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Residents voice opposition to development of city’s downtown waterfront property

Campbell River residents are speaking out against designs aimed at guiding development on the city’s valuable waterfront property.

Most are opposed because they want the city’s 3.5 acres between Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre and the ferry terminal to be converted into public space and not developed for urban use.

Leona Adams pointed out that at public workshops on Nov. 12 and 14 of last year, the majority of people agreed they want the site to be converted for public use.

“Public opinion is for the 3.5 acres to not be urban or developed,” Adams wrote in a letter to city council. “Public opinion is for public land with a public facility such as an aquarium and teaching centre. A change for the 3.5 acres to include urban development in the OCP (official community plan) paves the way for a change in zoning, given the zoning bylaw must match the OCP.”

At council’s July 8 meeting, city staff put forward a list of changes to the city’s official community plan to act as guiding principles for waterfront development.

“These guidelines can be used to guide development activity, and assess development proposals when they come before council for consideration as development permit applications,” said Ross Blackwell, the city’s land use manager.

The guiding principles, which were recommended by consulting firm Coriolis Consulting are: connecting the property to the rest of the downtown core; emphasizing pedestrian priority over vehicles; consideration of public amenity space; consideration of residential and mixed use development with significant public park space; ensuring a First Nations identity; and having public views to the water.

City staff’s draft changes to the official community plan include designing waterfront development to fit in with the existing form and character and ensuring it is pedestrian-oriented.

With respect to views, the changes dictate that new development should enhance street end views towards Discovery Passage, enhance views of the urban waterfront from Discovery Passage, and contribute to the attractiveness for public streets and open spaces.

But resident Darlyne Shane reiterated Adams’ point of view that council should not even be considering development on the waterfront parcel.

“As council is well aware, the feedback from the open houses and the charrette have shown overwhelmingly that the public desires to maintain the 3.5 acre site zoned (as) public assembly or equivalent and that there be absolutely no development other than a public facility,” Shane wrote to council.

“Please keep this in mind during your OCP amendment deliberations.”

Resident Lynda Belter agreed.

“The citizens of Campbell River have argued and fought to keep this valuable waterfront property in the public domain for all of us to enjoy,” Belter wrote.

“Those views have not changed. I would suggest that it is time to take the bull by the horns and use some of these tax revenues to create the green space that would be enjoyed in particular by the permanent occupants of Berwick (the new seniors complex across the street), the temporary guests of the Comfort Inn (being built beside Berwick) and the citizens of Campbell River.”

Council, taking into account residents’ correspondence, has deferred city staff’s waterfront development guidelines to the city’s Advisory Planning and Environment Commission for consideration and advice before making any further decisions.

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