The city has purchased a large piece of property to expand parkland in Linley Valley.
According to a city press release issued this morning, Nanaimo councillors, during an in camera meeting Monday, voted in favour of purchasing a 20.2-hectare piece of property located at 5260 Tanya Dr., for $3 million.
The announcement comes after Broadview Developments proposed constructing a 29.3-hectare residential subdivision on Tanya Drive and had submitted a rezoning application to the city for properties located at 5260, 5300 and 5280 Tanya Dr., last year.
Although Broadview Developments’ proposal featured amenities including trails, dedicated parkland and a wildlife corridor, it was met with significant opposition from residents, who raised concerns about the potential environmental impact. Last December, councillors voted unanimously to reject Broadview Developments proposal.
A group called Save Linley Valley’s Hidden Ridge created a petition calling on Nanaimo city councillors to reject the development, work with residents to develop a plan for Linley Valley and the surrounding neighbourhoods and add the Hidden Ridge property to Linley Valley-Cottle Lake Park.
Save Linley Valley’s Hidden Ridge members Vicki Adamson, Cynthia Spencer, Susan Juby and Brent Hargreaves told the News Bulletin they’re “overjoyed” and thrilled with the city’s decision to purchase the 5260 Tanya Dr. property.
“It just goes to show that a small group of people can make a big difference,” Adamson said, adding that there were many residents from across the city who contributed to the effort to protect the property from development.
Juby, who began organizing efforts to save the property after she noticed the development signs appear for the property, and put up sticky notes to notify residents about development plans, said she’s grateful that council listened to the community.
“[Development] would have been catastrophic for the park,” she said. “So this is the best possible outcome.”
Bill Corsan, the city’s deputy director of community development, said when the city was buying a number of other properties in the Linley Valley area in 2014, it had originally wanted to purchase the Tanya Drive property but failed to do so. He said following council’s decision to deny Broadview’s rezoning application, staff were requested to look into the purchase of the property.
“We were directed to work with the property owner to see if we could come to an arrangement to purchase it for park purposes and we have been working with the owner since February or March on this,” he said.
Corsan said the properties at 5300 and 5280 Tanya Dr., which were included in Broadview’s proposal, were not purchased by the city. He said those properties are currently zoned as urban reserve and would need to be rezoned in order for development.
“They are kind of limited as to what they can do with those properties at the moment,” he said, adding that council has not given staff direction on whether to pursue purchasing the two remaining Tanya Drive properties.
As a result of the purchase, Linley Valley Park will now be 184.2 hectares. Corsan said the property will officially be in the city’s hands on June 15.
“With this piece, now there is more of a chance to do some more engagement with the community and find out which trails need to be upgraded more, replanting and stuff like that,” he said. “That will be later this year.”