Newcastle-Brechin Rubber hits the Road on Monday, April 4 at 4:30

Ron Bolin: April 1, 2011

At Council’s Finance and Policy Committee of the Whole (FPCOW) meeting on Monday, April 4, 2011, the major topic appears to be the Newcastle-Brechin Plan as regards its two contentious issues, building height on the waterfront and the density in Newcastle.  This meeting has been moved from its usual location at the City Hall Board room to the Shaw Auditorium at the conference centre. The time of the meeting however remains the same, i.e. 4:30pm, which is not conducive to broad citizen participation.

The Planning Department is bringing in two presenters from Vancouver to give presentations along with the two planners who have been involved in the plan long term:

“5. PRESENTATIONS:

(a)    Presentation from Mr. Lance Berelowitz, Urban Forum Associates, Vancouver, Paul Rollo, GP Rollo & Associates, Vancouver, Mr. Bruce Anderson, Manager of Community Planning and Ms. Deborah Jensen, Community Development Planner, Community Planning regarding the Newcastle + Brechin Neighbourhood Plan.”

Later on the agenda Council will be called upon to make a decision on these issues:

“9. STAFF REPORTS: (blue)

COMMUNITY SAFETY AND DEVELOPMENT:

(a) Draft Newcastle + Brechin Neighbourhood Plan

Staff’s Recommendation: That Council:

1. direct Staff to proceed with a selected option for building height along the waterfront within the  medium High Density Waterfront designation;

AND:

2. direct Staff to proceed with a selected option for neighbourhood residential densities along the west side of Stewart A venue; and,

AND:

3. direct Staff to revise the draft Newcastle + Brechin Neighbourhood Plan according to the selected options, and proceed with preparation of the necessary Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment bylaw for consideration of the Newcastle + Brechin Neighbourhood Plan at a regular meeting of Council.”

I do not believe that any of these recommendations adheres to the principles for the waterfront which are expressed in the currently operative OCP or zoning bylaws, and would suggest that this option, just as the always available, “none of the above” are open for discussion or adoption.

I have never been able to understand how we got into the position of having three recognized organizations involved in a single neighbourhood plan rather than demanding that those affected by the plan come together to create a single plan with which they all can live.  While recognizing that the site and situation components of the area create differing views of the problems, still, who is to mitigate those differences?  In this regard, I do not understand how the three groups involved can in any way be viewed as equal.  One claims some 325 members and had their most recent meeting within the last few weeks, one claims some 60 members and hasn’t met in the last two years, and the third has to my knowledge never been asked about their membership which is rumoured to be less than a dozen.

At the same time, the question of the Nanaimo waterfront and its significance to the city, as opposed to its significance to the neighbourhood, the area, or indeed to the land owners adjacent has not been seriously broached, except in the OCP and zoning bylaw as they currently stand.

This meeting and Council’s approach to it will be both interesting and important for the upcoming new rewrite of the zoning bylaw via which virtually all of the properties in Nanaimo will be impacted.

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