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Heritage Commission power could be limited under new draft

Sunset over Nelson — photo taken from the draft Sustainable Waterfront and Downtown Master Plan document.

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

The power of the Community Heritage Commission could be curtailed in future development decisions concerning the waterfront and downtown core, according to the draft Sustainable Waterfront and Downtown Master Plan.

The plan — compiled for release to the public March 9 (6-8 p.m.) at the Hume Hotel — suggested the current relationship between City Hall and the Community Heritage Commission (CHC) be revised, "since the master plan set forth new design guidelines that affect how heritage buildings throughout the city and new buildings in the downtown are regulated."

Currently the CHC is responsible for reviewing all development applications within development permit area 2 (downtown), regardless of heritage designation, including new construction.

It was recommended within the master plan that the CHC only review development applications for registered and designated heritage buildings, as well as all existing buildings along Baker Street.

"All other non-heritage registered or designated buildings, as well as new construction, will be reviewed by City staff and possibly council," the draft plan stated.

The draft plan was put together by consultants from IBI Group — the Vancouver group contracted to conduct the process — through two public workshops, building upon the information contained in the Waterfront Visioning Document compiled through public process over one decade ago.

Other panels and commissions

The draft plan also recommended the creation of an Advisory Design Review Panel to review any new construction that "requires contextual treatments in order to relate to heritage buildings."

The role of the Cultural Development Commission would not change, the draft plan stated, as it would still advise the City on matters of public art.

City should set up a development company

To encourage private sector development in a revitalizing downtown, the City should create a catalytic development company to build an initial assemblage of private sector projects. The projects would, in turn, anchor subsequent projects.

The company would be useful, the draft plan stated, if the market and consumer research shows there was potential demand, but where the risk level is 'above market.'

The catalytic development firm would demonstrate to the rest of the development community and their investors that downtown development can make economic sense.

The City, in lieu of subsidies to the developer, will assume the role of partner in the venture, and cold invest in the form of: land purchase and assembly; parking structures; infrastructure; tax abatements; and zoning and development approvals.

"If successful, the CDC will prove the viability of a given development area, the private market will step in, and the CDC will join such ventures through land provisions," the draft plan stated.

For more information on the company, see pages 167 to 168 in the draft plan.