Exerpted from the Globe and Mail

NANAIMO, B.C. ā€” It looks like it could have been made by a bomb. And in some ways the gigantic hole that you now find smack dab in the middle of this hard-luck city’s historic downtown core did set off reverberations that can still be felt today.

“Quite a sight isn’t it?” says Don Stone, a college professor, pointing at the Nanaimo construction site. “It’s madness, absolute madness. But in many ways, I guess, it’s typical of the kind of decision making that has been a hallmark of this city. It’s a shame. A crying shame.”

The centerpiece of Mr. Korpan’s dream for a revitalized city centre is something being called the New Nanaimo Centre. The entire development is a joint project of the city and Suro, the U.S. real estate giant based in Stamford, Conn.

The Americans swung a pretty sweet deal. As part of the agreement, the city will pay $3.5-million to replace parking for a nearby park, $1.3-million for a new road to the condos and the park and the costs of hooking up sewer and water services to the site.

Beyond that, the city will also be on the hook for the costs associated with soil cleanup, which could end up being huge. The site was the location of an old foundry for many years, as well as a battery plant and lumber mill.

“The mayor thought he was playing in the big leagues with these guys, but they knew they were dealing with a total rube,” Mr. Stone said.

Beyond the conference centre and the condo towers being built by Suro, two other condo towers are going up right on the harbour. One of them is being erected at the site of the once-famous Malispina Hotel, the concrete carcass of which has sat vacant for nearly 15 years, to the embarrassment of everyone.

The proliferation of condo towers is also part of Mr. Korpan’s overarching plan to bring the city’s battered and depressed downtown core back to life.

You could trace the city’s reputation as a dusty, blue-collar repository for the likes of groups such as the Hells Angels, whose Nanaimo chapter has been one of the most visible and controversial over the years, way back to 1849 when coal was found in the area. It turned Nanaimo into one gigantic industrial site. Half the current city is built on top of mine shafts. On top of generations of hard-working labourers, lumberjacks and fishermen too.

In modern times, the 1970s to be precise, giant malls began popping up on the outskirts of town, dealing a severe blow to the downtown core (and leading one anonymous poet to declare: “Nanaimo is an Indian word meaning too many malls.”) Despite a major recession in the area in the 80s, the downtown retail sector, as recently as 1996, comprised 34 per cent of the city’s total commercial tax base. By 2003, that was down to 15 per cent.

Skyrocketing construction costs, as well as additional expenditures for things like site cleanup, have already pushed the costs to the up to $72.2-million.

And they’re climbing.

Mr. Korpan, however, has no intention of backing off. No intention of filling in the big hole in the middle of town and starting over. But if he doesn’t exactly sound desperate, there is something in the mayor’s voice that suggests the city’s time is now, that it doesn’t have to continue being the butt of everyone’s jokes. It has a spectacular harbour, agreeable year-round weather and a great, commerce-friendly position on the island.

Time will tell.

Advertisements

34 Responses to Exerpted from the Globe and Mail

  1. atrophe says:

    Hahaha 15 years. I had no idea that piece of shit had been sitting there that long. Was bad enough when I thought it was 5-7.

    Also is anyone suprised at the 72 million dollar crater.

    • mrdapper says:

      no one is surprised. or if they are, they’re idiots. i thought it was apretty obvious outcome of the venture. i think there should be birthday parties for the crater every summer.

  2. atrophe says:

    Hahaha 15 years. I had no idea that piece of shit had been sitting there that long. Was bad enough when I thought it was 5-7.

    Also is anyone suprised at the 72 million dollar crater.

  3. nathandrama says:

    yep
    that’s the one

    it’s actually quite sad
    i know i’m going to live in nanaimo again one day
    maybe when i’m 40, maybe when i’m 90, i’m not sure
    i’d really like it to be kinda how it was. i never minded it being an industrial wasteland so much.
    when i went over for xmas though that giant hole was way too much

    • mrdapper says:

      the big hole doesn’t bothe rme half as much as the methies doing smash n’ grabs and having freak outs on the street. i avoided moving to vancouver for 15 years to keep away from those kinds of sheenanigans. but east hastings has caught up with me.

      i’m beginning to side with the north endeders. i go downtown as little as possible.

