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Recomposing remnant industrial land : Union Bay, BC De Greeff, Paul Thomas

Abstract

Union Bay is a small community of 650 people located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, BC. At the turn of the century and during the early stages of development in the province of British Columbia, Union Bay played an important role as a shipping port for coal mined at Cumberland 13 miles to the northwest. Today, the town of Union Bay remains as a picturesque seaside settlement, but the waterfront site of the old coal wharf facilities and industrial buildings that once bustled with activity now rests idle. Much speculation has existed over how the historic industrial site in Union Bay should be restored, or to what use the land should be put. This project attempts to move beyond speculation, and to propose a tangible vision for the future use of the site so that it contributes once again to the overall health of the region. Contained in the report is a body of work that investigates the physical constraints of the former industrial lands, as well as cultural biases that might affect a development proposal for the site. Using this background research as a basis, a development proposal for the 101 acres (41 hectares) is presented. Highlights of the development proposal include the establishment of a pedestrian oriented village centre that envelopes a marina development in the sheltered waters of Union Bay. Higher density residential development is aggregated in clusters around the village centre, with one residential cluster proposed for the northwest portion of the site. A park is proposed for the remainder of the site, with an integrated trail system that links park amenities and development clusters together. Although the various aspects of the development proposal are supported by site observations and research, the project represents a qualitative assessment of what could happen with the abandoned industrial lands at Union Bay. As such, the proposal reflects various theoretical and physical landscape precedents, as well as the personal values of the author. It is hoped the project will stimulate discussion with respect to the site, and will help to generate ideas that could lead to the development of a healthy and enjoyable landscape.

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