“OCP has no relevance to the building of the City?”
Comment received from NanaimoCityHall blog reader J. Olson. Posted here as it raises some very important questions about the redevelopment of Port Place Mall.
How do we make the process — the Mayor and City Councillors and the heads of the Planning Department — more responsive to the issues raised here and by architect Franc D’Amrosio who the City hired to prepare the Downtown Design Guidelines document? The plans have been in front of the Design Advisory Panel something like 5 times and have been returned each time with cosmetic changes. We miss this opportunity and it’s gone for who knows how many years. Who on Council (Fred Pattje?) will come forward and champion this for the residents of the central and south neighbourhoods?
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?
Some answers are needed. Here’s the exact wording from the Mayor/Ted Swabey’s memo:
“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.”
I’ll be forwarding this to Mayor&Council@nanaimo.ca cc’d to email@example.com and urge anyone interested in this to do the same. If it’s City policy that an interconnection road is needed at that location let’s put this redevelopment on hold until the expropriation process is complete.
Here’s the link:
Are we seriously proceeding with the establishment of a privately owned road in the heart of our city?
There is so much here that needs elaboration, but I only have time to touch on a few points, perhaps I will get a chance to delve deeper later:
First; the OCP is a really poor plan for this city. It is not a plan at all. It is a series of empty platitudes. It is meant to mean nothing, and it does mean nothing. Your best hope is that the OCP has no relevance to the building of this city, because it is a completely counter-productive document.
Second: Your making a real mountain out of a molehill with this road issue. There are lots of examples of private roads on private land used by the public. Country Club Mall has a road. North Town Centre Mall has a road that busses use. Woodgrove Mall has a whole lot of roads. Malls need roads. Also, lots of strata residential developments own roads that provide public access. With respect, the road should not be your biggest concern, yet you are dwelling on it to the determent of other more relevant design issues.
Third; phase one of this proposal is not much more then an extensive renovation. If the goal of the city is to “de-mall” that site, then phase one represents a baby step in the other direction. But, then I don’t believe, “de-malling” the site is an appropriate approach. The city has to do an entire re-think of its approach to retail development. Especially, critical is its approach to retail development in the downtown core. By re-think I mean radically change parking policing, reorganize the bus system, remove the conference centre and encourage low rise residential in the area, plan for a continuous loop of retail to allow efficient and enjoyable indoor and outdoor promenade shopping. If the downtown is to prosper and sustain itself, then the city has to do almost a complete 360 with regards to its planning policy. All of its present policies are harming rather then helping the situation.
Forth; phase two of this project is the real stinker. As urban design goes it is as bad as it gets. We can only hope that between now and final approval the city planning department, the community and the developer pour a considerable amount of effort into a major redesign. It doesn’t help that the city is without a positive vision for this site and the surrounding community. It doesn’t help that the many voices in the community are muddled and confused and dwelling on something as insignificant as a road. And it doesn’t help that the developer doesn’t seem to give a shit for this site, beyond the potential of meeting a very modest bottom line.
Redevelopment of this site represents a great opportunity for this community to grow, to become more productive, to improve the way we use a site that is one of the most spectacular in the city, in a city which has a wealth of spectacular sites. I would strongly urge everyone involved to start by dedicating your best effort to the plan for this site. This site deserves that.
Also, if you can get this site right, then, in all likely hood, you can get the conference centre site right. If these two sites can be made to work well in tandem, then downtown will be set to boom. The link between these two sites is more critical then most understand, and their importance for the rest of downtown is paramount. Get these two sites working together and all other issues related to development and growth downtown are easy to resolve. Quite naturally, everything else will start to fit into place. Its a big task, but it is worth it.
No one has tried to place where this issue sits in the hierarchy of major problems with the Port Place Mall redevelopment plans, Dan. You introduce the notion and you’re simply wrong about it. You may not be recognizing from a tactical viewpoint how vulnerable this element leaves the developer, the planning department and city council. It could well be its Achilles’s heel.
Let’s start with your equating driveways and shopping mall access and exits and ashphalt that gets you to your parking stall with what’s being sold here — by the developer, the planning department and the Mayor — as the “interconnection of Terminal Avenue and Front Street with a new access road” You won’t find one of those ever being called by the planners, the engineers, the developers or the politicians a “road”.
They are asking for your acquiescence in regards to a privately owned road and it’s important you don’t offer it up. The expropriation process required to align a connector road to the Gabriola Ferry — if in fact this is in the City’s long term planning, gives us probably the only opportunity to stop this project so it can undergo proper long term planning that incorporates at least some of the principles contained in the Downtown Design Guidelines.
If your objection to the road is simply to be an obstructionist, then I must disagree and I think your strategy will both harm and fail the process.
As far as I know, the city is not expropriating land for this road, nor is it obliged to do so.
All other public access to the Gabriola Ferry is to remain, so I don’t think the provincial government need be involved.
If there are specific objections to the road itself, then I would be more then willing to hear these arguments. If there are specific objections to the development as a whole, I would be glad to listen. But, I do not wish to be part of any stratagems, especially ones that would have me object to everything without proper analysis. If an idea has merit and serves the public then I tend to support it. If an idea has no merit, then I tend to object. Even though, I tend to find almost all recent development in this city objectionable, I am not inclined to object to every development.
In this case the road idea has merit, while the tower idea has none. As I understand the situation, these two items are not linked. Approval of phase 1 does not guarantee approval of phase 2. If I am wrong on this point please let me know.
