Tourism

Ask an expert - trails

Nanaimo’s trail system is great, but what does the city have planned for expansion?

The City of Nanaimo parks department is not about to rest on its laurels when it comes to trails.

With more than 130 kilometres of trails within its boundaries, the city has a system that is key to both recreation and transportation.

Whether it’s hiking the routes around Jack Point or Westwood Lake parks, or biking to work along the Parkway or E&N trails, residents and visitors have a host of options available to them.

And if Jeff Ritchie, senior manager of parks, gets his wish, there will be more kilometres added.

“We’re pretty proud of what we’ve got, but there’s always something on the horizon,” he said. “We want to have as many multi-use trails and as many people on them as possible.”

The latest plan is for a second section of the E&N Trail in the city’s south end.

“We have council approval to go for a grant looking at the E&N from Albert to Seventh Street,” said Ritchie. “You see a lot of people walking along the railway tracks and we’d like to duplicate what we’ve done in the north.”

That concept starts with completion of a trail between Franklyn to Fitzwilliam streets behind the E&N Train Station this summer.

“It’s not very long, but it’s a start to connecting to the south,” said Ritchie. “We’ve got some concepts and we’ll see how the grant application goes. If we’re successful, that would be great.”

With work on Bowen Road getting closer to completion, the perimeter trail at Bowen West Field is scheduled for paving, relinking the trail system from Maffeo Sutton Park, through Barsby and Bowen parks, to Buttertubs Marsh, the university district and onto the Nanaimo Parkway.

Other concepts on the wish list include work at Harewood Centennial Park at Howard Avenue between Sixth and Seventh streets.

“It’s a fairly large park with soccer fields, ball fields, a playground, and we’re looking to put a trail system through it,” said Ritchie.

The idea of a trail network through downtown, along the waterfront, skirting Departure Bay, around to Neck Point Park, Walley Creek and out to the north end is still in the city’s strategic plan, but remains well into the future.

“We’re always looking at opportunities to link trails, and from a parks person’s perspective that would be awesome. But there are a lot of issues with that,” said Ritchie. “For now, priority is the south. That’s the best bang for the buck.”

news@nanaimobulletin.com

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