The NRE (Nanaimo Recycling Exchange) would like to expand into the lot north of their current site on Kenworth Road. The NRE receives free-for-service funding through the City and RDN. The cost of building sidewalks around the property is estimated at $400,000. The NRE is unable to pay for this and is requesting the City to have another option. The RDN has recently approved $300,000 for recycling.

Why can’t ALL recycling be picked up at the curb? The traffic congestion caused by people  going into the NRE is growing every year.

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange wants to expand to lot next door

Regulations on pet services and sales

The City of Nanaimo currently has no regulations regarding pet stores or animal daycares, kennels or groomers. The SPCA would like to see the City have some regulations regarding:

  • number of employees per pets managed
  • amount of space for animals
  • adequate training

The Canadian Kennel Club and Cat Fanciers Association do not permit breeders to sell  dogs or cats to pet stores. The SPCA concludes that dogs and cats sold in stores come from unregistered breeders from Canada and beyond.

Two options are proposed:

  1. Option A: ban the sale of puppies, kittens, and rabbits in pet stores
  2. Option B: no ban, implement regulations and bylaw enforcement

The SPCA is recommending option A whereas the pet stores want to see option B.

One problem with the sale of cats and rabbits is that there is no license required. Cats and rabbits roam neigbhourhoods and no one knows who they belong to. We have a struggling bird population that is in peril because of loss of habitat and feral cat over-populations and rabbits which ruin bird nesting sites.

New Nanaimo Port Model

A letter was sent to the City from SFN (Snuneymuxw First Nations) requesting a meeting to discuss an alternative to the Nanaimo Port Authority model. The new model would include SFN, City of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Marina Association and other industry users.

The SFN signed the Pre-Confederaton Treaty of 1854 and the agreement stated that the SFN would “carry on our fisheries as formerly.” However, over the last 150 years this has been a major challenge. The Nanaimo Harbour Commission was created in 1961 and the SFN was not engaged and the treaty was ignored.

The federal government sent a letter to SFN in May 2017 saying they have no interest in meeting. Prime Minister Trudeau was here the other week; it is unclear if they were able to have a meeting with him.

Two Petitions target Council Conflicts

A petition has been put forward that asks the Mayor, Council and CAO (Chief Administration Officer) to sign a code of conduct. The petition called “Tell Mayor and Council and CAO to put our community first” which asks for all parties to stop playing political games at taxpayers expense.

There is another petition that was started this week, “Call to Action to hold Nanaimo Council accountable for violence against Indigenous woman” which asks Council for an official apology and for the resignation of Mayor McKay.

It appears that the CAO and the Nanaimo Council are at an impasse. It’s time for the separation of Church and State in Nanaimo.

Colliery Dam Park battle not over; Nanaimo Street Entertainers; NRE closing

A split council meeting was held on Monday, July 24th. The first section dealt with a new motion from Councillor Kipp on expanding Colliery Dam Park.  Council voted to add two parcels of land to the Colliery Dams Park.

The second part of the meeting heard issues from Nanaimo’s street entertainers.  There is only one good spot to perform in town and the fight is on!

Correspondence was received from the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange about their shaky future.

Councillor Hong was absent for the first section and showed up for the second half. Councillors Brennan and Thorpe were absent. Councillor Kipp apologized twice for missing last week’s meeting. Councillor Fuller pulled a crisis management special by claiming his plan of ‘pissing people off’ succeeded.

Colliery Dams Park expands

First there were two speakers who spoke in favour of saving the GNWL and adding the land to the Colliery Dam Park.

Then came defeat of the old motion made last week. Everyone voted to defeat last week’s motion except Mayor McKay who supported the housing development below the Parkway.

Next, Councillor Kipp made a motion to add 801, 1150 and 1151 Nanaimo Lakes Road to the Colliery Dam Park. The area is already listed as Park and Open Space in the official community plan. There would need to be a bylaw put in place to dedicate the area as a park. Watch for this at an upcoming council meeting.

The land below the Parkway is listed as rural resource and can still be developed.  Why Councillor Kipp didn’t include this land to be saved as parkland in his motion is unclear.

Councillor Fuller gave notice that he would bring forward a motion at the next meeting to make the area below the Parkway as ‘Park and Open Space’. If it is listed as ‘Park and Open Space’ it can still be developed and is not fully protected as parkland.

Is Council hanging on to a faint hope that they will cut off a slice of land to develop into housing. Will they break the public’s patience?