First Capital Realty is in the business of redeveloping under-productive commercial space. You can search it on Google and learn all the properties in Canada they control. This talk about a public road, is a “red herring”. Basically, what,s happening is a road will replace the existing interior public corridors of Port Place. That way the owner/developer doesn’t have to heat, air condition, clean, maintain, abide by current safety by-laws, provide public washrooms, etc etc. This developer (First Capital Realty) has the foresight to realize there’s a lot of under utilization here that can be exploited.
The City of Nanaimo is not more clever than the developer in this case. Shamefully, the City is already sold on the panoramic appearance of the redevelopment, with its connecting road to the Gabriola Ferry. The silly DAP quibbles about set-backs, the style of benches, matching urban themes etc, etc while First Capital, knows they’ll get what they want, for a few bones thrown. Both Thrifty’s and London Drugs said they were not moving because “were just doing fine her, thanks and were not buying into this grand redevelopment notion’ With Thrifty’s and London Drugs staying put, the developer had to make space to relocate the Liquor Store, the Medical Arts Centre and the CIBC. They have a road to build – remember? So all the small retailers in the south end of the Mall were booted or relocated. The Post Office relocates on its own, further up Terminal Ave, after some disagreement with the developer which we will never know. Now the CIBC may be in a snit because the developer may have an agreement with the lot adjacent to Wendy’s for a TD Bank ! The Great Canadian Dollar Store is supposed to be harbored under the Convention Center, when the developer actually builds the space by July (good luck), so they can return to the new development. Yes, Port Place is being de-malled. And with it goes the heart and gathering place of downtown Nanaimo, while city officials concern themselves with the minutia of set-backs, colors, themes, etc So sad, yet so typical !
For those of you who can’t image quality retail development check out what they are building in Victoria.
This is been built to LEED gold standards. It includes 800,000 sq.ft. of retail shopping around a outdoor courtyard. It also has 200,000 sq.ft. of class A office space, 3000 parking stalls and 500 living units.
Notice the lack of towers. Also notice the green roofs, and the road running through it.
This should give you an idea of what is possible in mall design. I don’t expect First Capital to come close to producing something of this quality for Port Place Mall, but I do think that the city ought to be arguing for as close an approximation of this as possible. We might not reach this, but it is the direction we should be going in.
For those of you who think that Port Place is just wonderful as is, the flythrough might give your weak imaginations a glimmer of what it could be.
I was reading in the paper this morning a letter from someone trying to wax poetic about this mall. The writer seriously suggested that the building be designated a historic site. It is sad to think that someone can live a life so bereft of imagination and experience that they could consider a run-down, featureless and almost windowless box in the middle of a parking lot as something worth saving.
For those who arrive in Nanaimo from the boat basin, that mall cannot leave a good impression. It is completely uninspired, unimaginative, and an ignorant response to that site. It is very bad reflection on the people who live here.
Is the new design for the mall better than what is there now? Yes . . . by quite a bit. But that is largely because what is there now is so bad. I was as disappointed as anyone, by the residential tower and the poor way the residential component is integrated into the design, but we can still argue for those improvements. However, if we continue to argue against everything and anything, then we just come off looking like whining, ignorant hillbillies who don’t deserve any consideration what-so-ever.
Stop behaving like victims, and start doing something a little more constructive with that stuff between your ears.
Jery 14 June 2010 at 10pm, Jery, good detail and a useful contribution to this discussion.
“Yes, Port Place is being de-malled. And with it goes the heart and gathering place of downtown Nanaimo, while city officials concern themselves with the minutia of set-backs, colors, themes, etc So sad, yet so typical !”
I share your frustration but I think we should make a disctinction between the Design Advisory Panel and the folks you describe in a more general way as “city officials”.
We have to ask more of our Planning Department and the city politicians themselves ultimately responsible for decisions we’ll have to live with for decades.
I was wandering around the newly spruced up Terminal Park Mall today. For a real world real time look at what First Capital’s new “high street” will look like, it’s there.
I’m told phase 2, hideous tower and all, has been approved by PNAC. This should give you some idea of how useless the OCP is.
A clarification on a point in the Mr Swabey/Mayor Ruttan memo:
“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.”
This seems to be saying that the “new access road” required the satisfaction of “provincial access requirements”. The separate development permit application for 9 Nicol St for a slab commercial building with a right-in, right-out access, did require — and was originally denied — provincial Dept of Highways approval. But the “access road” does not. Can anyone clarify this further?
“Shopuptown” is hardly an example of what can happen in Nanaimo; it is 6 times the size of Port Place Mall and if built here would occupy the entire downtown core, which of course already has a street pattern! You don’t need to be an architect to figure this out.
I repeat; the issue is the loss of a significant indoor public space, a loss for the people from Protection Island, Gabriola Island, the university up the hill, central Nanaimo, downtown Nanaimo and the Snuneymuxw Nation. It is a lamentable proposition without compassion that seeks to turn this public space, the heart and soul of a community into a parking lot. It is a proposition that will change the pattern of use from pedestrian to auto. It is a proposition that will kill downtown businesses because once people see that it has become a strip mall they will get in their vehicle and drive, and they will keep on driving until they can find an indoor mall.
If you really think about it the enduring attraction of Port Place Mall is the social environment, you can get most of the goods for sale from just about anywhere. It has a good old corner store feel where people have faces and names, where a smile is for free and a chat is spontaneous. If this proposal proceeds you won’t be doing any of that in the parking lot on a cold rainy day in December, you won’t know anything about your neighbours Christmas shopping because the Grinch has taken all those possibilities away from you with a “renoviction” strategy of re-development. Welcome to a cold and heartless place. It doesn’t much matter what the architecture is if you can’t get the program right.