The City of Nanaimo plans to search for new routes into the south industrial waterfront, as the only public access to the land continues to deteriorate.
A new access study is on the to-do list of city officials, as they consider the question of how people will come and go from the south industrial waterfront and its property on 1 Port Dr.
It’s not a new issue.
Four months after the city purchased a share of the downtown waterfront for $3.4 million in 2013, politicians called for staff members to pursue options to access the site with the need to address a decades-old wooden trestle in the near future.
Herold Engineering, hired by the city to look at the condition of the trestle, noted then that the structure is at the end of its life and would need to be decommissioned by 2016, a city report from 2013 shows.
Repairs to strengthen the bridge and replace decayed wood have extended its life by two years, according to city staff members. But the question today is the same as it was then – does the city rebuild or find new access?
Replacement of the trestle is budgeted at $6 million.
Poul Rosen, the city’s senior manager of engineering anticipates more work next year to replace some decayed timber, and further review, but he compares it to a car.
“If you have an older car, more and more things start to go on it and it becomes economically less advantageous to keep it going. You might as well renew it or do something else,” he said. “We are getting to the point with this structure as we’re having to invest quite a bit of money into it to keep it going, but really we have to do that until we develop another option.”
The access study is driven by the aging trestle, as well as the development potential of the south industrial waterfront and coincides with planning for 1 Port Dr., according to Dale Lindsay, the city’s director of community development.
The city recognized when it bought the property there would need to be additional access to facilitate development and in lieu of replacing the trestle, he said. The focus at that point had been on an extension of Front Street and at-grade access from the north. While the concept isn’t without challenge around right-of-way, it’s still considered the preferred option. Lindsay said it goes through city-owned property and provides a logical connection to downtown.
This new study would come up with more detailed designs, look at other opportunities to access the land and costs.
“What the study would look at is given the size of the land and the amount of development potential down there, secondary access is likely required. It’s looking at where that could be provided,” said Lindsay.
It’s not known when a request for proposal will be released for the work.