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Nanaimo council seeks plan to expand waterfront walkway

  - News Bulletin File
— image credit: News Bulletin File

The city is studying the nuts and bolts of building a seamless waterfront walkway from Departure Bay to the Nanaimo estuary.

The City of Nanaimo is on the search for a consultant or team to create a waterfront walkway implementation plan this year, budgeted at $150,000.

The work will look at a vision for the walkway, not yet complete, how different segments will be built, costs and an implementation schedule with an aim of “full connectivity” by 2027, according to city’s request for qualifications, a process where the city finds a firm with which it can negotiate.

The city also wants conceptual drawings and detailed designs for two sections of trail way ahead of construction in 2018, including a section of the boat basin between McGregor Park and Cameron Island and from Beach Estates Park to B.C. Ferries.

Other key trail sections of interest to council span two areas on Nanaimo Port Authority lands at Newcastle Marina and Asia Pacific Yachting Group, and 1 Port Dr., where a master planning process is underway.

“We have this vision to build the waterfront walkway all the way from the estuary through to Departure Bay, but we’ve never really put together a full plan of what the trail looks like in different sections and where it’s actually supposed to go, what the cost is and logically which bits should we be doing first,” said Bill Corsan, the city’s manager of real estate.

It’s not the first time the city has looked at expanding its waterfront walkway. Council authorized staff to begin work tied to a multi-use trail from Departure Bay to the ferry terminal 19 years ago. By 2006, the city learned it needed the consent of 39 landowners who had riparian rights and that almost all did not support the project, a city report shows.

Corsan said one of the things hoped for with the study is to look at the rights of landowners and solutions.

Coun. Diane Brennan said council decided in the summer when it set its priorities it wanted to ultimately have the waterfront walkway go from Departure Bay right around to 1 Port Dr.

“This is kind of the first step and what we’re doing is taking chunks that are more doable,” said Brennan, who sees it as a big deal. “It’s really a good sign that if we set our minds to it and we work together we can accomplish things, and this is a priority for all of council and it’s a priority for the citizens and so why wouldn’t we want to sort of celebrate that and move forward on it? It would be a big achievement.”

The Nanaimo Port Authority, Snuneymuxw First Nation, province, Island Corridor Foundation and Department of Fisheries and Oceans are expected to be involved in the work to come up with a strategy. There will also be public consultation.

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