The city will look at ways to allow more people to play at the beach at Maffeo Sutton Park.
Beach expansion and access are among potential short-term projects identified in the updated Maffeo Sutton Park draft master plan, presented to councillors at a committee of the whole meeting Nov. 27 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
Richard Harding, city parks, recreation and environment director, and Kirsty MacDonald, parks and open spaces planner, presented the updated draft plan with short- and long-term ideas for the site.
MacDonald said some of the possibilities for the next few years include two beach projects. The city is considering moving the back the wall behind Sway’ A’ Lana Lagoon, expanding that beach area and improving access. MacDonald said there’s also an opportunity to create access to the beach below the seawall along the Queen Elizabeth Promenade in the direction of the Nanaimo Yacht Club.
One other short-term project could be a partnership with groups wishing to help build an accessible playground to replace the current playdock.
As far as longer-term plans, another park addition could be a new amenity building – the city wants to triple washrooms for women and double them for men – with storage space and possibly a permanent concession. Other projects might include creating and widening trails for cycling and other uses, terracing banked areas to make them more user-friendly, and reconfiguring parking.
“The Maffeo Sutton master plan update is a vision that requires some substantial funding and partnerships. It is really a vision that this would be probably a 15-year process…” MacDonald said. “The goal of the plan has been to keep it flexible, though, so that when opportunities exist, we are ready to collaborate with partners if they come up, and try to keep lower-cost items in the initial phases and some of the longer-term elements with higher costs would be reflected in future capital plans.”
Some councillors suggested Maffeo Sutton Park planning has been a slow process.
“This is an old plan coming back in front of me,” said Coun. Jim Kipp. “I’ve seen all the machinations and it hasn’t changed.”
Coun. Sheryl Armstrong said councillors want to see dollars and figures tied to the plan’s components.
“If we keep studying plans, then we’ll be back here 10 years from now looking at the same plans. So myself, I would like to see it move forward with some numbers coming back to council, and priorities,” she said.
Harding said he thinks this is the last iteration of the Maffeo Sutton Park master plan.
“We think we’ve captured a lot of … what the public have wanted and have been consistent [in saying] in surveys and such…” he said. “We just want to do one more quick test to make sure we’re right, because it is such a sensitive park and there’s so much passion about it.”