Councillors Hong, Brennan and Thorpe were absent for the vote on the Colliery Dams park expansion.

Public Presentations

Here are some of the highlights of what the two delegates had to say:

Speaker 1:
Many people have signed petitions to save these lands for a future park (180 people signed the petition) There never was any suggestion that part of the area would be developed. Staff recommend the area be saved as park. The survey says the same.  Save the area as a park! This is a once in a life time opportunity; we are hoping this can be saved.

Kipp: …You want two areas to be saved as a park? (above and below the Parkway)…

Speaker:  … Yes…

Speaker 2:
Back in November 2010, staff was directed to look at creating a park in the GNWL. In July 2013 staff was asked to look at creating a park and in June 2017 the City made an announcement that they joined the  Douglas Fir Conservation habitat group.  Colliery Dams has Douglas Fir habitat and wetlands.

There have been surveys, petitions, and consultations – 90% want GNWL saved as a park. Why are people’s wishes ignored? The map of the area above the Parkway is divided up like a dog’s breakfast! This was not shown to the public.  The GNWL should be saved for future generations. There were 680 who signed an online petition to save the land as a park.

Council Discussion

Kipp: …hope we defeat the old motion…wildlife corridor…deer getting hit …a 20 year fight… zoning on parkland…affordable housing has a place…hold for a park…it can be developed later if people want because of the way it is zoned…

Yoachim: …my position has not changed…people have been through a lot with Colliery Dam…people have fought to save the area including some people at this table, including myself…we have the opportunity to save this gem…so let’s do it now…

Fuller: …no one came up to talk about saving the lands expect my brother…I don’t think a lot of people are paying attention…I want to piss people off and get them mad…and get them to look at this…I read the report and the survey report…on the survey it said that people supported development along Harewood Mines Road…that’s where the idea came …I’ve been talking to lots of people about selling the land at market value…get some money and put it into Colliery Park…we may want to create a park reserve fund…we do have a park fund but it only has $40,000 in it…It’s not going to pay for the upgrade to the parks that we want…if all of this becomes park we can still remove [parts] of it from the park…through the alternative approval…process… Linley Valley Park could be developed in the future…

McKay: … people are looking for affordable housing…people can’t find it…develop lots along 7th …simple family homes…

Bestwick: …parks and open space is a critical piece of our City…this is an unbelievable nature habitat…my position is unchanged…

The motion made last week to develop a section of the GNWL was defeated…

Mayor Mckay voted in favour of the old motion for the housing development.
Councillors Bestwick, Yoachim, Armstrong, Kipp, and Fuller, opposed.
Absent were Councillors Hong, Brennan, and Thorpe.

Councillor Kipp’s New Motion

Kipp gave a new motion to rezone lands north of the Parkway for park use. All voted in favour expect Mayor McKay.

Councillor Fuller’s New Motion

Fuller: …I thought Kipp’s motion was going to consider the whole area as park?….[Kipp’s motion only talks about the land above the highway] …I want another motion on the lands south of the highway…

Staff: ….lands south of the parkway are listed as rural resource lands…the lands north of the parkway are listed as Parks and Open Space…

Fuller: … properties are designated rural resources [south of the Parkway]…lands can be designated park and be taken out… I want input from SFN…I give notice of motion to make lands south of the Parkway as Parks and Open Space…

Yoachim: …this motion is on the fly…

More action will be coming up at a future council meeting on the Colliery Dam Park lands south of the Parkway. Will it be made parkland?

Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands & Collery Dam Park – land below Parkway not a park – yet (red line was area proposed for a housing development)

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange closing

The Nanaimo Recycling Exchange (NRE)on Kenworth Road may close down on March 31, 2018. The problem is the NRE is so successful it needs to expand but they don’t have the land or the money required. For the last five years the City of Nanaimo and the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) haven’t got involved. Guess why?

What does the City of Nanaimo and the RDN plan to do with all the garbage produced? The landfill in Cedar will be full soon. Is all the garbage going to be burned up in a new incinerator at Duke Point that looms on the horizon?

Why don’t we have a state of the art recycling facility? VIU could have a research lab that could come up with new products made from our waste. Recycling is big business. Nanaimo could break some new ground and be a zero waste city.

BUT:

Back on May 19, 2014 marked the official start date of the MMBC (Multi Material British Columbia) program in BC worth over $80 million. The BC government in its wisdom let the MMBC be the sole recycler for most of the province.

