For a number of years the South End Community Association has wanted to do a neighbourhood plan. We were told that would happen this year for sure but it has been a waiting game even though assurances by City Staff were there. I wrote the following during the election in answer to the 1st. question posed to candidates by South End Votes
(1) The South End is changing. Would you briefly comment on your understanding of the changes here?
The South End has one of the most eclectic blends of residential and commercial as well as a little light industrial thrown into the mix. For me the diversity of people in the area is fantastic as is the commitment of those people living here to bettering the South End for everyone. Previously given quite a bad rap for its concentration of social issues the South End Community Association has been working to change and eliminate these perceptions. This is happening but slowly. We are seeing an influx of new families to the area and development of vacant space for housing is gradually taking place. Over the years a number of people in the area, including myself, have been pushing to get the city to decentralize its social services and avoid the concentration of services in the south end that has happened in the past. For a number of years SECA has been hoping to develop a neighbourhood plan and we have been told we would be next on the list. The city has in its yearly budget $60,000.00 to be put towards developing neighbourhood plans and yet we still wait. A neighbourhood plan will go a long way, working in conjunction with the city’s Official Community Plan, to move towards the removal of light industrial zoning in residential areas that has and still does cause problems for residents of the area. When elected to council I will push to have the neighbourhood plan process for the South End start immediately.
Derek Spalding, of the Nanaimo Daily News, did a little write up shortly after viewing the answers by all of the candidates and commented that though living in the area I didn't know it well because the City had stated SECA would start their plan in January. Well, as we had heard on a number of occasions the plan would be started and knowing how city staff and council works I was a bit skeptical. Derek, turns out I was right eh!
The idea this year was for the City to do 2 plans concurrently, the South End and Brechin Hill/Newcastle plans. Turns out we will now have to wait for council to pass the 2009 budget and rumour has it that in order to cut taxes the $60,000 for neighbourhood planning may be one of the things cut. The Neighbourhood Network, umbrella group consisting of members of the various neighbourhood associations is currently drafting a letter to council, which will be followed up by individual association letters, requesting that this item be left in the budget.
SECA is currently working to set up a steering committee for the project if and hopefully when it happens. As it is never boring in the neighbourhood we even have a bit of controversy happening around this. I will keep you posted on this saga as it is both amusing and pathetic at the same time.