Mayor Ruttan’s reply to request to consult architect D’Ambrosio on Port Place plans
I want to acknowledge receipt of your email and request to retain Frank D’Ambrosio for a third-party review of the Port Place Mall redevelopment plan.
As you may or may not know, the redevelopment plan includes the following applications:
1.Rezoning to permit a high-rise residential tower (application received: 2009-Jun-02).
2.Development Permit to authorize the construction of a freestanding Commercial Rental Unit on 9 Nicol Street (application received: 2009-Jun-02).
3.Development Permit for the overall mall redevelopment plan (application received: 2009-Jun-02).
This is an extremely complex redevelopment plan, especially given the owner’s attempt to accommodate existing anchor tenants (i.e. Thrifty Foods, London Drugs) and the practicality of retaining significant on-site infrastructure, such as the above-ground parkade. The owner has made a concerted effort to balance the needs of the tenants and existing infrastructure against the City and provincial policies and regulations in the creation of the redevelopment plans.
Many trade-offs have been made by the owner to address elements of the City’s downtown Urban Design Plan and View Corridors policies, and to deal with provincial access requirements. In particular, the interconnection of Terminal Avenue and Front Street with a new access road has formed a fundamental starting point for the redevelopment plan and goes a long way to addressing the “de-malling” of the site.
The review of these applications has been underway for a considerable amount of time, with one application currently approved and all been considered by the City’s Design Panel on several occasions. I have been advised that both Staff and the Design Panel are recommending that Council approve the developments as proposed. It is my understanding that the overall development permit application and rezoning application will be ready for Council’s consideration in the near future. The rezoning application, in particular, will allow for input from the public, as part of the Public Hearing process. The construction of the Commercial Rental Unit on 9 Nicol Street can proceed to construction as soon as the owner would like to start.
We are extremely appreciative of the owner’s vision for the mall and their commitment to the City’s downtown redevelopment. I am confident that both Staff and Council’s Committee system have provided the necessary evaluation and adequate review process for this project.
I am not supportive of a third-party review at this time. The application has been through a full and proper technical review and it is time for Council to consider the merits of approving the application as presented. Thank you for your interest in this project and I would encourage you to keep involved as Council considers the owner’s request for rezoning and development permit approvals.John Ruttan M A Y O R ECS/hp Prospero: DP613/DP614 ec: Council Members Al Kenning, City Manager Douglas Holmes, Assistant City Manager and General Manager, Corporate Services Andy Laidlaw, General Manager, Community Services
I doubt very much that the Mayor authored this letter.It reads much as one would expect a response coming from staff.Why would the City not want to take advantage of the expertise available from Mr.D’Ambrosio,after all they hired him at considerable expense to study and report on the downtown? Possibly because Swabey doesn’t want any interference in his cozy relationship with the mall developer.And of course the Mayor is more a Staff puppet than he is a leader and visionary.
“In particular, the interconnection of Terminal Avenue and Front Street with a new access road has formed a fundamental starting point for the redevelopment plan and goes a long way to addressing the “de-malling” of the site.”
Clarification: readers may not realize that Mayor Ruttan is referring here to a privately owned road. Are privately owned roads good public policy?
The Mayor’s letter also states that “The review of these applications has been underway for a considerable amount of time.” While it appears the rezoning application was received in June, 2009, details of it are still not available on the City’s website.
E.Swabey wrote the letter (memo)-his initials are noted at the bottom.
Minutes of one of the Design Advisory Panel, referred to in the Mayor’s letter, in which the Panel expressed concerns and sent the plans back for revision:
Click to access DAP091126M.pdf
Ted Swabey has zero intention of listening to any suggestions by the public that would improve this development.Here’s what he says in his letter posted above:
“We are extremely appreciative of the owner’s vision for the mall and their commitment to the City’s downtown redevelopment.”
He also writes:
“The rezoning application,in particular,will allow input from the public,as part of the Public Hearing Process.”
Sounds like Mr.Swabey has already made up his mind.Yes of course he will have a public hearing,but only because it is a legal requirement.As far as listening to the general public at the meeting,that is not part of the plan.Swabey is quite a piece of work.At a meeting several months ago on the Cable Bay development he was seen running up to the developer at the back of the meeting room and having a short conversation.What was the result of this conversation? Well,as it turned out,the developer never spoke at this meeting nor did they answer questions from the public,likely because Swabey told him not to bother with the little people in attendance,ie:local residents and taxpayers.
That was O.K. by the Mayor because he also is not interested in hearing from the public,as evidenced by the rude and demeaning manner he so frequently displays when someone from the public asks a question he doesn’t like.
So,anyone thinking they may have some input in or get some questions answered during the public hearing on this development,you likely will be disappointed.What Ruttan and Swabey don’t understand is that the developer’s primary objective is to maximize the profit on their investment and not do anything that
may take something away from this objective,no matter what.Downtown redevelopment in the City of Nanaimo means nothing to the developers head office despite what Mr.Swabey would like us to think.
Am I to understand from the Mayor’s memo that it is a Provincial requirement to “interconnect Terminal Avenue and Front Street with an access road?”
• How is this Provincial requirement established?
• How do we know where to put roads and where not to put roads?
• Who decides these issues and how is the public consulted in these matters?
• Where is this Provincial requirement documented?
• Could we see a copy of the Provincial requirement?
• When was the Provincial requirement first established?
• How often is the Provincial requirement reviewed?
• Is the Provincial requirement co-ordinated with other provincial policy?
• How does the Provincial requirement relate to the over all road network?
• How is the Provincial requirement implemented on private lands?
• Does the Provincial requirement result in expropriation of land?
• Does the Provincial requirement result in subdivision of land and dedication of an access road?
• Does the Provincial requirement result in compensation to the private land owner?
• Who will own the new access road?
• Can structures be built over and under the new access road?
• Will City infrastructure be located in the new access road?
• Will the new access road have street trees, street lights, parking meters, benches and no loitering signs?
• Who will police the new access road?
• Will the City be responsible for maintaining the new access road?
• Who will name the new road? Will it be named by the Province?
Am I really to understand from the Mayor’s memo that a Provincial requirement has “formed a fundamental starting point” for the redevelopment plan for Port Place Mall?
• Does the Province know of the significant cultural and historical uses of this property for the past forty years?
• Does the Province know that its requirement will destroy the only in-door public space the downtown has ever known?
Am I to understand from the Mayor’s memo that it is acceptable to destroy public space, in favour of access roads?
Am I to understand that Nanaimo’s OCP has no relevance to the building of the City?