An artist rendition of a new library in the draft Chemainus revitalization plan

Revite plan gets nod

Chemainus' revitalization plan passes at special meeting held Oct. 8.

Chemainus’ new library and visitor centre will open at Waterwheel Park, while a skatepark wheels into space near St. Joseph’s school.

Or at least that’s the plan North Cowichan council passed for Mural Town’s revitalization October 8.

Councillor Dave Haywood was the lone objector in the 6-1 vote at a special council meeting attended by about 200 folks at the town’s high school.

“We got a unanimous recommendation from the Chemainus Advisory Committee to adopt the Chemainus Revitalization Plan concept plan,” a stoked mayor Tom Walker said.

The sweeping scheme links many ideas into one vision.

It also potentially revamps Chemainus Road’s benchlands, owned by Island Timberlands; renovates the old fire hall into commercial and housing use; adds roundabouts at River Road, and at the Chemainus Theatre; anchors seawalk work below the hospital; upgrades Kin Park and more.

“It’s all pieces budgeted for, but all uncoordinated,” Walker said.

Core restoration support was also lopsided.

“At least 60 per cent of people endorsed the plan, 40 per cent had concerns with certain parts,” Walker said.

“One hot button was location of the new library, and so-called parking lot concerns,” he said of no curbs and no step-up sidewalks planned for the public lot hosting markets, music and more.

The Vancouver Island Library board will build the new book building.

“The majority said ‘Get on with it,’” Walker noted.

Johanna Reymerink didn’t.

Chemainus Museum’s president said her members will now expand their facility at Waterwheel, but they wanted the new library built on the old fire hall site to preserve parking at Waterwheel.

“We’ll just go ahead with our expansion independent of the library, beautify it and let council do the rest of the lot as they see fit,” she said.

“We can’t afford to lose parking and those two murals (facing Waterwheel’s lot).”

Walker saw no tax hikes for the fire hall development, or the new library in council’s five-year plan.

“Now we have a plan for the whole town that’s accepted by the public and council,” he said of renewed leverage for provincial dollars.

“With [the] approval, it looks like Island Timberlands is keen too,” he said of benchlands development talks.

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