There are three key public meetings coming soon as part of the city's push for a long-term approach to its south downtown waterfront area.
The city launched the South Downtown Waterfront Initiative this year in a bid to form a plan for the area, which includes the city's recently-purchased Wellcox rail yard lands, the Nanaimo Assembly Wharf and the cruise ship terminal. The group's committee, chaired by Vancouver Island University provost and academics vice-president David Witty.
Starting next month, there will be three back-to-back events to gather public input on how the waterfront area should be developed and used. A final report is expected for December.
On Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. there will be a presentation in the Shaw Auditorium from urban planner Larry Beasley, whom the waterfront website describes as "internationally renowned." The following night (Nov. 13), the group is hosting an interactive workshop event that will allow residents to discuss ideas for the waterfront with one another, although registration is required to attend.
The two events lead up to a 22-hour design charrette spanning Nov. 14-16 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
The intense planning session will be composed of about 40 people, including eight members of the public, according to the SDWI website.
Witty said the charrette will include Island Ferry Services Ltd., the business consortium proposing a foot passenger ferry service between downtown Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver. Witty said the business proposal should be considered as part of a larger set of ideas for the waterfront area. The city has identified the Wellcox rail yard as a potential spot for a regional transit exchange.
Witty, who himself boasts an extensive background in planning and urban issues, says determining what Nanaimo residents think should be done with the land is an important part of the process.
"As I've said throughout my career, the best thing that's happened to planning is public consultation," he said.
"The public are very astute and bringing in their perspective is enormously helpful," he added.
"They strengthen the product." However, city officials have said there are some barriers to development in the area for the short-term, including existing right-of-way rights for private parties in the area.
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