Rail yards don't come up for redevelopment in cities very often and inner city waterfront rail yards even less frequently.
In December, 2012 the City of Nanaimo finalized the purchase of a 26.7 acre portion of Canadian Pacific's waterfront rail yards. The area was excluded from the 2008 Downtown Urban Design Plan and Guidelines and piecemeal redevelopment of Port Place, a suburban-style shopping centre dominated by surface parking, immediately to the north has proceeded without a master plan for this area.
A downtown brownfield site like this holds great potential of course but a complex interconnected web of property ownership and covenanted access rights makes development of this particular site especially complicated.
There is an agreement in place with the Regional District to collaborate with them on a transit hub. The Snuneymuxw First Nation's reserve lands are to the immediate south and they hold both treaty rights and land purchase options which will directly effect the redevelopment of the site. The Island Corridor Foundation which owns the rail line and stations on south and central Vancouver Island holds land rights and rights of way as do other powerful players: Seaspan, the Port Authority, the Province of BC.
While City ownership of a large portion of the site holds the promise of a diverse, interconnected neighbourhood development over time, the rights of way held in perpetuity by Seaspan and the Island Corridor Foundation weren't resolved in the negotiations to purchase the property from CP. Without these resolved, it's hard to imagine the site being developed at all. Current use under these covenants includes truck and rail access to the harbour through the City lands.
On March 23, 2013 the City approved a Staff recommended Concept Planning Process for the South Downtown Waterfront. The study area includes not only the lands purchased by the City but also the Port Authority's assembly wharf and BC Ferries Gabriola Island ferry dock lands and related water lots, as well as land identified as "to be transferred to Snuneymuxw First Nation" and the remaining CP rail yards. 
Which brings us to the long term planning process led by VIU's Dr David Witty and the South Downtown Waterfront Committee. This process was tasked with "developing visions and opportunities for this complex and challenging property that extend 20 to 30 years into the future". And it's the work of this committee and its subsequent Vision and Guiding Principles document which is the focus of this website.

Avatar: Ralf Schmitzer

Frank Murphy
In 2004 my wife and I and our daughter who was then completing her Bachelor of Education studies here at Vancouver Island University moved from a North Nanaimo suburb to the downtown "Old City", an isolated pocket of walkable urbanism in an expanse of sprawl, malls and busy arterial roads.
At that time the City was preparing for its 10 Year Official Community Plan Review. The "review" in fact was the formalizing by the City of its intent to eliminate the Plan's Urban Containment Boundary and greenlight low density subdivisions and big box retail and a fantasy destination golf course resort across the previously protected greenfields across the southern extremity of the city. I decided then I should perhaps pay a little more attention to civic affairs.

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