More than 80 people against moving a Nanaimo bus exchange to Terminal Avenue rallied in the city’s downtown Sunday.
It comes the same week city staff asked the City of Nanaimo Finance and Audit Committee to increase the budget for phase one of the project by nearly $1.4 million.
A primary concern is that the bus exchange will attract more social disorder.
“Victoria Crescent has dealt with enough over the past couple of years. We do not need the bus loop here at all. It’s not going to be beneficial to us at all. It’s terrible,” said Dave Lawrence, the Victoria Crescent Association president.
“They have to redesign the infrastructure for this whole area so the buses can turn around and park here. It’s a complete waste of properties that could be developed,” said Dan Appell, an urban planner who was a rally speaker.
The City of Nanaimo has been mulling a transit exchange along Terminal Avenue for years despite opposition.
It purchased properties, and this week, staff will ask the city’s Finance and Audit Committee for another $1.4 million for phase one of the terminal avenue corridor upgrades. They include the replacement of water mains, storm sewer, sidewalks and street lighting and improvements to Italian Square Park & Pioneer Park.
The province has kicked in $1.2 million.
“They (staff) say council if you don’t add this $1.4 million to the $4 million redevelopment for this area, all the cards fall. It all goes. That’s what they’re doing,” said Kevan Shaw, the rally organizer.
A city staff report says the cost increase is due to inflation and an additional water main that required replacement and was added to the project.
The transit exchange comes in a future phase, but it’s the piece people here are vehemently against.
“I worked as a case manager in housing for about four years here for the John Howard Society, so I know our homeless population better than anybody, and a lot of them congregate at the bus shelters when they have nowhere to go, and our bus shelters have become increasingly unsafe,” said Jason Flett, who now manages The Terminal Bar.
There are also concerns the bus exchange would take away parking behind the popular music venue, The Queen’s Bar.
“They come here with their tour bus. They’ve got to load their gear. They’ve got to come in here. We’ve got the best people playing at this club. This is a heritage hotel. We need to preserve it,” said Michael Patrick, a long-time guest musician at The Queen’s.
Nanaimo’s mayor says while he and council still need to make a decision, he doesn’t believe bus exchanges attract problems.
“I don’t think that’s fair. Transit exchanges attract people who will come and shop and live and work in our downtown if you will, and that’s a positive step,” said Leonard Krog.
Krog says a modern functioning exchange is a good thing.
The rally organizer said the exchange should be closer to the Port of Nanaimo terminal, where the foot passenger ferry service will start this summer.