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Campbell River resident labels downtown waterfront input process as biased

At least one Campbell River resident says community meetings on how the city’s downtown waterfront property should be used were biased.

Leona Adams, who attended public workshops on Nov. 12 and 14 hosted by Coriolis Consulting, said the consultants seemed to already have an idea of what would happen to the property.

“When questioned about the density in the final design not matching the public vision, the consultant said it was her very first assumption that the plan was to re-zone this property,” Adams wrote in a letter to city council. “Both these statements, witnessed by many people, show bias.”

The meetings, which were part of a charrette process, were held to gauge the public vision for a 9.5 acre waterfront property behind Target and across from Robert’s Reach. The property is made up of a 3.5 acre parcel owned by the city and two other parcels owned by the Campbell River Indian Band.

Adams said the consultants, which recommended the property be used for a mix of residential and retail services, seemed to already have their own vision before meeting with the public.

“If public use would be considered for the 3.5 acres, the consultant said she would not entertain something as extreme as just a park,” Adams said. “This leaves out the public who have that vision.”

According to the report from Coriolis, the consultants did do prior research before hosting the public sessions.

The project teams studied city plans, policies, and design guidelines for downtown including zoning bylaws, the city’s sustainable official community plan, master transportation plan, and a series of past urban design, land use market studies and outcomes from a series of pre-charrette open houses and efforts of the city’s Youth Action Committee.

The team also researched other downtown waterfront development projects with potential relevance to the Campbell River site and presented that information at the public sessions.

Participants in the two and a half day workshop were asked to use stickers indicating whether they agreed or disagreed with 24 different statements relating to the use of the site. The majority concluded that the site needs to include public amenity space and that it should have a pedestrian link to Robert Ostler Park and the downtown core. There was strong disagreement that the space be used for parking; that the parcel be sold to a private developer; that the site be used for a large box store; or that the property be used for industrial purposes.

On Feb. 18, city council directed city staff to come up with a draft of several guiding principles for waterfront properties to be incorporated into the city’s official community plan. Adams just hopes council takes into account what the public wants to see.

“In the interest of due diligence, please review all of the open house information and workshop designs in your final conclusion of the results of the 9.5 acre waterfront charrette process,” Adams wrote.

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