Nanaimo city council kicks in for improvements at Colliery Dam Park

NANAIMO - Feedback gathered from public input during community workshop in May.

Nanaimo city council has approved a plan that includes a honey-do list of improvements to Colliery Dam Park.

Upgrades include such items as handrails on stairs, refurbishing a sandy swimming beach, new picnic tables and interpretive signs.

The improvements, to be made starting this year and continuing through 2019, were drawn from public input gathered at a community workshop held in May when about 70 people who attended spoke up about upgraded amenities they’d like to see in the park.

“What the focus is, is on making the park more comfortable for people to use,” said Kirsty MacDonald, parks and open spaces planner. “Picnic tables, benches, special event features, normal park amenities, garbage cans and things like, as well as restoring a swimming beach in the lower dam area.”

The city will also survey the location of invasive species in the park for removal to improve the overall health of the ecosystem.

Some features have already been added, such as electrical outlets to the outside of the public washrooms at the lower dam to accommodate outdoor events.

Some trails will be improved as well to provide universal access to park visitors.

“We can’t make all of the trails universally accessible, but one of the goals would be to have some better signage that shows which trails are accessible and which ones aren’t and also look at some of the busiest areas, how to lead people through those and then identify what is and what isn’t accessible … there will also be an accessible swimming beach that was approved by council,” MacDonald said.

The improvement plan is the first master plan for Colliery Dam Park  since the city took ownership from the Harewood Improvement District when Harewood and the city amalgamated in 1975.

Costs for upgrades will be spread out over several years and council will vote to approve those budgets each year.

The most expensive year for improvements will be 2017 at about $196,000.

“Other years will be more around $30,000,” MacDonald said.

Regardless of what improvements are made, Colliery Dam Park is zoned as a nature park and any uses or upgrades must fit within that zoning.

“It is just to remain a nature park,” MacDonald said.