Rainbow Gardens comes back with new Westporte Park proposal

Westporte Park is once again being considered for purchase by Rainbow Gardens for their expansion.

Rainbow Gardens' proposed development in Westporte Park is show above. The yellow section will be 20 units of adaptable seniors housing

Westporte Park is once again being considered for purchase by Rainbow Gardens.

“The City of Port Alberni has agreed to the sale of Westporte Park for a proposed seniors housing and related park development to Westcoast Native Healthcare Society,” announced Mayor Mike Ruttan.

The $163,000 sale is not yet final, he said.

“The formal rezoning process will be required including the requirement for a public hearing.”

This is the second time that the city has considered selling Westporte Park to Rainbow Gardens; the first attempt took place last year and was kiboshed following public outcry about the loss of the park.

The former proposal, which was criticized for being too vague, would have had the city develop a new park in the northeast corner of the Westporte subdivision.

At the time, longtime Westporte Place resident John Bennie said he was concerned about the safety of a relocated park.

(Interested in more history? Read about the public hearing here, city council’s decision here and a meeting for Westporte residents here.)

“We don’t really know yet what the WCNHS proposes for this [site.] It’s very worrisome and unnerving. I just don’t think taking away this green space that’s so well utilized makes sense to me,” Bennie said at the time.

This time, Rainbow Gardens has come forward with a slightly different and much more detailed proposal that included 20 adaptable care units and 10 units of complex care, as well as a new playground, green space and pickleball courts, according to WCNHS manager of assisted living residences Shaunee Casavant. The recreational areas within the current Westport Park site are meant to assuage neighbourhood concerns about losing the park—instead of relocating it, Rainbow Gardens will incorporate it into their new development, she said.

“We’ve enhanced the vision of what the project is about and I think we’ve been clearer about how it is a benefit to the Westporte neighbourhood and the community as a whole,” said Casavant.

“We’re really focusing on the amenities as well as the housing. The amenities would be providing some [outdoor] exercise equipment, some walkways, a pickleball court and a play area for children.”

Discussions have already begun with BC Housing, she added.

If the development does not go forward within five years, the city has an option to buy back the site at the original price.

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