Sunday, March 24, 2013

From Background —
2004 Downtown Nanaimo Urban Design Plan

This 2004 Downtown Nanaimo Urban Design Plan was commission by the Friends of Plan Nanaimo. The FPN was an organized and effective, if ultimately unsuccessful political movement. It opposed the construction of the Vancouver Island Conference Centre and  was fundamentally opposed to towers in favour of low rise densification for the downtown. It also opposed the elimination of Nanaimo's Urban Containment Boundary. While it did lose all these battles it added badly needed opposition to a manipulative and flawed process. Population growth and economic development in the Downtown area are stagnant, the conference centre limps and bleeds quite badly. One FPN principal rode the momentum to a seat on Council but there's no evidence that he brought any of the FPN human scale development ideas with him. (It's as if Nanaimo thinks it can be the one city in North America to finally make the sprawl and mall model work) As effective as it was, it unfortunately burnt itself out and wasn't around to play an effective role  in opposing later equally retrogressive developments: a suburban style shopping centre in the heart of downtown, precincts redeveloped piecemeal without master planning, extremely expensive arterial road infrastructure that chases "congestion" from one place to the next, provincially funded social housing clumsily imposed on neighbourhoods without proper integration into the social fabric. The FPN commissioned Vancouver Architect Lewis Villegas to oversee the design charette and The Nanaimo Downtown Urban Design Plan document. Full report pdf available here.

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