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Re-development plan for downtown Nanaimo property going to another public hearing

Property owner has withdrawn from facilitated talks with Snuneymuxw First Nation
A development application for the former Howard Johnson site at Terminal Avenue and Comox Road will go to its third public hearing following a vote by Nanaimo city council to rescind third reading of land-use discharge and re-zoning bylaws. (News Bulletin file photo)

The city is taking a step back with the re-zoning process for a major proposed development of the former Howard Johnson Harbourside Hotel site in downtown Nanaimo.

At a meeting Monday, March 18, city council voted to rescind third reading of the re-zoning bylaw for the property at the intersection of Terminal Avenue and Comox Road.

Strongitharm Consulting Ltd., on behalf of the land owners, is proposing a mixed-use development with eight buildings – including two highrises – totalling 760 residential units, plus a hotel and conference centre and more than 10,000 square feet of commercial space. The development application process for the site has been in limbo since Snuneymuxw First Nation expressed strong opposition to city council’s vote to proceed with re-zoning the site.

The application made it through public hearings in October 2022 and May 2023, but in July 2023, the city was advised that Snuneymuxw and property owner Oakwood Park Estates had entered into discussions facilitated by a province to “seek negotiated, mutually agreeable understandings … on issues associated with the re-zoning and proposed development,” noted a city staff report.

Jeremy Holm, director of planning and development, told councillors that while the city has not received notification from the province that the facilitated process has concluded, the city has received word from the property owner that it has withdrawn from that process and is asking council to consider adoption of the bylaws.

Holm said following the most recent public hearing, Snuneymuxw First Nation provided city staff with a submission regarding the specifics of the bylaws.

“As such, staff are recommending the third reading of the bylaws be rescinded, and if that were to happen, the bylaws would be re-scheduled to proceed to public hearing,” he said.

Council did not debate the topic and voted unanimously to rescind third reading of the land-use discharge and re-zoning bylaws and direct staff to schedule another public hearing, now set for April 18.

READ ALSO: Snuneymuxw registers opposition as huge downtown development gets through public hearing

Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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