Nanaimo is about to lose a downtown waterfront park! How could this happen? It is happening because the new Hilton Hotel planned for Front Street needs more space. The hotel needs 60% of Georgia Park for a loading bay and patio.
You must make plans to attend the Thursday, September 4, 2014 Public Hearing, 7pm at VICC regarding rezoning of 10 and 28 Front Street. The future of Georgia Park is at stake.
Nanaimo Hilton Hotel
At the August 11, 2014 council meeting the rezoning bylaw to lease Georgia Park to the Hilton Hotel passed first and second reading. The bylaw was approved by the Mayor and four Councillors; only Councillor Pattje opposed.
The new Hilton is planned to be 35 storeys or approximately 114.3 meters. This is too large for the existing lot so they must use approximately 925 square meters of Georgia Park. The hotel plans for 59 parking stalls and will use a parking lot off-site for more parking space. Construction is expected to begin in 2016.
The developer, Mr. Koo of Insight Developments, has had a long history in Nanaimo with projects such as Longwood Station, Hawthorne Corner, Origin Retirement community, and soon Linley Valley Drive & Turner Road Plaza. This proposed new hotel on Front Street will get a 10 year property tax exemption just as the other proposed hotel behind the VICC.
Why is the builder not being asked to reduce the size of the hotel and not encroach on Georgia Park?
The developer states it will secure $1.187 million for park improvements but isn’t this for just for the benefit of the hotel and its guests?
Georgia Park—one of Nanaimo’s oldest parks
Georgia Park was dedicated as a public park in 1948. The land was donated by the Gyro Club and Native Sons of Nanaimo. For generations, people of Nanaimo have enjoyed this public park and its wonderful views of the Salish Sea and Coastal Mountains.
Upon visiting Georgia Park you will see this Squamish dugout canoe, a gift from the Snuneymuxw First Nations to the City of Nanaimo via Albert Wesley. The canoe was carved from a single giant red cedar in 1922 on the Squamish First Nation Reserve.
No busking on the waterfront
What will happen to the first nation carvers, artisans, and buskers that sit in front of Georgia Park? Will they be told “don’t disturb the hotel guests”? For example, the Pacifica residents have asked that buskers not use the area around ‘The Sails’ because the noise is too much. These highrises will create canyons that affect noise, wind, light, and views.
Ultimately, if this Hilton Hotel project is not modified then the City of Nanaimo will lose control of what happens to Georgia Park. This is an election year— email firstname.lastname@example.org and/or start a petition and help Nanaimo save Georgia Park.
What is the future vision for Nanaimo’s waterfront? Remember, back in 2013 when the harbour was to be sold to a developer for $9 million.
If 70,000 people from China are planning to come to the proposed Conference Centre Hotel down the street, how many are to come to the Hilton? Will there be enough space for everyone on the walkway or just those from the hotel? An urban planner comments on twitter:
Where will people go for that old 1950s motel experience? Chinese tourists may want to head up to Parksville and pay $150,000 to spend the night in an authentic ‘roadside’ motel. Maybe that’s where the real money is.