Changes in works for Departure Bay walkway

The City of Nanaimo plans to boost accessibility along Departure Bay's waterfront walkway. Early plans are expected this fall.

Nanaimo residents will get the chance to weigh in on a new look for Departure Bay’s beach walkway this fall.

City officials are putting forward early designs for the old walkway this September as part of an effort to gather input from area residents.

The city has $350,000 put aside in its financial plan to give the beach park a facelift, from fixing the pathway slope to building new beach ramps to help boost accessibility.

It’s good news to the Departure Bay Neighbourhood Association, whose members say they’ve been pressing the city for upgrades over the past several years. The path is so badly slanted that people with mobility problems have been challenged to use it, said Allan Davidson, vice-president of the association.

The association has been hoping to see the walkway leveled, as well as new lights, railing and stairs to help spruce up the stretch between Hammond Bay Road and the Kin Hut.

“It’s a pretty busy walkway at times ….and it’s in serious need of upgrading,” said Davidson, adding the city’s recent commitment is an exciting step forward.

The Departure Bay Neighbourhood Plan has highlighted the need for walkway improvements since 2006. The city had put it on its priority list until 2008 when it fell off, possibly because of funding issues, said Jeff Ritchie, the city’s manager of parks and civic facilities. Now new funding has been secured and it’s come time to make improvements to the busy and popular beach spot, he said, adding the city will look into the association’s wish list for the beachfront.

The city’s strategic plan also highlights waterfront enhancement as a top financial priority.

The concept is slated to go public this September in an open house. Ritchie said the city will  have a better idea of cost and design when the project goes to tender next spring.