Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Stealth waterfront park privatization underway in #Nanaimo

Nanaimo’s seawall parks and neighbourhoods are first rate and our best asset. Our City Hall has just passed an upzoning for a pie-in-the-sky “Hilton” hotel development on the waterfront and our City Hall is considering privatizing large portions of our waterfront Georgia Park.
This stealth privatization is being done on 3 fronts: 
• an outright “lease” turning parkland over to the developer for a loading zone area (semi’s and delivery vans servicing a 300+ room hotel, patio areas for hotel cafes and lounges and a “grand staircase” creating a flow from the hotel lobby directly down to the waterfront promenade).
• portraying the aggressive extension of its lobby into and onto our parkland by a “grand staircase” connecting to the harbour side promenade as a community benefit. “Connectivity” between Front Street through the hotel to the staircase. This staircase is to be included in lands under their control by a 60 year lease agreement.
• perhaps most objectionably of all, the agreement with Staff to apply the very modest Community Amenity Contribution created by the huge uplift in value created by City concessions to be spent only on areas immediately surrounding their property and in concert with their landscape architects.
Staff report to Council here
Up-zoning to 114.3 m height and FAR of 12 approved Sept 3 at a well attended public hearing, a large majority of delegates speaking against the height and massing application and the park give-away . Sale of land currently designated lane-way that runs the property perimeter on the north and east sides (which alternatively could have been added to this park area which has been overdue for a redesign for at least 15 years). If there was a strong evidence based argument on which the City made these decisions, I didn’t hear it expressed by Council, it wasn’t made by the proponent at the public hearing and I see no sign of it in the Staff report.
The park lease provision, if the idea itself isn’t pulled off the table now just weeks before the municipal election, will require a referendum. Opposition to the loss of control over parkland, especially a much-loved and popular waterfront park, is strong, broad and spreading.
More background and further thoughts here


2 comments:

Kim said...

The Covert Poverts will be making a lyrical statement about the City's stealth privatization of Georgia Park on Thursday, October 30, 3:30 pm at the park, where we will perform some polyphonic verse on the subject for all who want to come have a listen. Free, of course. Guerrilla poetry at its finest.

Sherry M said...

I'm a member of the You know you are from North Vancouver and the North and West Vancouver's facebook pages...Same problems over there...City and densification, and give aways to developers...I suspect it's endemic. Maybe British Columbians should for alliances and sue these people who would slice and dice our beautiful cities up