After a multi-year process to determine the future of the Five Acre Farm in Nanaimo, council voted 8-1 to preserve the farmland and park space.
The city purchased the land at 933 Park Ave. in 2019, then began public consultation to determine the future use for the land. On June 19, 2023, city staff came back to council with five potential options for the land.
Option 1 would see three acres of the land used for a park and two acres would be turned into housing adjacent to Park Avenue. Option 2-4 would see four acres for park use and one acre for housing adjacent to Park Avenue (option 2) Boardwalk Avenue (3 and 4). Option 3 would have more farm area and less park space, while the opposite would have been true from option 4.
Option 5 is what council ultimately voted on, which would see all five acres maintained as greenspace and no housing.
Following the staff report, a second round of public engagement was launched where residents were asked to vote on which option they liked best.
A total of 206 people voted for one of each of the first four options, with the overwhelming majority (751 people) voting for option 5.
Ultimately, council decided to follow the will of the people and keep the entire parcel of land as park and farmland.
“I attended the open house, I’ve spoken with a lot of folks on this and I think the magic of the Five Acre Farm parcels in Harewood is real and I’m happy with going with the community’s voice on this one,” Coun. Erin Hemmens said in the Dec. 18 council meeting.
“I tend to agree with staff, we probably could put some housing on there and I’d be inclined to be a bit more creative in terms of the footprint that’s already there, but it was just clear for me hearing from the community.”
Coun. Ian Thorpe was the sole member who voted against the motion to pursue option 5.
“I just don’t feel it is realistically the best and highest use of that land and to simply save it as is because historically it was a five acre lot for farming doesn’t sway me,” Thorpe said in the council meeting.
“Not all of the land within the parcel is appropriate for farming. There is a protected wetland as we all know, I would certainly support something along the lines of option 2 where there is a smaller footprint for some type of housing.”