Unfortunately,  MMBC is not required to report on any recycling data. Instead of BC communities getting the profits from recycling, those profits are going to the corporations running the MMBC program.

Where does that leave Nanaimo? Is the MMBC taking over? How much will it cost and will the taxpayer be hung to dry again?

Nanaimo Street Entertainment Crisis

Two speakers came to speak to council about the Nanaimo street entertainment crisis. The problem is there is only one good place to perform and make any money!

Here are some of the highlights of what they had to say:

Speaker 1:

I am not allowed to use a microphone and people can’t hear me when I am performing down on the waterfront. We need to revisit the 1998 busker bylaw. It is not working. We are being treated like panhandlers and we are not.   A location was removed from outside  Serious Coffee on Commercial Street. I was singled out in an email by the City not to be invited to a busker consultation meeting.

Fuller: … the original bylaw eliminated busking…it took 6 months to get buskers on the committee…agree we need to re-visit the  busking bylaw…

Speaker 2:
Street entertainers are important to Nanaimo and give a good first image of our town. There is a lack of bylaw officers to enforce the rules. People are playing on the street without a license and in non-official spots and for too long in one spot.  One problem is that there is no audition process.

There are a lack of spots to play on the harbour front. There used to be 6 spots to play and now there are only 3.  There once was a spot out side the ice cream shop on the waterfront and in front of the Lighthouse Bistro and the Pacfica Condos.

I am asking Council to bring back at least two of those spots.

The only real viable spot to make any money in all of Nanaimo is down in front of Trolls Fish and Chips but the competition is fierce so I would like to propose a $50 fee for that one spot only and the other spots at the regular fee of $25.

Yoachim: …would buskers be open to rotation?

Speaker: ….used to be the case but it had too many problems…every spot was open to play at and then a rotation …but people argued about time…they allowed people to preform two hours a day and they couldn’t come back for the rest of the day…any spot this applies…four or five years ….now there are performers who keep performing where they are not supposed to such as in front of the Lighthouse [Bistro]…I shouldn’t have to approach them – it’s the bylaw officers’ job…

Yoachim: …two hour window…enough time?…

Speaker: …used to be four hours…because of the lack of spots…two hours is enough…hard to busk for four hours…

Yoachim: …is it two hours all at once?

Speaker: Yes, all you get is two hours…

Hong: …would you like a schedule system?

Speaker: ….no…first come first serve gives more people more opportunity to busk…I won’t busk downtown or at Maffeo Park because there’s no traffic there…There is one spot that is safe…there is no safety downtown…there are no bylaw officers out there…

Hong: …if buskers are interested in time slotting…we have the ability to do it …we can promote buskers…a calendar…

Speaker: …need more spots to play…

Fuller: …I went to a meeting 5 years ago…and one person from the Pacifica Condo complained…and they pulled the spot…

Speaker: It was a great spot…

Fuller: …Maffeo Sutton could use some more busking spots…no people there…food trucks not working out there…

Mckay: ...Pacifica leases the land for $40,000 a year from the Nanaimo Port Authority [NPA]…time to revive the busker bylaw…some restaurants are hiring buskers to attract people…

Yoachim: …review and modernize busker bylaw..do they [NPA] pay for bylaw enforcement?

Mckay: …City agreed to pay for bylaw services and NPA agreed to allow busking

Yoachim: …no cost to the port…they should bring something to the table…

What will happen to the Nanaimo Street entertainers? Has anyone suggested that they can play inside some of the empty malls around Nanaimo?

Famous Nanaimo Street Entertainers

Many famous musicians have played as street entertainers in Nanaimo.

Kenton Dick, a young Nanaimo jazz musician, is the first Canadian to be awarded the Jimmy Lyons Scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston. The scholarship provides Dick with full tuition for four years worth approximately $240,000. This is a a very talented player to watch.

Willie Thrasher, who used to play in front of Pacifica Condos, was featured in Native North America (Vol. 1) which was nominated for best historical album at the 2016 Grammy Awards. Thrasher also recorded a full-length album commissioned by the CBC. That album, Spirit Child, was initially released as a five-song broadcast and was later issued commercially.

