Downtown design guidelines

Hi Wayne — A couple of points re the Downtown Design Guidelines. Pg 35: Quennell Square behind City Hall. Large tracts owned by Province, School District, City and maybe some fed presence as well. A building with 40 units of “supportive” housing as part of the city and province’s homelessness initiative is slated to begin construction in the Wesley St extension south of Franklyn which is now really just a lane.The Franklyn Gym (city owned) sits on this block as does a trade school  in old School Dist buildings. The City is proceeding though without a master plan for this large inner city site that would be the envy of any small  city in Canada for its development potential.

Planners Tucker and Sabey attended an info meeting sponsored by FPN at the Kin Hut at Departure Bay during the 10 year Official Community Plan review and I asked them if eliminating the Urban Containment Boundary and allowing the sprawling developments across our greenfields in our southern extremity would be a “disincentive” to developing Quennell Square, the assembly wharf lands on the harbour and the Department of National Defense Lands immediately south of VIU. Tucker said: “This is the most compelling argument against approving these OCP amendments. This is what Council has to weigh, this is what they have to decide…”

Councillor Holdom when asked about his reasoning for supporting these “Surrey-style” developments said that I should understand it is not a “zero sum game”. Somehow, nevermind our experience with the destructive impact our malls and sprawling suberbs connected by highway networks in our north end had on our inner city over the last 25 years, there would be lots of development capital and vision to invest in the inner city as well as encroaching on Cedar and Cassidy.

The elimination of the UCB and Sandstone and Cable Bay at our extreme south end outside of what was our UCB, will canabalize development investment in our inner city for the next 25 years. Architect D’Ambrosio himself as Ron will attest told Council when giving his presentation that pretty design guideline drawings nothwithstanding, in his experience cities allowing large development of their exteriors don’t concurrently develop their inner city neighbourhoods.

My point being that the loss of the battle to save the UCB is devastating for downtown. FPN put up a really good fight but in the end lost that fight. Any analysis to determine the viability of the sites we’re talking about here would include future population growth, traffic patterns, commercial development, etc — these have all been predetermined by these sprawling developments across our southern greenfields (if you can refer to the landfill as a greenfield). Nanaimo may never absorb the capacity contained in these developments but best case scenario, if they can’t be stopped, prospects for the innovative development of these inner city sites are not realistic for probably 25 years.

It’s within this context that I’m puzzled by Jim Kipp’s support for including the Oceanview “Master Plan” in the OCP.


Feel free to pass this on to Jim if you want.