While civic leaders search desperately for a Nanaimo brand, an identity we can market to the outside world to attract people here, two special interest groups have emerged that might be able to point us in the right direction.
Team Save Linley Valley West is pleading to council to protect that unique 160-hectare ecosystem as most, if not all, of the remaining land is private and zoned for residential development.
An impossibility, says city council, because of the $6-million price tag.
In the last few weeks alone, however, council has spent taxpayers’ money haphazardly. Almost $19,000 on lawyers’ fees to remove Occupy Nanaimo protesters, $120,000 to hire a company to tell city hall what its priorities should be, $74,500 to subsidize the Port Theatre, and more than $420,000 to explore the possibility of building a new $60-million dam (water conservation be damned).
Never mind $1 million annually to subsidize the conference centre.
At the same time, the Nanaimo Mountain Bike Club is working to ensure local world-class trail systems remain accessible.
Because most of the trails outside city limits are on private forest company lands, certainty of future use cannot be guaranteed.
The commonality is that accessible green space, areas where people can exercise and enjoy nature, is becoming more valuable left undeveloped. It is an increasingly valuable commodity.
More and more, green space adds to the tax base by increasing nearby property values and attracting companies like Microsoft, which recently nestled into Victoria because of its easy access to nature.
Nanaimo is blessed with green space, and every effort should be made to preserve what we have, both for people who live here and for visitors, instead of spending money chasing rainbows.