Green Thumb Park Proposal; Cadillac Fire Hall; BC Transit Beef

Some hot topics coming up at the next Council meeting on Monday, May 15th are:

  • Northfield Road and the Island Highway upgrade
  • RCMP operations report
  • Two new 6 storey buildings proposed for 91 Chapel Street
  • Four storey 60 unit building proposed for 5260 Dublin Way
  • Fewer parking stalls at 1805 Summerhill Place

At the May 8th COW (Committee Of the Whole) meeting there were some interesting presentations: an idea for a park at Green Thumb; a rail trail; a BC Transit Beef and a new $17 million fire hall which was approved by Council.

Green Thumb Park Proposal

The Green Thumb Nursery in North Nanaimo is selling for $23 million. Situated between the Island Highway, Hammond Bay Road and Uplands Road, it is the last large undeveloped tract of land in north Nanaimo—44 acres.

This would be an ideal space for a park.  Nearby, 20 storey high rises are slated to be built  behind Costco and Longwood Station.

Green Thumb – 44 acres a possible park at Hammond Bay and Uplands Road
Green Thumb Park Proposal

Fred Brooks, a professional landscape designer, came up with the an idea of a Central Park, Van Dusen Gardens or Beacon Hill type park.

Unfortunately, the Council’s reaction to the presentation was a collective of blank stares. Councillor Thorpe said Council needs to be careful with its money.

What Nanaimo could look like in the future with Green Thumb Park as a centerpiece

More and more people are moving to Nanaimo so smaller lots and big high rises will the the new norm. People will need a park to go to for mental health. Ghettos have no trees and no parks.

Large treed lots are being denuded to make way for high-density small lots. Trees are disappearing fast.

Remember the controversy about saving Neck Point? A lot of people questioned the idea of saving it at the time; now look how many people go there today.

$17 million Fire Hall approved

Last Monday, Council approved the proposal for a $17 million fire hall on Prideaux Street to replace Fire Hall #1. Included in this proposal is $125,000 worth of art.

Opposed were Mayor Mckay and Councollor Hong.
In favour were Councillors Thorpe, Yoachim, Brennan and Kipp.
Councillor Fuller was absent for the vote (because of a business conflict).

Council Discussion:

Bestwick: …What was the cost of the Chase River Fire Hall? $3 million?…We need 3,250 square feet for administration?…a total of 15,000 square feet in this new building…

Hong: …We need a command centre…RCMP is the next building to be re-built…fire, police, ambulance, …we are building a ‘Cadillac model’…$125,000 budget for public art in a fire station?! (Hong screams)…Public art people won’t see!…Public art in this building [SARC] people don’t see…Borrowing is cheap…paying for building over 40 years…we should not be using reserves…

Brennan: …Why do we need to have administration located at the fire hall? Will there be parking issues?..What about the fire hall in the north end? In 2009 we were going to have a fire hall on Hammond Bay Road?…

Mckay: I support a new building but we need to have all services in one building…[a command centre]…

Bestwick: Have we put all our 45-year-old buildings on a list?…What are our priorities?…public works needs a new building…Beban Park needs upgrades…Departure Bay Activity Centre needs replacing…There are more than 10 buildings that need replacing…

Hospital Parking and BC Transit Beef

A resident came to make a beef about the bus transit to the hospital and how it doesn’t meet up with peoples’ work schedules at the hospital. Here is some of what the delegation had to say:

“The first bus leaves from the downtown Nanaimo to the hospital at 6:55am when most people start their shift at 7am. It is useless! So I have to drive…lack of transit coordination… Same with the mall in the northend; the buses aren’t there when mall shifts end or start….The BC Ferry terminal is the same thing…the bus that connects to the ferry leaves empty…why isn’t the bus coordinated with the ferry?…”

Hong: BC Transit…gives us hours…we can only shuffle the schedule…problem is we don’t have enough hours…

Speaker: I am not asking for more hours…just coordinate the schedule with the hospital shifts….

Bestwick: …nothing has changed…we are building a parkade for the hospital…

Fuller: …transit sucks…find more people to complain…

Yoachim: …I am willing to bring this up for you at an RDN board meeting…

Kipp:$8.5 million we pay for BC transit every year…we have had transit reports…empty buses…bad system…you can walk to VIU faster than the bus…we have made a cash cow out of parking…$100 for student parking…empty bus syndrome…our town is linear…we are driving all over the place…soon Nanaimo to Comox will be one big strip mall…

Speaker: …just re-schedule the buses…the #30 that leaves Prideaux Street and goes to the hospital takes 12min and leaves at 6:55am, they don’t care that people are trying to get to work on time!…it is NOT about more hours…

Empty Bus Syndrome

Check out this article called Why Tactical Transit is the Next Big Thing. “Tactical Transit” has the ability to jump start virtuous cycles of increasing bus ridership by speeding up travel times, improving passenger experience and enhancing overall perceptions of riding the bus. Empty Bus Syndrome could be a thing of the past!

Rail Trail Proposal

A group spoke to Council about an idea to have a rail trail from Parksville to Courtenay, citing the deteriorating condition of the E&N rail bed. Their website is Fortvi.ca for more information.

The federal government gives a private company $200 million every year to operate the railway on Vancouver Island yet nothing is being done to maintain the tracks.

There are many areas around the world where trains are THE mode of transportation. Many seniors have mobility issues and would prefer a train system rather than beating off feral dogs and rabbits with their canes.

New building on Skinner

Two new six storey multi-family buildings are being proposed for 91 Chapel Street.  The proposal includes some live-work studios which could be marketed to young creative types.

Out of Order: SARC boardroom Audio System

The audio system at the City Hall building is terrible. If you have ever tried listening to a COW meeting there is a constant noise of paper shuffling, binder clicks and chronic coughing fits. Whenever someone speaks it sounds as though they’re talking through a vacuum tube.

At the last COW meeting the camera was at a very low angle at the back of the room so the view was obliterated every time someone passed by within inches of the camera. In the meantime it was not possible to see all the council members or have a good view of the delegations. Councillor Fuller looked like he had a blue lump on his shoulder and it turned out to be Councillor Kipp.

For a $14 million dollar ‘Cadillac’ building, the audio and visual equipment is ‘Pinto’-like. There will be no audio for a while according to the City so we will just have to fill in the blanks with some wild speculation. There is no date when the audio equipment will be fixed.