      • nathandrama says:

        the first time i moved from nanaimo to vancouver (about five years ago?) was basically to get away from drugs

      • mollyroyal says:

        i’ve met a few dudes that would tell me that they moved from vancouver to nanaimo to get away from drugs, and the scene they were in in van. I was always amazed when i saw a couple succeed in nanaimo. It seems like a hard place to beat drugs in.

      • mrdapper says:

        i think that’s why there’s so many drugs in nananimo. all the vancouver junkies congregating and creating a vibrant market.

  4. nathandrama says:

    yep
    that’s the one

    it’s actually quite sad
    i know i’m going to live in nanaimo again one day
    maybe when i’m 40, maybe when i’m 90, i’m not sure
    i’d really like it to be kinda how it was. i never minded it being an industrial wasteland so much.
    when i went over for xmas though that giant hole was way too much

  5. nathandrama says:

    ps

    i thought it was weird before that mr? corpan was still the mayor. but then i remembered that frank ney was the mayor for how long?

    once you are mayor of nanaimo you pretty much have a job for life

  6. nathandrama says:

    ps

    i thought it was weird before that mr? corpan was still the mayor. but then i remembered that frank ney was the mayor for how long?

    once you are mayor of nanaimo you pretty much have a job for life

  7. mrdapper says:

    Re: ps

    it shouldn’t be surprising since only people in the north end vote and to them it seems like he’s doing a swell job because a lot of them haven’t even been downtown for ten years. “big hole? what big hole?”

  8. mrdapper says:

    the big hole doesn’t bothe rme half as much as the methies doing smash n’ grabs and having freak outs on the street. i avoided moving to vancouver for 15 years to keep away from those kinds of sheenanigans. but east hastings has caught up with me.

    i’m beginning to side with the north endeders. i go downtown as little as possible.

  9. mrdapper says:

    no one is surprised. or if they are, they’re idiots. i thought it was apretty obvious outcome of the venture. i think there should be birthday parties for the crater every summer.

  10. nathandrama says:

    the first time i moved from nanaimo to vancouver (about five years ago?) was basically to get away from drugs

  11. kenholiday says:

    its a fucking joke.
    someone should really just bomc city hall, then use the ruble to just fill in the fucking hole.

  12. kenholiday says:

    its a fucking joke.
    someone should really just bomc city hall, then use the ruble to just fill in the fucking hole.

  13. mollyroyal says:

    i’ve met a few dudes that would tell me that they moved from vancouver to nanaimo to get away from drugs, and the scene they were in in van. I was always amazed when i saw a couple succeed in nanaimo. It seems like a hard place to beat drugs in.

  14. mollyroyal says:

    These are the comments that make me really go “ahh ken.” its awesome.

  15. mollyroyal says:

    Re: ps

    you know whats really amazing. that people havent made a blockbuster hit of a movie, or book about Nanaimo. Seriously, when i am trying to explain Nanaimo to Matt…it’s totally bizarre. All the highs and lows…seriously…it kinda boggles my mind.

  16. mollyroyal says:

    Re: ps

    it is. im thinking of getting into to it just for job stability.

  17. mrdapper says:

    i think that’s why there’s so many drugs in nananimo. all the vancouver junkies congregating and creating a vibrant market.

  18. mrdapper says:

    Re: ps

    explaining frank ney alone is a book.

  19. mrdapper says:

    or even use the malaspina hotel to fill in the hole. two problems solved.

  20. Korpan should’ve spent $2 million and had a Rolling Stones concert like sars era Toronto and that place in New Brunswick. I guarantee you it would’ve been more sucessful than this. In fact, if they call everything off and have a concert in the pit right now, I’ll applaud and pay $75 to see it. Do it Korpan.

  21. Korpan should’ve spent $2 million and had a Rolling Stones concert like sars era Toronto and that place in New Brunswick. I guarantee you it would’ve been more sucessful than this. In fact, if they call everything off and have a concert in the pit right now, I’ll applaud and pay $75 to see it. Do it Korpan.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: