Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wellcox Property Worth Repeating

This was first published in February 2014, which was before we had entered into the 'lease' with the downtown ferry service and before we serviced the site for the ferry. It was also before the 'significant archaeological site' being found when the pallet farm was demolished. Seaspan and ICF still control 80% of this land and it is shaping up to be a very costly venture for Nanaimo taxpayers. A case could be made for leaving land development in the private sector.

The South Downtown Waterfront Committee has recently finished it's work exploring possible uses of the waterfront property the city of Nanaimo purchased last year on property commonly known as the Wellcox rail yard. No doubt sometime in a time far, far, far away this property could be a waterfront jewel to be cherished for generations to come. That of course presumes Nanaimo doesn't fall into the labyrinth of mine shafts honeycombing the entire downtown when the dreaded 'Big One' hits with the ensuing tidal wave, which washes all of downtown out to sea.

In the current state, what the taxpayers of Nanaimo have purchased is some 27 acres of prime downtown waterfront property of which we control about 20 - 25%. The balance of the property is encumbered with leases to the Island Corridor Foundation and Seaspan, both of which have perpetual rights of use to the land they now occupy for which they pay no rent to their new landlord, which of course are the taxpayers of Nanaimo.

The entire parcel is outlined in the heavy black line, and includes the two strips highlighted in red. The red shows the trestle and roadway we assumed liability for in the purchase, even though neither are needed to access the 27 acres we did buy. You can ask your councillors about the logic behind that as the rationale seems a little vague.

Whether the Nanaimo taxpayer had to take control of this parcel in order for it to see it's fullest potential is a topic of discussion. Those who think the city really should stay out of the property development business could make a sound argument for the wisdom of this purchase and the liability the taxpayers have now assumed with the repairs needed for the wooden trestle, whatever costs will be needed for site remediation, the total cost to 'buy out' Seaspan and ICF's interest in the property. As long as Seaspan and ICF occupy their present footprint, there is really very little land that will accrue much value to the Nanaimo taxpayer. Why either Seaspan or ICF would have any real interest in surrendering their perpetual rights of use to such a valuable piece of land is a bit of a mystery at this point, but you can bet that will add considerably to the cost the Nanaimo taxpayer will have paid when this deal is final.


1 comment:

  1. What has always puzzled me is the City of Nanaimo's allowance of dangerous goods coming over the Seaspan Ramp and trucked through the downtown core. Seems to me to be a good case of negligence against the City for knowingly allowing this practice, resulting in lawsuits from those affected by any such spills. Seaspan has extensive property holdings at Duke Point which included two ramps. The City could easily restrict any dangerous goods transiting the downtown core.


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