Question Period

There were lots of questions on Monday night:

  • Is Council aware that there was a lot of thought that went into how busking spots were selected?
  • How often does the bylaw patrol the harbourfront?
  • Why are you not reading the riot act at the being of the meetings anymore?
  • Has the City ever given out $50,000 fines for moving contaminated soil?
  • Does the City keep minutes of Western Neighbourhood Association meetings?
  • Is there an inventory of lands owned by the City?
  • My questions never get answered – Why?
  • Why is this the first time we hear about the idea to develop the GNWL lands?

Advice from Councillor Hong

“If you have any questions that you would like to be made part of the public record, send an email to mayorandcouncil@nanaimo.ca and ask that it be included in the ‘correspondence’ section of the council meeting agenda.”

Cinnabar Valley Park improvements; higher user fees; walking on the highway

Cinnabar Valley Neighbourhood Park upgrades will be discussed at the COW (Committee of the Whole) meeting on Monday, July 24th.

Proposed upgrades will include new playground equipment, a picnic shelter, pickle ball lines on the tennis court, a second basketball net and lines for basketball. Also, a picnic shelter, fencing, park notice board, water fountain and zip line have been requested. The City estimates their portion of the project to cost $18,000.

Cinnabar Valley Neighbourhood Park improvements planned

Money from the Parks Improvement Program are given out on a first come, first serve basis. People have to get together with their neighbours and prove to the City that the demographics warrant the improvements.

This can be a challenge in some neighbourhoods where people are transient and less community driven. Often in those areas the need is even greater for improvements. The way the system is set up lends itself to favouritism.

The City should do a checklist of all neighbourhood parks and identify equipment that needs fixing or upgrading, instead of waiting for residents to complain.

Some neighbourhoods have pocket parks which are sorely neglected. In order to get playground equipment, it is up to individuals to raise funds and install the equipment.

The City has set aside $36,000 in the budget for 2017 and $50,000 is expected to be allocated for local park improvements next year.

Nanaimo Council Expenses Q1

The expense report for Council was presented at the Finance and Audit Committee in June. The entire Council has a budget of $105,000 for the year and from January to March they have spent $20,500. Here is the breakdown:

$4,001 Bestwick
$2,887 Kipp
$2,803 Hong
$2,101 McKay
$1,843 Thorpe
$1,769 Yoachim
$1,621 Brennan
$1,576 Fuller

Councillor Bestwick had the most expenses with $3,593 in legal fees. Councillor Kipp also had almost $2,000 in legal fees. Overall the biggest expense category appears to be  conference trips.

Higher User Fees coming

At the same meeting a new user fee policy was presented and later approved. All user fees will have increases. This includes services such as police, fire, community services and building permits. This does not include water and sewer.

The idea is to increase permits and licenses fees and reduce property taxes. This may become a hardship for some people as they may not be able to afford to go to the swimming pool or skating rink in the future.

Transit Rate Hike

As of September there will be no more 70 minute paper transfers. Your bus fare will only be good for one way. So a trip to the grocery store and back will cost $6 or you can buy a daily bus pass for $5.

Watch for more people walking on the highway.

Colliery Dam Park revisited

The host of CHLY’s A Sense of Justice recently interviewed a member of the Colliery Dam Preservation Society. It was revealed that Councillor Kipp is planning to bring forward a motion regarding the Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands at next week’s COW meeting. Councillor Kipp was absent on July 10th when Council voted on whether to make the area a park.

Councillor Armstrong sworn in

On July 18th, Sheryl Armstrong was officially sworn in as Nanaimo’s newest councillor. You can watch the ceremony  below.

 

Bathtubs; Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands; Bicycle bylaws

Nanaimo had a summer time council meeting on Monday, July 10th packed with speakers and hot topics.  People came to speak about bathtubs, leasing city land and expanding Colliery Dam Park.

Councillors Kipp and Thorpe were absent.

Greater Nanaimo Water District

City staff made a presentation and recommended expanding Colliery Dam Park but that idea was rejected by Council. Instead, Council voted to develop part of the area for  housing and as well, lease out land to Nanaimo Search and Rescue. Public consultation is being considered for September.

Public open houses were held in December 2016 and a survey from that consultation process revealed people in the area would like to have the land saved as a park.

The Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands (GNWD)is a total of 97 hectares or 251.6 acres and is zoned rural resource (AR1) except a portion of 1151 Nanaimo Lakes Road which is zoned community service (CS2). It is divided into 3 addresses:

  •  801 Nanaimo Lakes Road (13.7 acres)
  • 1150 Nanaimo Lakes Road (201.2 acres)
  • 1151 Nanaimo Lakes Road (36.7 acres)

The thick red line on the map below indicates the ‘Sliver’ of land the council voted to sell off for a housing development. Councillors Fuller, Brennan, Hong and Mayor Mckay voted in favour of the motion.  The GNWD buildings and land are to be leased to Nanaimo Search and Rescue. What will happen to the rest of the land?

Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands. Housing ‘sliver’ in red.

Nanaimo Search and Rescue new home

A presentation was made to council from the Nanaimo Search and Rescue (NSAR) asking that they be able to build a new building at the old GWND building site and lease the land from the City and maybe purchase the land down the road. Who knows?

Old Greater Nanaimo Water District buildings – site of new Nanaimo Search and Rescue

The Nanaimo Search and Rescue mentioned they need more members and equipment and a larger location. They work with RCMP and BC Ambulance to find lost seniors and hikers. They think the GNWD location is ideal for their new equipment and training.  Since 2015 the volunteer group has been searching to find a new property.

Colliery Dam Park Expansion?

A delegation requested that council consider expanding Colliery Dam park. They asked that the entire green space, above and below the parkway (243 acres), be given park status, saying it makes sense because the City already owns the land. It is close to downtown and one can find peace and quiet in the park with no car or city noises.

The Greater Nanaimo Water District lands has old growth trees south of the power lines. Granny falls is not protected. Red and blue listed species are found in the area including three species of rare frogs.

Other rare animals to be spotted in this area include martens and Townsend’s big-eared bats. The land has mature old growth Douglas Fir, arbutus, big leaf maple and wetlands. Rare plants in this area include Calypso orchids and chanterelle mushrooms.

Save the Rare Dam Critters – Martin, Red Legged Frog, Calypso Orchids, Granny Falls

First Nations archaeological site

Another delegation spoke about concerns the land should be saved as park because the Snuneymuxw First Nations (SFN) have an archaeological significant site in the area.

Council discussion:

Staff: …year long archaeological study has been done…significant site…asking section be made a park…

Hong: …east side of the trail…wouldn’t it make sense to put housing on that road…already across the street…easy to shave off a piece of land…don’t have to do anything, services are there…compared to other proposals that people are looking at…as opposed to Glen Garry Crescent…

Fuller: …use the sliver of land for housing below the parkway trail… you could get 40 houses in there…

Hong: …affordable housing…micro housing…adds to the value of the proposed small properties…easy parts should be carved off for housing…

Bestwick: …if we shaved off the sliver and make those city size lots…it would reduce the value of the area…I would prefer not to see 6 foot ceder fences and berms…we spent millions of dollars to preserve the dams…we have lots of infill opportunities to take advantage of…before we invade a park area…

McKay: …I worry about affordable housing…we have opportunities to develop these lands…we have a number of parks that need improvements for washrooms…

Brennan: …when talking about micro housing…we need to have them close to transit and services and people have to walk to shops…people in social housing use strollers…it is a big hike for them to shop at the University Village…urban sprawl…lots of infill opportunities…make it a park…

Yoachim: …green space addition makes sense…

Bestwick: …The DND lands next to VIU will be developed…We just signed on to the Douglas Fir Agreement…This is a Douglas Fir zone…What about the next generation?…Lots of places for houses…to compromise our parks…a great loss…

Fuller: …just that triangle….it will pay for things like washrooms…

Hong: …We have an opportunity to make them into lots and generate some money!..Why not buy Lotus Way?…Lotus Way is for sale… 92 acres let’s buy that….

Bestwick: …we just struck a deal to sell Gordon Street that will go towards buying property…there are other properties that we can sell…

How Council voted

There were three motions on the floor. The first motion was to make the GWRD lands a park. It was a tie vote 3 to 3, so the motion was defeated.

In favour: Councillors Bestwick, Brennan, Yoachim
Against: Councillors Fuller, Hong, and Mayor Mckay

The next motion was to lease out the lands for NSAR. All voted in favour.

Fuller’s Motion for housing development

After council defeated the motion to save the area for a future park, Councillor Fuller pieced together a motion to allow a housing development (area marked red in map above).  This motion passed 4 to 2.

