BY HANNAH KING
Nanaimo is a community that values its park space.
In the past four years alone, the City of Nanaimo has acquired a total of 191 hectares of parkland. The total of city managed park land is now 800 ha. Of those 800 ha, 85 per cent is natural green space.
Within our Official Community Plan we have set the goal of ensuring that 90 per cent of residents live within a five-minute walk to a park or trail.
But how do we go about establishing parks? Parkland is acquired in four ways: purchased outright, included within a subdivision plan, through dedication, or by way of a land exchange.
Notable parkland acquisitions in recent years include the land exchange that allowed for the official designation of the Pioneer Forest trails; the purchase of the private land which allowed for the expansion of Neck Point Park; and the combination of a partnership purchase along with a donation of land which resulted in the acquisition of the West Marsh lands next to Buttertubs Marsh.
The decision to acquire park land depends on a number of factors: the natural elements of land and suitability, access and accessibility of the land, the exiting green space inventory in the surrounding area, cultural, historical or environmental significance, and the cost.
Once acquired the park planning process begins and park development can take shape, be it a park play lot, a destination park, a natural park, connection to existing trail system or green belt.
If you are looking to get out and explore one of our local parks be sure to pick up a copy of the Parks and Trails brochure or visit www.nanaimo.ca and use the parks search feature within the Parks, Recreation and Culture section.
There are also a number of ways you can volunteer within local parks – this information is also available online.
If you have questions about our park system, please call the parks planner at 250-755-7506.
Hannah King is a communications specialist with Nanaimo Parks, Recreation and Culture.