It remains premature to say if a multiplex will be the centrepiece of some prime waterfront land the city recently acquired.
The South Downtown Waterfront initiative is a long-term planning process to hear ideas on how to use the Wellcox railway lands.
The city of Nanaimo bought the property from CP Rail for $3.4 million in March.
The land has long been eyed for a transportation hub, but a number of other ideas have been proposed, from a multi-use sports complex to residential and even agricultural uses.
A committee was recently struck to develop a vision for the 27-acre tract of industrial waterfront property downtown. "It's to identify alternative visions for the study area," said David Witty.
Witty is the South Downtown Waterfront Committee chairman.
Site Tours, workshops and a charrette - a planning process to actively involve stakeholders and/or the public in planning - are in the works.
"Some people might have ideas that are realistic, some may not, but you have to have the opportunity," Witty said.
The multiplex idea has surfaced more than once, but it's not necessarily the first choice of multiplex advocates.
"It would draw a lot of people to an event and it would benefit adjoining businesses," said Chuck Blanaru, former chairman of the advocacy group Coalition for Nanaimo Arenas.
"But I don't think it's that important. It's very low on the priority list."
The coalition was deactivated in 2008, when the high cost of the Vancouver Island Conference Centre caused public interest in a multiplex to cool.
But the idea has resurfaced lately, and city manager Ted Swabey said a multiplex facility - on the waterfront or elsewhere - would come with "a big impact" for city finances if the city decided to pursue the project alone.
"If it's built privately, there's less of an impact."
As to the city budget: "It's currently not listed in the strategic plan as a priority," he said.
Retired architect Roger Kemble said a multiplex belongs on Third Street, not the waterfront.
"If a multiplex was built there, parking would take up the land," Kemble said.
Information is available at www.southdowntownwaterfront.ca.
The next step is a Harbour Fair Oct. 5, 1-4 p.m. Participants will meet on Front Street, across from Port Place shopping centre.
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