The city has purchased the missing link in what could give Nanaimo residents a new nature excursion.
On Dec. 17 the city paid $340,000 for a plot of land at 155 Westwood Rd. The 2.9-hectare lot is a narrow strip of land that runs along the west side of Westwood Road between Cathers Drive and East Wellington Road and represents the last link in a chain of land parcels and parks that will make up the Millstone River Greenway.
The acquisition means people will one day be able to run, walk or cycle through parks linked by an unbroken trail from the mouth of the Millstone River at Maffeo Sutton Park in downtown Nanaimo to a new park to be developed at East Wellington Road.
“That’s actually the last piece of land we needed to complete the actual trail network and the park network,” said Bill Corsan, the city’s manager of real estate.
The next step is for the parks department to start on a planning process that will look at all the lands the city has purchased along the route, starting with a 12-ha property along East Wellington Road, Corsan said.
The Westwood Road property could be developed as a park in itself or serve as a trail right of way to an existing gravel trail along the Millstone between the Parkway Trail to Westwood Road with the larger property at East Wellington.
The city has to consider what it has in hand and decide how the parks and trails will be developed. That process will involve public consultation, but so far no start date for the park development process has been set.
“There’s a plan to have the trail, but what the parks department wants to do is work with the community, kind of develop really specific kind of site plan, especially for the East Wellington Road parcel and then these lands will all be part of that planning process,” Corsan said.
Parks on the trail will include Maffeo-Sutton Park, Barsby Park, Bowen Park, Buttertubs Marsh and what will become a new park at East Wellington Road.
“In planner jargon we call it a string of pearls, so you have a series of pearls in between the trail kind of connecting you to each of them,” Corsan said.
The Millstone River Greenway will someday run all the way to the source of the Millstone River at Brannen Lake and is one of several proposed trails that will ultimately connect outlying areas through the city.
Others include the Waterfront Trail that will ultimately connect to Departure Bay beach and a trail that will run through Nanaimo’s south end, connecting the Nanaimo River Estuary, Duke Point and other trails in Cedar and Yellow Point.