Environmental work first step in Wellcox project

A new environmental study is considered the first step towards redeveloping a 26.7-acres section of waterfront property just south of Nanaimo’s downtown core.
The City of Nanaimo has gathered proposals from 11 companies who have submitted bids to carry out a “detailed site assessment” of the civic-owned land, commonly referred to as the Wellcox rail land.
The aim is to provide an in-depth breakdown of all historic soil and water contamination in the industrial area, which is located at 1 Port Dr. next to the Port Place shopping centre.
Bill Corsan, real estate manager for the City of Nanaimo, said updated information on the site is needed before the city can get permission from the province to subdivide the property for a number of proposed uses. It will also be key to determine what work is required to remediate the land so development can take place.
“A lot of it has to do with land uses that we’re proposing for the area,” said Corsan. “We do this part, which is kind of the analysis part of what’s there, and then you kind of have to do a more detailed planning piece on it as well. Once you’ve done that, then you can move on to the actual subdivision piece.”
According to the tender document posted by the city, the area was created “by the distribution of the coal waste from the Vancouver Coal Mining Company’s operations south of the property.”
The mine remained active until 1953, whereupon the land was sold to CP Rail, which developed the property into the Wellcox yard. The city purchased the land CP Rail in March of last year for $3.4 million.
Most of the land is still used for industrial purposes. Seaspan Ferries Corporation has a right of way agreement for 15.5 acres of land and water in the area, while the Island Corridor Foundation and Southern Rail have right of way for 2.5 acres. The city also leases one acre of the property to a local pallet company.
However, there are larger plans for the property, including a transportation hub through a partnership between the city and the Regional District of Nanaimo. The city is also poised to sign a 20-year, renewable lease for a ferry terminal building for a new foot passenger ferry service between Nanaimo and Vancouver.
Corsan said if the results of the study come back as expected, not a lot of remediation would be required to address contamination on the property.
Spencer Anderson / Daily News

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