New Bastion Street Bridge, E&N Trail, watershed woes

At the June 20th Nanaimo Council meeting there were two major presentations. The first one was from the Lantzville Mayor regarding the water agreement.  The second was from City staff on the proposed two kilometre trail downtown beside the E&N railroad tracks.

Other items on the agenda included $2 million repairs to the Bastion Street Bridge and a parking variance for Summerhill Place near the hospital.

Lantzville Water

The Mayor of Lantzville, Colin Haime, gave a presentation to Nanaimo Council requesting the following changes be made to the Nanaimo-Lantzville water agreement:

Section 6.6
change from ‘new development only’ to any households and existing

Section 14.1
a specific surcharge, rather than open ended

Section 6.2
an emergency water provision to include Snaw-naw-as

Mayor Haime also addressed concerns such as urban sprawl and the capacity of the watershed, adding that everyone is on water meters in Lantzville. He said user rates would be the same as Nanaimo, and the cost of the water treatment plant would be shared through connection fees.

Frosty welcome

Mayor Haime was given the cold shoulder by the Nanaimo Mayor and Council. This was in stark contrast to their effusive welcome to three visitors from Ghana who were given gifts on behalf of the City just moments before the Lantzville Mayor took the podium.

At the end of the Lantzville Mayor’s presentation the vote was called to accept the presentation. Councillor Kipp voted against receiving the presentation. Was this a first for Nanaimo Council?

There were no questions or comments and frowns all around. Councillor Yoachim was away. The CAO was not in attendance for Mayor Haime’s presentation, but was there for other parts of the meeting.

Kipp comes alive

The strange part happened at the end of the Council meeting when two delegations spoke about their concerns regarding the Lantzville water agreement. Oddly, there were comments from both Mayor McKay and Councillor Kipp, who prompted the speaker.

One delegation raised the question of our water security. What are we going to do about our watershed because we do not own it? He said the City would be in trouble if the watershed were to be purchased by outside interests.

The speaker also referred to a water report from 2013, what was being done about leaks in the pipes and Lantzville’s bulk water rate.

Bastion Street Bridge – repair or replace

Councillor Pratt originally brought forward a motion to have the Bastion Street Bridge repaired. The estimated cost of the repairs was $2 million. Council was going to vote to go ahead with the repairs but something happened.

Mayor McKay suggested why don’t they build a new bridge. He commented it would only cost about $5 million. He added that the current bridge was built in 1936.

Councillor Hong suggested that it would be better to fix the bridge because they had more urgent items to deal with such as some issues in the south end.

At question period a speaker asked did they know what happened in Victoria regarding the Johnson Street Bridge? The bridge was going to cost $60 million and now it is estimated to cost $150 million and it’s not finished yet. The speaker asked, can you really get a bridge built for $5 million?

In the end, Councillors voted to have staff do a report and find out how much it would cost to build a new Bastion Street Bridge. Councillor Pratt withdrew her motion to have the bridge repaired. She commented that she has been known to change her mind (as she shared a laugh with McKay).

E&N Trail – downtown

City staff presented a detailed plan for a 2km trail beside the E&N railway in the downtown area. This trail is budgeted to cost $7.2 million. The goal is to develop a 2km trail from downtown to 7th street by 2019.

The problem areas are between Franklyn & Pine; there is not much room on either side of the train tracks for a proper trail.  There are six at-grade railroad crossings which would cost $800,000 to $2 million.

The City doesn’t know what is happening with Southern Railway. Will there be a railway in the future? Council decided to hold off on the E&N trail project until it is known what is happening with the railway.

(The lack of progress on the railway issue caused Council to defer upgrades to the Northfield Road and the Island Highway because they don’t know if the railway is going to stay or go).

Hospital area parking – new building

A builder was at Council last week and was back again this week, appearing grim-faced stating he was not there to give a presentation but to answer their questions, if they had any.

Last week the City had turned down this builder because of concerns about the lack of parking for the new building at 1825 SummerHill Place off of Dufferin Crescent.

Staff originally recommended a parking ratio of 1.06 and requested that the developer add more parking. The City found that the first phase of the project (Summerhill I) increased on-street parking demand by 15 to 20 more cars.

The City suggested that the builder could reduce the parking from 161 spaces to 102 spaces. The builder came back with a new design and City staff recommended Council approve the revised plan, which they did.

Councillor Fuller raised the issue of Glen Oaks Drive and how builders keep coming to Council to fast-track their problems rather than going through City departments. Staff suggested that in this case it was different.