There were a number of presentations made to Nanaimo Council on Monday night from members of the public who had particular concerns about their neighbourhood.
There were two speakers who raised concerns about subdivisions of Departure Bay heritage lots. One resident spoke on behalf of the Departure Bay Neighbourhood Association and addressed the problems with the City’s subdivision approval process and how people feel shut out.
The problem started when 10 out of 20 of these very large lots, about 0.8 acres to 1.1 acres, were permitted to be subdivided into smaller lots.
In 1954 a residential development called Lynburn Estates was created in Departure Bay. A building scheme was placed on the entire development which stated that Lynburn Estates properties could not be used for commercial purposes and could not be subdivided. The building scheme was destroyed in an ugly court battle and basically the City stood by to watch the fight.
(Above, the map with blue dots indicates lots that can be subdivided into smaller lots, and the red dot represents an active permit for a subdivision at the corner of Lynburn Crescent and Sandringham Avenue.)
The City has approved 4 single family residences, and up to 2 duplexes where there currently is one single family home at the corner of Lynburn Crescent and Sandringham Avenue.
If the houses also contain a secondary suite, 12 dwelling units are possible. Considering the number of properties that can now be subdivided in a similar way the potential impact on the surrounding, established neighbourhood will be considerable. Overall it appears that there could be more than 40 single family residences and duplexes where there are currently now 10 residential homes.
The green gateway to Departure Bay provided by the large heritage residential lots along Departure Bay Road will be no more. Is this poor urban planning? Comparatively, would the City of Vancouver consider creating small lot subdivisions in Shaughnessy?
The big question is will Departure Bay residents stay and fight or pack up and move?
Home Based Bakery
It was painful to watch Council struggle for one hour with concerns raised by two residents regarding a proposed production bakery to be operated as a home based business in a residential area in the 5400 block area of Rutherford Road.
The residents brought forward a petition signed by 30 neighbours. It was clear that they had serious concerns on the topic. Yet no one seemed to know how to help the residents.
Several Councillors tried to offer some suggestions:
Councillor Hong suggested for the residents to contact VIHA or if the home based bakery was approved by the City, to call a bylaw officer if the neighbours saw any regulations broken.
Councillor Fuller suggested looking at the Home Based Business Bylaw and seeing if it needed to be re-worded. He was shot down by the Mayor who quipped how many reports he had been requesting of late. The City Manager appeared to concur with the Mayor on the large volume of reports requested by Councillor Fuller and maybe he should re-think his request. Looking stunned, Fuller shrugged his shoulders.
Councillor Thorpe couldn’t understand the residents’ concerns with traffic if the bakery wasn’t going to have retail sales.
Councillor Bestwick made several attempts to try to get something rolling and each time he seemed to be stonewalled by the City Manager who couldn’t seem to see a way around the problem. In total frustration Bestwick said, “we can’t do anything?”. Finally, Bestwick with the help of the Legislative Services Manager drafted a motion to address the issue of the home based business at that specific address and it was approved by all except the Mayor.
In addition to signing a code of conduct, did Mayor and Council and City executive staff also sign a policy regarding romance in the workplace? This could protect the City from emotional workplace tensions, as many have witnessed, as well as any future lawsuits.