Nanaimo’s urban density problems

In an effort to stem urban sprawl, Nanaimo has made changes to the official community plan to allow for the increase of urban density levels in established residential neighbourhoods.

5477 Lost Lake Road is a recent example of increasing residential density levels in Nanaimo’s established neighbourhoods.  A single house is to be torn down on this .50 acre lot and replaced with 3 or 4 homes. The neighbours expressed concerns about:

  • change in the ambiance of the street
  • impact on property values
  • removal of large trees
  • no place for children to play
  • no setback for trees or vegetation
  • higher volumes of traffic
  • parking congestion

Additional issues arise because the City of Nanaimo has no bylaws concerning landscaping. As these smaller lots become filled with houses, garages, sheds and vehicles – there is a potential problem with water runoff and drainage.

Nanaimo has 47 shopping malls and plazas which are dominated by one level buildings that do not include residential living spaces above. The City of Nanaimo is encouraging the building of strip malls and yet these malls perpetuate urban sprawl. In other cities, the opposite is occurring: strip malls are being bulldozed and replaced by higher-density mixed-use developments with good transit connections.

A prime example is the current situation at Lynburn Estates in Departure Bay where Brooks Landing has acquired residential property and part of Highland Boulevard to expand and build a liquor/medical building.  Instead, the City of Nanaimo should require Brooks Landing to increase its own density rather than encroach onto Lynburn Estates.

The task of urban density has shifted onto Nanaimo’s older established neighbourhoods and now they must do all the heavy lifting. High density housing brings a need for public space and parkland. There are two groups trying to save urban forests in Nanaimo to make it a liveable city: Save Pioneer Forest and Save Linley Valley West.