Wellcox Lands Soil Contamination and Taxes

At this Monday night’s Nanaimo council meeting there are some interesting topics on the agenda for the public to follow:

1) council meeting times—do they stay the same or change?
2) 2015 property taxes
3) Wellcox Lands soil contamination study
4) 614 Lambert Ave from 1 lot to 10 lots

Nanaimo residential property taxes over next 5 years


The taxes for 2015 have been reduced from 1.8% to 1%.  The suggested 2015 budget  items to cut are:

  • remove budget for 3 additional RCMP members · $326,000
  • reduce management consultant budget · $91,510
  • reduce staff training budget · $76, 490
  • reduce firefighters clothing budget · $25,000
  • increase aquatic centre fees · $75,000
  • eliminate parks recreation and environmental master plan · $75,000
  • reduce Linley Valley improvement project · $50,000
  • eliminate fire training reserve · $25,000

The total proposed budget cuts amount to $744,000.

If the fire hall on Hammond Bay Road goes ahead in 2015 then staffing costs will increase to $1 million per year.

Welllcox Lands
A detailed site investigation has been completed of the Wellcox Lands site contamination. A full presentaton will be given by the City’s real estate manager at the next council meeting.

Wellcox Lands Nanaimo
$200K in soil contamination studies planned for 2015 at Wellcox Lands Nanaimo

In March 2013, the City of Nanaimo purchased 26.7 acres (10.8 ha) of land at 1 Port Drive.

The area was originally filled in by the Vancouver Coal Mining Company. The coal mine stopped operation in 1953.  The land was sold to CP Rail who then developed the Wellcox  Yard for transportation and distribution of goods.

Seaspan Corporation occupies 15.5 acres, Island Corridor Foundation and Southern Rail occupy 2.53 acres.  The City terminated the lease to Island Pallet Solutions and demolished the buildings over the 1 acre site. Now the City has a tenative lease with Island Ferries for 2.35 acres. Also, 3  acres are set aside for a transportation hub.

Soil contamination
In 2009, a study was done by SNC Lavalin on the entire Wellcox Lands regarding the contamination hot spots. A budget of $210,000 has been set aside to continue soil testing and sampling groundwater for 2015.

Harewood Neighbourhood plan will gets some changes with the new subdivision at 614 Lambert Avenue. One lot is to be subdivided into ten small lots.  Many speakers have come to council before to express their concerns over small lot developments in Nanaimo with no provision made for boulevards or green spaces.

Update February 17, 2015: what happened at Nanaimo Council on Monday night:
Council and Committee of the Whole meetings will continue to be held on Monday nights. There was no motion to move the meetings to Thursdays during the day. Agendas for meetings are to be ready earlier at 12pm on Tuesday.

Vote on taxes is delayed until the next COW meeting. Councillors Kipp, Hong, Yoachim and Bestwick voted against the 1% tax increase this year as they wanted to see further tax cuts. The motion to pass the 1% tax increase failed as it was a tie vote 4 against and 4 supporting.

Councillor Kipp next put forward a motion for a 2% tax cut. This motion failed with a tie vote, 4 against and 4 supporting.

The Nanaimo Chamber representative gave a presentation to council and requested that they not raise commercial taxes from now until 2020.

In the City’s presentation to council on the Wellcox Lands it was mentioned site remediation could cost between $10 and $30 million to clean up the site depending on what was discovered. Council approved $210,000 for continued soil contamination studies.

Councillor Bestwick asked and received confirmation that a First Nations midden was found when the Island Pallet building and foundation was removed. Councillor Yoachim, a member of Snuneymuxw First Nation, made no comment regarding the discovery of the archaeological site.