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Land exchange provides recreational corridor along Nanaimo's Millstone River

A new property swap could land the city a seamless 18-hectare park.

The City of Nanaimo has announced it has entered into two land exchange agreements with property owners along the Millstone River.

The deal, which would cost Nanaimo $20,000 in survey work, would switch up boundaries along the Millstone River, creating a continuous city-owned nature corridor between Maffeo Sutton Park and East Wellington Road.

The swap needs the permission of the Agricultural Land Commission because the properties sit within the reserve, but if approved, officials say the green space will lead to new recreational opportunities and environmental protection.

“On the recreational corridor side, [it] provides some real opportunities of actually creating some trail ways that will now link together,” said Richard Harding, the city’s director of parks, recreation and environment. “This is an important piece.”

Since the 1990s the City of Nanaimo has been working to create the Millstone Greenway, a linear corridor that will link  public spaces like Maffeo-Sutton Park, Bowen park and Buttertubs Marsh. The trail currently only stretches from the waterfront to Buttertubs, but has the potential to go as far as East Wellington Road.

Last December the city purchased what it called the last piece of land needed to complete its greenway vision – a $340,000 plot at 155 Westwood Rd. The city didn’t own all the land along the strip but held rights-of-way that would have allowed it to create a new trail and park network. In the latest deal, the city will get full ownership of the corridor. Landowners will trade just over four hectares for 1.8 hectares of the city’s new Westwood Road property. The trade will go through at the end of the year if approved by the land commission.

“Fingers crossed,” said Bill Corsan, the city’s manager of real estate. “If the ALC grants approval for this, I think we will have a cool park network.”

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