Nanaimo residents have a lot of different ideas about visions for the waterfront, but there seems to be at least one project people can agree on.
The waterfront walkway is highly valued by citizens and that could be seen in the volume of responses to a City of Nanaimo survey on the amenity, with more than 1,900 people weighing in.
City council had previously named the seawall as one of its priorities, and publicized the survey and open houses last month as part of an engagement process for a new plan in the works for a continuous walkway from Departure Bay to the Nanaimo River estuary.
Pretty much any aspect of the potential project is up for discussion, as the city has identified various portions of the waterfront walkway for improvements and expansion.
The survey found that residents most desire a connection between Departure Bay beach and the nearby B.C. Ferries terminal. It sounds appealing in theory, but of course there would be all kinds of difficulties around co-operation with impacted neighbourhoods, including in Cilaire where some residents have water access. The city also acknowledges geotechnical, archaeological and environmental challenges.
We know building a walkway from Departure Bay to Nanaimo estuary won’t be easy and the seawall path might have to wind in unexpected ways to connect point A and point B, but everything about the look, feel and usage of the existing sections suggest great potential. It’s important to plan for the future so we can navigate the costs and barriers that need to be overcome and we encourage residents to continue to give feedback to the City of Nanaimo so a waterfront trail we can all be proud of can surpass the amenity we already enjoy.
Walkway expansion could be transformative to Nanaimo if politicians and residents can find ways to make it happen. It could encourage alternative transportation and healthy living, give residents more of the waterfront to enjoy and a space for tourists to soak up what the Harbour City is all about.