In favour: Councillors Fuller, Hong, Brennan, and Mayor McKay
Against: Councillors Yoachim and Bestwick

Council discussion about Fuller’s motion:

Brennan: …OCP plan would have to be re-zoned?…

Staff: …in the OCP (Official Community Plan) the land was mapped out as a green space but it was never zoned as a park [shows as future parkland]

Yoachim: …sliver or not…not going to solve the housing issue…can’t believe we are willing to give up land already designated for parkland…other places for housing…disappointed…

Bestwick: …this is very similar to the land at Maffeo Sutton…we could have had two 20 storey towers there on the waterfront…the new street was for the two towers …because that land was not designated as park but as a road and parking lot…this is a reminder of that…what could have been…so driving across Pearson Bridge you could reach out and touch someone on a balcony in the new high rises…Parking would be a problem…everyone enjoys that NOW as a park…we have an opportunity you don’t get back when it’s gone…someone wants to make public washrooms a priority then make it [but no one has]. The DND lands are going to be completely developed in a few years that is 240 acres…

Fuller: …it’s just a sliver…I am up there every week…we could make some money on this…

Staff: …recommend go to the public with this in September…

Brennan: …staff is working on an affordable housing strategy…

Fuller: …I never mentioned this going for affordable housing (laughing) …

Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands – proposed land uses

The planning proposed for the Nanaimo Water District above the Parkway  shows area 1 through 5 as rural resource land and the green area as park and open space. Without proper zoning for park it is highly likely that none of this area will be saved for parkland unless local residents kick up a fight.

A petition has been set up requesting the City of Nanaimo preserve the city owned land at Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands (248 acres).

Mayor’s Report

At the in-camera meeting on June 19th, three new RCMP officers and two municipal positions were given funding approval for 2018 for $719,000.

The 15th annual Dragon Boat Festival happened last weekend with 72 teams from across BC and Alberta and USA taking part. Also, last weekend 17 bathtubs traveled from Nanaimo to English Bay in Vancouver— 10 completed the route.

Off Street Parking – bicycle bylaw

The City is working with three departments to come up with an off-street parking bylaw. They are also looking at having a bicycle parking bylaw. Right now the City doesn’t have any bicycle parking requirements. The City may consider having bike lockers both indoor and outdoor.

A traffic consultant was hired for $7,500 to review car parking stall dimensions. Parking stall widths could be reduced from 3.2m down to 2.6m. Parking has a huge impact on urban design and is seen as the largest barrier to getting higher density.

Multi-family developments require 1.66 spaces parking spaces. That rate is based on the number of bedrooms and location in the city.

Council discussion:

Hong: …what is designated as cash in lieu of parking?…
Staff: … developer could pay cash in lieu of parking spaces…looking at hubs like Woodgrove Mall…and Hospital area…
Hong: …asking to reduce the recommended parking stalls…how do we make money? …
Staff:money goes into communal parking spaces…rental properties generate less parking requirements than ownership properties…looking at different rates per area
McKay: …some rooming houses have five tenants and five cars…
Hong: …does this follow the DCC review?
Staff: …framework will be similar
Yoachim: …What about bike rentals?…An idea would be to offer a grant to people who use less parking…
Staff: …bike share programs can work…
McKay: …bikes can’t go on the walkway…when you get to Maffeo Sutton Park so you have to go out on to the highway and there is no bike lane there…consider bike lockers at Maffeo Sutton Park…

No mention was made of having a bylaw that would restrict people to only park on driveways. Some people park on their front lawns. Many small lots have no yards and are a parking lot.

Most malls in Nanaimo have nowhere to park bicycles. Every mall should have a place for parking bicycles.

Question Period

There were many people who waited until almost 11pm to ask questions. Here are some of them:

  1. Where is the user fee report? Not with agenda? (don’t know)
  2. What is the cost of the additional RCMP staffing? ($719,000 per year)
  3. Why were the extra RCMP staff hired? (Reasons classified)
  4. Where is the money coming from to pay for extra RCMP staff?
  5. Why was a real estate agent paid $23,000 commission on the sale of 100 Gordon Street?
  6. Why did the City pay $7,500 for a consultant re parking stall dimensions?
  7. How much money has Watt consulting received in 2016?
  8. What is the City doing to make it child friendly?

