Dan Appell — October 11, 2010
One of the key components of the draft plan for the Newcastle+Brechin Hill Community is a recommendation that residential zoning be changed to accommodate a population that far exceeds all projections for growth.
The zoning recommended would allow for a population of between 12,000 and 20,000 people. If we use the cities own projections (8% every five years) that population range won’t be achieved until we approach the next century. There is considerable margin of error here, and we are assuming unlimited economic and natural resources are available to support this population growth.
We must ask ourselves: Why are we planning for such a large population? And why are we projecting such a plan so far into the future?
I image, one argument would be to insure the infrastructure is in place to accommodate these numbers of people when they arrive. We wouldn’t design a bridge based on present traffic loads, we would build a bridge based on projections of traffic loads 10, 20, 30 years into the future. In the case of Newcastle+Brechin Hill we must plan for an extreme eventuality.
However, our population projections suggest that we would not have to make any significant response to this increased population for, at least another 30 to 50 years. It’s not like these people are going to show up all at once. If 9000 to 17,000 people did show up all at once, we wouldn’t have the resources to execute this plan anyway. We are not building a bridge. There is no reason to believe that infrastructure capacity cannot continue to be increased incrementally to accommodate the relatively slow and incremental increase in population. So, the question remains: Why plan for such a large increase in population?
Another argument might be that the city plans to increase the population in this area at a rate faster the rest of the city. Currently, the city is growing by 8% every five years. Newcastle+Brechin Hill is growing at a rate of about 2.1% every five years. This is using Stats Canada numbers which are updated every five years. For those of you who prefer to use annual growth rates; Nanaimo has an annual growth rate of about 1.5% (give or take), and Newcastle+Brechin Hill is growing annually at about .5% (give or take).
This would mean more people moving to Nanaimo would have to decide to live in these two neighbourhoods. Or people would have to move to this part of the city, leaving other parts of the city empty. Either way, this represents a very significant restructuring of the whole city. This would require some very draconian, undemocratic, measures to achieve. Again, there is no evidence to suggest that this scenario is desired, possible or otherwise likely.
The question remains: Why plan for such a large increase in population?
The third argument is a simple; “why not?” A plan for 20,000 people would be just as good for a population of 10,000 people. Why not plan for a huge population when it would suit a smaller population just as well?
This argument is not supported by experience. The amenities available to a population of 20,000 people are very different then the amenities available to a population of 10,000 people (assuming, of course, that the distribution of wealth is the same). A plan for 20,000 people has little or no relevance to a population of 10,000 people. For example, if a person wanted to locate a corner grocery store in a neighbourhood, the choice of location would be dependent in large part on the size of the neighbourhood. And if the population that was needed to support a corner grocery store would not be available for another 100 years, then only a fool would locate a grocery store in such a neighbourhood. This is a relevant example because on a map in the draft plan for Newcastle+Brechin Hill there are located three corner grocery stores.
Typically, what happens when we plan for an over estimation of growth, the plan quickly becomes irrelevent. Its like making a financial plan based on winning the lottery. Planning becomes a waste of taxpayer’s money. And because all the tools for coordinating the development and improvement of the community are handed over to developers, these plans actually achieve less then nothing for the community.
Again; the draft plan for Newcastle+Brechin HIll is for a community that might exist in 80 to 120 years: Why?
Could anyone give me even a “guesstimate” of the current population of Newcastle+Brechin Hill?
According to the last census (2006) the population was 3185. That represented an increase of 75 people since the 2001 census. The next census is next year so a guestimate might put us over 3200 and below 3300.
Plan or wishful thinking?
The plan for Cable bay is/was for another 6500 people.
The plan for Sandstone is similar.
There seems to be more plans than people to fill the expectations.
Sadly the taxpayer will be asked to provide for these “plans”
Yes planning is becoming a waste of money (though it should not)
The OCP & UCB have become buzz words no better than green plan ; to mention just one.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but I grew up in Southern Ontario where many cities like mine, Barrie, were about to experience dramatic and sudden population growth. Barrie went from about 18,000 people to something approaching a quarter of a million in a relatively short period. Every planning decision — the good ones and the bad ones — had to cope with this pressure and do it pretty quickly.
At the core of a lot of the thinking here in Nanaimo coming from Council and the Planning Department is that we have to plan now for large increases in population which are just around the corner. I moved here about 20 years ago at the tail end of a spike in population. In the subsequent years the population has grown very slowly and is now I think less than 10,000 people more than it was then.
It has been well documented that the OCP has long recognized that within what was the urban containment boundary this city of population densities lower than Surrey’s could easily and efficiently incorporate population growth of an additional 30-50,000 people.
The continent wide economic tidal wave that was about to hit Barrie was quite rightly anticipated. The municipal infrastructure wasn’t put in place because it might happen one day. It was unstoppable. What tidal wave is headed our way? Happily it looks like there isn’t one and we should make the best of it. Let’s start designing and planning for the people who are here now and are asked to pay the bill.
Anything to be learned from what the big cities are doing?
Amazing. New York understands me.
First we’ll take Manhattan, them we’ll take Berl… uh, Nanaimo….
If you want a change in the planners,and the planning process,then it is necessary to change Council.Unless and until this takes place, Kenning and his crew will continue doing exactly what they please.As an aside,I just came back from New York yesterday and one should not point to the U.S.as an example of good government as their system is becoming more disfunctional with every passing day.The housing foreclosure situation is a disaster and this is just one example of their failed system.Placing a few tables on the street at Time Square is not too helpful.
The question is are we interested in building a city that is truly beautiful and truly liveable…as we would like to believe. What will be our slogan after this style of development along the waterfront? The plan the city is proposing serves the developers while undermining the very attraction to being here. Of course there is a tax initiative here, too. However, since taxes are $5,000/ year at the new Vancouver Ave condos, who needs to put something on the waterfront to accomplish that? And the views from Terminal would be astonishingly more fabulous than on the waterfront itself. Does anyone on council, or do any developers, care about as many people as possible having access to the beauty of the waterfront from near or far? It makes SO much sense to put any higher rises at Terminal on top of the hill. This keeps the whole area attractive, the properties desirable (all of them), while making room for growth. It’s not rocket science. It is so obvious. (Stupidity should be painful) Just once I would love to experience a mindful approach to development that really considers quality of life and beauty above the dollar. Just once. Let this be it.
Holly,could I suggest that it is virtually impossible to make the city beautiful.Yes,the harbour and the islands dividing the entrances,and Newcastle channel are terrific assets.But the City itself is not a pretty place.The laissez-faire attitude of Council and Staff towards such eyesores as the abandoned gas stations that are so abundant,the failure to make any positive effort to redevelop Terminal Ave.,the unsightly conditions along Northfield Rd. and of course the utter disgrace of the condition of the bus depot.These are but 4 examples and there are so many more.I believe that current and past City Councils are responsible by failing to give direction to senior staff on eliminating the eyesores,and certainly Jerry Berry was not interested.And now the current senior staff are following the same path because by not doing anything or taking any initiative,their work is much easier.Why try to tidy up the City when nobody cares?
I would also mention the atrocious signage that is everywhere.Signs on top of signs,while the City routinely allows variances for just about any new structure and ‘grandfathering’ other eyesores.So I have to take issue that placing a few highrises anywhere will make the City attractive.A beautiful city will take 25+ years to happen and the clock won’t start on this until Nanaimo gets a Council and Staff that want it.