Harmac Pacific has been good for Nanaimo.
Nanaimo has been good to Harmac.
Harmac, one of this city's great success stories for many decades, and a genuine star with its successful employee-ownership structure under Nanaimo Forest Products Ltd. since 2008, represents roughly 300 well-paying jobs. The pulp mill is a true economic generator for Nanaimo, and its ripple effects are felt throughout the local business community, where they purchase goods and services.
Harmac's earnest request for a significant tax reduction, which cut their annual levy from $3.8 million to $1.4 million, helped the company get off the ground and remain profitable.
It appears Harmac now has an opportunity to reciprocate that generosity by lending a hand to one of their new neighbours.
Oceanview Golf Resort & Spa, owned by Cable Bay Lands Inc., is a proposed project that plans a world-class, 18-hole signature golf course, boutique hotel, and a total of 2,677 multi-density housing units comprised of single family residences, townhouses and condominiums.
It's an ambitious plan that Canadian Property Investments has been working on for the past seven years. They're anxious to get moving on their city approved project and rezoned 215-hectare property. The problem is, the owners have not been able to obtain residential road access to the land.
One of two best options is Phoenix Way, which also happens to be the main access road into Harmac. Most of the portion of Phoenix Way has regular vehicular traffic, but there is just more than a kilometre of road that needs Harmac's cooperation in order to complete the link.
To this point, Harmac has not been willing to accommodate the request, and recently laid out eight reasons why they don't want to grant public access to their lands.
Most of the objections seem simple enough to overcome. For example, Harmac has unlicensed dump trucks and bulldozers that frequently cross the Phoenix Way entrance to access its industrial landfill. License the vehicles then.
If the volume of industrial vehicles is heavy, then install a traffic light to regulate the flow.
Phoenix Way is close to hazardous compound storage used at Harmac. Port Alberni and Powell River have similar situations near residential areas, so why would that be a problem here?
Apparently Harmac doesn't see any benefit to its business by waiving the right of way on Phoenix Way. Wouldn't the overtures by Oceanview to pay for Harmac water and sewage treatment help their bottom line?
If Harmac is concerned that Oceanview residents would complain about Harmac and potentially lobby to have it shut down and threaten the jobs at the mill, that could hardly be a legitimate concern. Owners would already know Harmac is there and buy in with that knowledge, and realize that Harmac is grandfathered in.
The city could be facing a bit of a quandary, as it approved Oceanview/Cable Bay in the first place, but has thus far failed to provide adequate access to the property to allow the developer to do what they need to do. The city may have to consider expropriating the right of way in order to fulfill their implied promise.
The best-case scenario would be to have Harmac remember how the city has treated them, and work with both parties to dedicate the needed portion of road and allow Oceanview to proceed.
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