Three Neighbourhood Associations appear at Council to urge more community consultation

Gord Fuller —  June 24 2010
The South End Community Association is going to be posting Nob Hill Neighbours Jacquie Howardson’s & my comments about our appearing at Council this week to speak to the lack of community involvement in the Port Place Mall redevelopment plans. They’re posted here below.

Also, The Nanaimo Old City Association, SECA & Nob Hill are jointly looking at having the developer give a presentation prior to the Public Hearing to rezone the property for a 26 story highrise.

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Three neighbourhood associations, I might add quite bravely, suggested to council last night that they felt they weren’t properly consulted prior to Port Place development permit approval coming to council. Several tacts were taken to get council to think outside the development box and be more inclusive. Gord Fuller of Seca spoke to the history of harbour park mall and the fact that the plans had changed so much since the original presentation months ago, no one was really clear on the scope of the development or what the changes were. I spoke to the importance of downtown development working within the context of old neighbourhoods and the knowledge that exists within those communities. Frank Murphy spoke to the process of the development permit process and read a statement from NOCA who agreed that neighbourhood consultation was a good thing and that it didn’t happen in this case.

Council did not agree with us, except for counselor Jim Kipp who felt that consultation with neighbourhoods was desirable and asked about the planning process in that regard. I don’t believe we had much of an impact on the rest of council. All approved the development permit Phase 1 and Phase 2 with very little discussion or questions to the developer. The 26 storey tower which is a rezoning issue was not addressed by any of us, as there will be public hearings on this later.

Jacquie Howardson

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It was interesting and hopefully council may take the unified efforts of the three Neighbouhood Associations, SECA, Nob Hill & NOCA, into account in the future.

One has to realize that First Capitol had no obligation to communicate with the Neighbourhoods as phase 1 & 2 are legitimate uses of the current zoning of the property. They did however have to communicate with the city and the design advisory panel which was a long process and their designs were rejected by the panel a number of times.

It is only when they move to phase three and rezone to allow for greater height that a public hearing will have to be held and then the public can speak, but even then it will be just to allowing for greater height and not design of the project. The goal I think was to get council to at least revisit the consultation process for the future and in that we may have been successful.

For three Neighbourhood Associations to coordinate and come together in less than a day is the truly phenominal asspect of the council meeting last night.

Gord Fuller

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