Friday, March 22, 2013

Nanaimo Council to be Asked
To Approve Concept Planning Process
For the South Downtown Waterfront

Details of the Planning Department report to Council on the Monday March 25 agenda: pdf here.

The Official Community Plan Implementation Strategy identified the need to undertake an Urban Nod13 Plan for Downtown Plan Study Area #2, which is the area commonly known as the Wellcox Yard and Assembly Wharf area south of Downtown, as a priority in the short term. 

More recently, the City has made an offer to purchase 26.7 acres from CP Rail which is the 
northern portion of the Wellcox Yard. That offer to purchase was made public in a press release issued on 2012-DEC-13. Staff is now seeking Council direction on moving forward with a land use planning process for 
the South Downtown Waterfront, which will include both the Wellcox Yard and Assembly Wharf lands. The plan area is defined as follows: 
• The southern boundary aligns with the Snuneymuxw First Nation (SFN). 
• The western boundary is along Esplanade and Front Street 
• The northern boundary includes the existing BC Ferries land and water lots (servicing 
Gabriela Island). 
• The eastern boundary is undefined but extends into Nanaimo Harbour within the Nanaimo 
Port Authority (NPA) jurisdiction. 

An illustration of the plan area, referred to as "Concept Plan Area", is contained in the attached 

Terms of Reference
This project is guided by several Council bylaws and strategic documents, noted in the "Related Documents" section below. In addition, the NPA, SFN, the Island Corridor Foundation, business operators, and others have shown interest in establishing a long term vision for the area. 

The next step would typically involve development of a Neighbourhood Plan (also referred to as an Area or Master Plan). In this case, staff is recommending an additional step in a multiphased planning program: the development of a high level Concept Plan. 
The Concept Planning process is recommended due to challenges related to planning in an 
area with multiple jurisdictions, as the City, SFN, NPA and Province each have authority and ownership over portions of the plan area. In order to harmonize land use and coordinate servicing and development, staff recommends a collaborative, non-regulatory, high level process. As this first phase is conceptual, it will not result in a Council bylaw. Instead, the intent is to establish a shared long term vision and guiding principles for various decision makers to take into account when considering planning, development and investment within their respective portion of the plan planning, development and investment within their respective portion of the plan area. 

For those areas where the City has jurisdiction, the next phase of the planning project could be development of Area/Master, Servicing and Infrastructure plans in 2014, subject to availability of resources and Council approval. 

Staff recommends Council consider approval of the attached Draft Terms of Reference, which lay out the Concept Planning process. 

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