Vision pitched for a new north Nanaimo park

Landscape architect Fred Brooks proposed to city councillors a plan to buy garden centre land

A landscape architect is calling on city politicians to transform a private nursery into a new park for north Nanaimo.

“It’s just my wild idea,” said landscape architect Fred Brooks, who proposed to city councillors a plan to buy Green Thumb Garden Centre and Nurseries and create a passive leisure park, like Victoria’s Beacon Hill Park and Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Garden.

Green Thumb is an 18-hectare property for sale along Hammond Bay and Uplands Drive in north Nanaimo. Brooks has designed a concept to turn the property into a park that’s all about relaxation, with features like a reflection pond, different gardens, a sun bowl where people can lounge on lawn, a promenade and restaurant. It’s an opportunity for Nanaimo to create a park space that’s nice for citizens and touristy, according to Brooks.

“I just want to re-balance our park amenities,” said Brooks, adding there are great parks and amenities in the south end but nothing in the north end as beneficial or dramatic as what could be created there.

City council has not made any decisions on the proposal.

Coun. Jerry Hong said it’d be great to see if a private organization were to do it, like the Butchart Gardens. He’d rather spend money to buy the rest of Linley Valley.

It’s also not the first attraction proposed recently. Jim Johnson, a Nanaimo realtor, has been working to gauge public and private interest in a gondola or aerial tramway.

If people aren’t willing to pay for an event centre, Hong said he can’t see them wanting to pay taxpayer money to do these other items. He also said there are different aspects of the community wanting different things, and the fact that “they think we can do this without raising taxes is bringing ideas forward,” said Hong, referring to public perception after the event centre proposal.

Coun. Ian Thorpe said there’s a limited amount of money in the city’s land acquisition fund and there are always demands on it, like people who want city council to protect more of Linley Valley, or purchase the Jean Burns and A&B Sound properties for development.

He can’t see council, at this point, willing to take on the proposed garden as a “major, very expensive project.”

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