Monday, August 31, 2015

Wellcox Property 'Deal' - Good or Bad? Transparent?

Blue = City of Nanaimo     Red = Seaspan     Green= ICF
The Last Nanaimo 'Frontier' 
Did Council Have All the Facts?

One would be hard pressed to say that buying this 'prime' piece of Nanaimo downtown waterfront property isn't visionary and showing great foresight by the council under John Ruttan that decided to purchase it for the city.

The question that now arises however is whether or not city staff were completely forthright and transparent with how this proposal was presented to city council and the citizens of Nanaimo.

I remember the first 'version' of this purchase went something like this: we bought this prime piece of land for a mere $3.4 million which would be covered by about $2 million from the RDN who wanted to put their bus terminal on the property. Initial reports from previous studies done by the old owners indicated soil remediation would not be a major concern.

What Was Not Made Apparent At The Time
  • Seaspan and the Island Corridor Foundation both possess perpetual rights of use licences which gives them full control of about 80% of this property with no rent being paid, and in the case of Seaspan they do pay about $30,000/yr. in taxes for this waterfront property.
  • The trestle which provides access to the assembly wharf and the Nanaimo Cruise Ship Terminal was in disrepair and will require about $6-$7 million to bring up to standard.
  • Taxpayers assumed responsibility for the roadway from the trestle to the Cruise Ship Terminal entrance and the Nanaimo Port Authority offices.
  • Taxpayers will have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to demolish and remove the old pallet farm and warehouse they were using.
  • Taxpayers will have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to remove the old dock, which we are told will be charged to Seaspan someday.
  • Taxpayers have no idea how much it will cost to get Seaspan to give up their perpetual right of use licence which costs them nothing in rent to use this prime piece of waterfront property.
  • Taxpayers will receive no benefit in either rent or taxes from the Island Corridor Foundation.
  • Accessing this property from Front Street will likely prove a very costly exercise if we are dealing with level rail crossings etc.
  • Taxpayers were not told at the time going into this deal, that staff thought soil remediation could run into as much as $30 million.
  • Taxpayers still do not know what the implications are of the archaeological site found on this site will be.
  • Taxpayers have never been presented with a realistic, open and transparent estimate of what we are in for, before this land is fully developed, assuming it can be fully developed.



  1. Hey! (bureaucrat talking), it's not my money we're talk'n 'bout. I don't care. We can just raise taxes to pay for all, me home boyz and galz.

  2. The accessabilty and right of way problems with the Welcox land were well known before the purchase.
    Council, staff and the media chose to ignore the problems when their eyes glazed over at the thought of an oceanside multiplex.You forget quickly that Seaspan dangled the carrot of cheap access purchase IF Council gave way to the garbage incinerator at Duke Point.
    With the loss of the incinerator project Seaspan will likely go back to asking $18-$20 million for the privilage.


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