The City of Nelson is hiring a consultant to create a community plan for the Railtown district. The plan, paid for with a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, will be completed by September 2016, according to the city’s head planner Pam Mierau.
“The consultant will take all our high-level documents — the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan, the official community plan, the Path to 2040 sustainability strategy — and interpreting them for Railtown,” Mierau said.
Railtown includes Cottonwood Falls Park, Government Rd., Railway St., and the far west end of Baker St. including the CPR station.
Asked why a plan is needed when the city already has the various plans mentioned above, Mierau said those plans cover general concepts and do not go into sufficient detail.
Nelson’s official community plan only mentions Railtown briefly and proposes the area continue to serve light industrial businesses plus some residential. The Sustainable Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan says essentially the same thing.
Mierau said the new plan is needed because “that area has sat there for a long time. What is it about the area that is not working? Do we have the right density, do we have the right mix of uses, do we need to create incentives for developers? We know we want more residential down there, but where? This is really about what’s on the ground, about what makes sense there.”
Mierau said there may be contaminated land in Railtown because of bulk fuel plants that existed on Government Rd. and the coke processing plant that once operated at 610 Railway St. But she said the plan will be completed first before possible contamination is investigated.
What the official community plan says about Railtown
“The Railtown district is proposed to continue to serve light industrial businesses … and to have modest infill multi-unit residential of some 100 units … These residential units should be located in areas around Baker and Railway streets in order to intensify and reinforce this zone as the core of the neighbourhood.
“They can take the form of residential live/work units as a means of providing affordable space for local artists and small business entrepreneurs. Commercial and industrial uses should be compatible with residential uses. Opportunities for the development of high tech and research and development jobs should be explored.”
— Official community plan, last updated 2013, page 31
What the Sustainable Waterfront and Downtown Master Plan says about Railtown
“The area surrounding the newly renovated CP Rail station will become the new hub of activity within the Railtown district. In immediate proximity to downtown, and with amenities such as Cottonwood Creek Falls, this important neighbourhood will see increased vitality with up to 100 additional housing units, some as live/work units, and approximately 50 to 100 new jobs as a result of new and intensified development of the existing zoned light industrial lands.
“Downtown and Railtown will become better connected to the waterfront through additional linkages that include potential at-grade or bridge crossings over the CP tracks and a trail system following Cottonwood Creek.”
— Sustainable Waterfront and Downtown Master Plan 2011, page i