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New Nanaimo visitor centre opening delayed

A visitor information centre at the Nanaimo Parkway and Northfield Road will not be ready for the May long weekend.

Nanaimo’s Saywell Developments was awarded the construction contract with a bid of $259,459, but Ian Howat, city director of strategic relationships, said design work on the centre at the Rotary rest area took longer than expected.

No date was set for completion of the permanent centre, and Susan Cudahy, Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation CEO, said plans are underway to open a temporary site next month.

“We’re making sure that access to the site by the public during construction wouldn’t pose any security problems or safety issues,” she said. “If that is not a plausible option at the rest area, maybe there’s an alternative where we can set up and not miss an opportunity to have a visitor information centre.”

Any temporary site would require high visibility, accessibility to Internet, phones and parking.

“It’s not that you can set up just any where,” she said. “It has to have easy access so the public can pull in with a boat or RV.”

The permanent project was approved by council last year, and includes closing in the picnic area, upgrading washrooms, and adding offices, counter space and display racks.

Howat said Saywell’s bid does not include other components of the project, including a dog park and sani-dump.

The cost estimate on the entire project is $500,000. The city received a $155,000 grant from the Island Coastal Economic Trust.

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