Former Nanaimo hotel rezoning passes public hearing despite First Nation opposition

Former Nanaimo hotel rezoning passes public hearing despite First Nation opposition

A large planned development for downtown Nanaimo has been given the green light for a third time but it still faces First Nation opposition.

The former Howard Johnson hotel passed through its third public hearing Thursday but the Snuneymuxw First Nation is raising new concerns while arguing it still has others that haven’t been addressed.

With each passing year, the former Howard Johnson hotel becomes more of an eyesore. The three-hectare property and the building have fallen into further disrepair with vandalism and in recent months, police training exercises that involved explosives.

“It will be nice to see something done to the property. It’s an eyesore. It’s dangerous. The neighbourhood is concerned of course with what goes on there,” said Sherry Smart, a neighbour.

Neighbours say new housing is also needed but they would like to see the developer get the Snuneymuxw First Nation on board with the development that’s slated to have 760 residential units, a 120-room hotel and more than 1,000 square meters of commercial space. The First Nation remains at odds with the project.

Last week, Nanaimo City Council held a third public hearing for the project before sending it for final approval.

The Snuneymuxw First Nation submitted a five-page letter to the City of Nanaimo that maintains it hasn’t been properly consulted. It says the development fails to address the site’s archaeological significance and the environmentlly sensitive area at the mouth of the Millstone River. It also says the developer is failing to give a proper community contribution for the scale of the project.

“Ideally both sides should be satisfied,” said Brian Brossard, another neighbour.

A third neighbour who also lodged a letter opposed to the project says it won’t benefit the people of Nanaimo.

“It will attract out of town people with higher incomes than people in Nanaimo make. They can afford rents and they can afford purchase prices which people in Nanaimo can’t make,” said Greg Klein.

Klein says this will drive up land values and encourage development of other other properties.

Snuneymuxw First Nation said no one from the Nation was available for an on-camera interview by the deadline for this story but it outlined some of it’s concerns in October 2022.

The city said it’s not appropriate to comment before the project gets approval by the province before it goes back to Nanaimo City Council for final approval.

The written submissions for and against the rezoning can be found here.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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