City of Nanaimo policy will require sidewalks in urban industrial areas

NANAIMO – City council has approved a new policy to develop pedestrian networks in industrial areas, like Boxwood Road.

A new city policy will pave the way for sidewalks in industrial developments.

Nanaimo city council has adopted a policy to ensure urban industrial areas are no longer built without sidewalks. According to Gordon Foy, the city’s transportation and traffic engineer, urban industrial lands have changed from being manufacturing-oriented and large parcels to mixed use spaces with commercial buildings and residents trying to walk through the area.

People have questioned why places like Boxwood Road and Boban Drive haven’t seen sidewalks. Foy noted concerns in some areas about people walking within major roadways.

“The nature of industrial developments has changed and as a community we’ve moved in terms of our priorities around alternative transportation and how we get to and from work … those two things, it’s driving us to see a need for at least a pragmatic basic pedestrian network within industrial areas in the future,” Foy said.

Until now, industrial areas have been exempt from city requirements to construct sidewalks, but under this policy a pedestrian network will be created when there’s new development or redevelopment. Duke Point will be the only exception because it still contains large parcels and heavy industry.

The odd sidewalk could also be added through the city’s infill program, although Foy doesn’t anticipate many. The municipality builds sidewalks based on potential use and public risk and industrial areas tend to generate lower volumes of traffic and pedestrians. It would be a lower priority than a major road near a school, for example, Foy said.

Coun. Diane Brennan supported the policy, which she said meshes with the transportation plan.

“These urban industrial centres aren’t way out in the boonies. They’re in areas where people live, so people would use them to get from neighbourhood to neighbourhood perhaps or neighbourhood to shopping.”

City staff will work on bylaw changes to reflect the new policy.