Nanaimo By-election results

A total of 7,390 ballots were cast in the June 2017 by-election . There were 10 voting stations on voting day. The lowest turnout was at Chase River where 293 ballots were cast and the highest turnout was at McGirr Elementary with 1,178 votes cast. Here is the final count:
Armstrong 3,611
Brunie 378
Burton 858
Cake 513
Cantelon 643
Routley 296
Saunders 48
Statham 239
Taylor-Middleton 141
Thompson 82
Whiteside 75

Property taxes are due in July. Taxes will increase for the next five years:

  • 2.1% 2018
  • 2.5% 2019
  • 2.4% 2020
  • 1.5% 2021
  • 1% 2022

Bath Tub Days in Nanaimo

Bathtub Days in Nanaimo July 21-22

Bell Tower removal; Save Five Acre Harewood Farm; 34 petitions

Coming up on Monday, July 10th Nanaimo Council will hold a regular council meeting and a fresh new councillor will join the team. Some topics for the evening include:

  • Old City Quarter Business Petition
  • Changes to the Financial plan
  • Sale of 100 Gordon Street $750,000 (tax free 10 years)
  • Demolition of bell tower at 34 Nicol Street
  • New ‘Pacific Station’ sign at 5200 Dublin Way
  • Off-street parking bylaw review
  • Relocation of Nanaimo Search and Rescue to Nanaimo Lakes Road

The City received 34 petitions in favour of forming the ‘Old City Quarter Business Improvement Area’ (OCQBIA). There are 62 properties in the area. Nanaimo council voted unanimously in favour of the annual grant of $41,593 for the next five years to the new OCQBIA on May 8, 2017.

Old City Quarter Business Improvement Area – yellow area between Franklin and Wentworth Streets

The idea is that the new OCQBIA group will make improvements and keep the area clean.

Spending Money

Money needs to be moved from operating and capital funds to pay for some of the new items council approved including:

  • $62,500 Rogers Hometown Hockey Event (total $349,000)
  • $40,774 for Old City Quarter Business Improvement Area
  • $30,000 for 580 Fitzwilliam Roof (total $269,886)
  • $150,000 Nanaimo by-election

Nanaimo By-election July 8th

Saturday, July 8th is the last day to vote in the Nanaimo by-election. The timing of this by-election before and after the first long weekend of the summer is terrible. Another dodgy decision was to have the only advance voting station at a church. Will the public ever learn how much was paid to the church for this service?

Here is a video of the Nanaimo By-election All Candidates Meeting and Debate held on June 27th. Eleven by-election candidates participated.

Update: Sheryl Armstrong elected

Sheryl Armstrong has won the Nanaimo by-election with a landslide of 3,611 votes out of a total 7,400 votes cast.

The turn out for this by-election was a record low compared to the 24,000 votes cast in the Events Centre referendum.  It has cost Nanaimo taxpayers $20 per vote.

What if people were paid $20 to get out and vote? Would that be considered a rigged election?!

Removal of bell tower at 34 Nicol

Firehall No.2 at 34 Nicol Street is a heritage building and a landmark built in 1893. It is a very good example of Victorian Italian architecture with a fortress-like crenelated roof-line. The large doors at the front lower level were designed for easy access for horses and equipment to enter and exit. The hose tower was built in 1914 to dry the fire hoses.

Nanaimo Fire hall No.2 at 34 Nicol Street built in 1893

There is a request to remove the grey bell tower structure below because it has been reported to leak.  It was added on in 1992 to replace the hose tower that once stood there.

Fire Hall today with 1992 bell tower on top – request to remove

Last Five Acre Harewood Farm circa 1888

Two people came to last week’s Nanaimo Council COW (Committee of the Whole) meeting and presented an idea to save the last five acre farm in Harewood. This farm dates back to 1888 when the Vancouver Coal Mining and Land Company started a planned agricultural community; the first of its kind in British Columbia. Five acre parcels were leased to coal miners on the condition that a portion of the land was used to produce food. Eventually Harewood became known as the breadbasket of Nanaimo.

They showed a three minute video titled “A historic farm for Nanaimo’s future at 933 Park Avenue” Here are some highlights from the video:

“The Five Acre Farm at 933 Park Avenue is one of the last intact pieces of the historic Harewood 5-Acre parcels.

For the last three years, two local non-profit organizations, Growing Opportunities and Nanaimo Foodshare have been working together to operate an organic demonstration farm using the property as an education centre, therapeutic space and source of local food.

The farm is ecologically significant. It includes a wetland and stream that is a tributary to the Chase River. It is also a significant green space in the neighborhood and has been identified as an open space in the Harewood Community plan and part of a network of green spaces centered around the stream.

This area is being rapidly developed with dense single and multiple family housing.  The time to implement this part of the Harewood community plan is now.

