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