Shaping Our Future
Large Land Holdings Study
The Regional District of Nanaimo Board of Directors initiated the Large Land Holdings Study in 1997 to obtain information about large land holdings in the Regional District and to develop an approach to determining the best use of large land holdings in the context of the Growth Management Plan.

A major component of the Large Land Holdings Study was the definition of the type of large land holdings that warrant study. It was determined that the Study should focus on large land holdings that:

  • are not in the Agricultural Land Reserve,
  • are not in the Forest Land Reserve,
  • are not an island regulated by the Islands Trust,
  • are not a provincial or regional park,
  • are not Indian Reserves,
  • are not Federal Lands,
  • are not located inside the Urban Containment Boundary, and
  • have redevelopment potential
  • are not smaller isolated parcels.
As a result of this definition, the Large Land Holdings Study focused on sixteen large land holdings. The sixteen large land holdings are:

1. Qualicum Bay/Dunsmuir   9. Block 564
2. Qualicum River 10. Lantzville Foothills
3. Horne Lake 11. Linley Valley
4. Little Qualicum Falls 12. Mount Benson
5. Qualicum West 13. Harewood
6. Coombs/Errington 14. Nanaimo River (South)
7. French Creek West 15. Duke Point Connector
8. Alberni Highway Industrial 16. Boat Harbour

he Large Land Holdings Study classified these sixteen large land holdings into four categories according to the level of ownership consolidation, the potential significance of the parcel in achieving the vision and goals of the Growth Management Plan, the ability to deal with the holding in the official community plan process, the degree of existing policy commitments for specific uses on the holdings, and other circumstances, such as inclusion in the provincial Forest and Agricultural Land Reserves, as illustrated in Table 1. The Study also recommended a method of analysis for determining the best use of the land holdings in each category, as illustrated in Table 1.

Category Rationale for Category Holdings Recommended Method of Analysis
  • Largest holdings
  • Generally under fairly consolidated ownership or comprised of several large parcels that could be consolidated
  • May be significant value in rigorous analysis process
  • Potential use of property is of great significance in regional context
  • Qualicum Bay/Dunsmuir
  • Qualicum River
  • Block 564
  • Lantzville Foothills
  • Mount Benson
  • Nanaimo River South
  • Most rigorous analysis process
  • Authorization process;
  • Develop & evaluate alternatives
  • Decision process
  • Plan & Application Process
  • Fairly significant areas
  • More fragmented ownership
  • Little Qualicum Falls
  • Qualicum West
  • Coombs/Errington
  • French Creek West
  • Alberni Highway Industrial
  • Linley Valley
  • Harewood
  • Official community plan review process
  • Somewhat consolidated ownership
  • Significant commitments to end-state land use have already been made by Growth Management Plan or local official community plan
  • Duke Point Connector
  • Boat Harbour
  • Normal application review
  • Special circumstances that need to be resolved (e.g. over-riding regulatory processes such as FLR or ALR)
  • Horne Lake
  • Resolve through process related to special circumstance, then through official community plan review process

Since the Large Land Holdings Study report was written the Regional District has completed projects that correspond to the Study's findings. Specifically, the Growth Management Plan was updated in 1999 to respond to new information arising from the development and review of official community plans and new information obtained through special studies. Of particular relevance to the Large Land Holdings Study, the Growth Management Plan was amended to allow for the consideration of a destination alpine resort node adjacent to Mount Arrowsmith, if such a project can demonstrate that if fulfills a regional need and that it complements the environmental, economic, and social attributes of the area. This amendment was based on the direction provided the Large Land Holdings Study that suggests, in the consideration of the use of large land holdings, that issues related to Forest or Agriculture Land Reserve legislation be addressed prior to considering the use in the context of the applicable official community plan.

Similarly, the future use of the Horne Lake holdings, another Category 4 holding, is currently being considered according to the process the Large Land Holdings Study recommends for this type of holding. Specifically, special circumstances including the legislative requirements of other jurisdictions and the unique tenure issues are being addressed first, prior to the consideration of the best use of the holding through the official community plan review process.

The future use of the identified Category 3 lands, the Boat Harbour and Duke Point Connector holdings, will be addressed during the normal land use application review process or the review of the respective official community plans for these areas, the Electoral Area A Official Community Plan and Plan Nanaimo. The Electoral Area A Official Community Plan is currently being reviewed and amendments to Plan Nanaimo may be considered in the future.

As recommended by the Large Land Holdings Study, the best use of the identified Category 2 lands has been, or is intended to be, considered in the review of official community plans covering these holdings. Specifically, the Electoral Area F Official Community Plan, adopted in 1999, identified the best long-term use of the following large land holdings: Little Qualicum Falls, Coombs/Errington, and Alberni Highway Industrial. The future use of the Qualicum West holding was considered in the review of the Qualicum Beach Official Community Plan in 1998. The next scheduled review of Plan Nanaimo may consider the best use of the Linley Valley and Harewood holdings.

The future use of the Category 1 lands, given their consolidated ownership and planning significance, is best addressed as a part of the consideration of amendments to the Growth Management Plan, during the Growth Management Plan review process scheduled for 2001-2002. The planning evaluation framework recommended by the Large Land Holdings Study could be incorporated into the Growth Management Plan during the review to provide a mechanism to address the use of these lands when required.

The framework recommended by the Large Land Holdings Study takes into account government policy, stakeholder interests and broader economic and social objectives. It also recognizes the Growth Management Plan direction, considers all reasonable alternatives comprehensively, and allows for the cooperation and involvement of multiple actors in the land use decision-making process.

The Large Land Holdings Study is available for purchase at the Regional District of Nanaimo Administration office for $25.00.

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