Harewoodians would like to see this historic farm purchased and held in trust by the community in perpetuity as an educational farm and community green space.

If you want to get involved in this project or want more more information, contact Growing Opportunities at growingopportunities@gmail.com or (250) 713-3374.

Linley Valley Hidden Ridge Petition; Carriage and Micro homes

Crowds lined up Thursday night for the Linley Valley Open House regarding a new housing development on Tanya Drive in north Nanaimo, just off Lost Lake Road.

A Victoria developer has applied to amend Nanaimo’s Official Community Plan, and remove 72 acres from the Urban Land Reserve. This forested and wetland habitat spans the north ridge of Linley Valley and borders Linley Valley-Cottle Lake Park.

The dark blue area shows shows the 72 acres to be developed.

72 acre Tanya Drive Development in Nanaimo in dark blue

The concept plan includes 190 new single-family homes, plus an unspecified number of multi-family homes at 5260, 5280 and 5300 Tanya Drive.

The developer has applied to:

  1. amend the Official Community Plan
  2. remove the land from the Urban Reserve
  3. have it rezoned for a steep slope subdivision

Below are the plans for the housing development. The red dot is Lost Lake.

190 homes proposed for the Tanya Drive Development in Nanaimo

Linley Valley Petition

A petition has been started asking that the City protect Hidden Ridge from development and add it to the existing Linley Valley-Cottle Lake Park.

see petition: https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-the-linley-valleys-hidden-ridge.html?sh=tAA7EyikIFe+H+2Ni7IsYkbhM4/Ja0LrA0tB2myZUMn1Mc8y2Yarrg==

There are concerns that this development would:

  1. Destroy an ecological gem and irreparably damage the ecosystem of the entire Linley Valley, which is home to many at risk species.
  2. Devastate sensitive wetlands and downstream water systems, which are critical habitat for migrating birds, beavers and many other plants and animals.
  3. Severely diminish the cultural and recreational value of the forest that Nanaimo has assembled to create the Linley Valley-Cottle Lake Park.
  4. Massively increase the daily traffic on Lost Lake Road.
  5. Dangerously increase the fire risk in this urban/forest interface which is outside the six-minute fire response area.
  6. Require expensive and extensive utility installation and service upgrades.

The red zone shows the area for development. It will cut off Lost Lake from the Linley Valley trail network.

Trail Network to be lost in the Tanya Drive Development

Below is a view of the proposed development area.

View of Linley Valley Tanya Drive Development area

Nanaimo by-election

Where do the 13 Nanaimo by-election candidates stand on this development in Linley Valley? One candidate has already jumped in with two feet.

Carriage homes and Micro homes

At the this week’s Nanaimo Council COW (Committee of the Whole) meeting Councillor Fuller brought forward a motion to review infill housing design guidelines for carriage and micro homes.

Council discussion:

Fuller: …Micro housing [tiny homes of 250 square feet] is getting popular…The last application for a carriage house was voted down…it would’ve been fine if was smaller…Why not have two micro homes instead of one? …A review of the guidelines for infill will allow us to get more affordable housing…

Hong: …I can’t support the last point…we can’t stop people from getting development permits…

Staff: …we wouldn’t stop people…they could bring applications forward anyway…

Bestwick: …consultation with neighbourhood associations…could be a burden for the applicant…

Fuller: …the redesign of the infill would be in consultation with the neighbourhood associations…new guidelines may reduce the number of applications…

Mckay: …so people would go to the neighbourhood associations first?…

Fuller: …we are going to try to redesign the whole small lot development infill guidelines…so we get feedback from the neighbourhood associations…what they want to see…infill impacts neighbourhoods…

Council voted unanimously in favour of Fuller’s motion.

Tiny Homes and Neighbourhood War Zones

In Vancouver a couple had a custom built tiny home and parked it in a friend’s backyard.  After several months, they were told they could not park there after a neighbour complained.

It all comes down to conflict with neighbours. Small lot developments with micro houses or mega houses with many multi-units leads to over crowding and complaints.

Is the City prepared to spend more money on policing and bylaw services to deal with infill housing issues? More people on smaller lots will result in more conflicts with neighbours. People will complain about parking, roaming cats, barking dogs, loud music, burning garbage in fire pits, stinking garbage left outside, marijuana smoke, loud vacuums and on and on…

Disagreements between homeowners can turn entire neighbourhoods into war zones. A good example is the infill that’s happening on Hammond Bay Road.