Nanaimo housing shortage has city considering developing 42-acre garden centre

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Shalema Gantt worried Thursday about the New Year to come, as she struggled to find a new place to live in Nanaimo’s housing shortage.

“It is getting outrageous and is almost impossible to find a place. I’m scared,” said Shalema Gantt, a Nanaimo resident and the President of the Nanaimo African Heritage Society.

After renting a downtown Nanaimo home for nine years, she was issued an eviction notice so that the owner can move in his business.

Gantt said she hasn’t been able to secure a new rental and has to be out of her current one by January 30.

“There are very few vacancies and the vacancies out there are three times the rent that I pay today. And that’s what our times are. That’s what we’re living in our community today,” said Gantt.

It comes as Nanaimo residents are considering redevelopment plans for the 42-acre Green Thumb Garden Centre property on Hammond Bay Road to turn it into a massive new housing development.

According to Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog, the real estate market is fast becoming out of reach for many.

“We’re down to 84 single-family dwellings listed (in Nanaimo) and over 60 per cent of those are listed at $1-Million or more. We have a vacancy rate below 1 per cent. The need for housing in our community is desperate, we have 600 homeless people we estimate,” said Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog.

The plan for the Bowers District development would take an Official Community Plan amendment, so it will go before a public hearing in January. If approved, the development would create 2500 housing units that include multi-storey, high-density buildings.

“The plan as proposed I think looks like a good one. I realize there is concern about the height of buildings but we aren’t there yet,” said Krog.

The Bowers District development would be a long-term project, constructed over the next 25 years, while renters like Gantt worry about where they will live right away.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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