A wayfinding sign at one end of the Bastion Street bridge in Nanaimo. The city will spend $100,000 on additional wayfinding signs throughout the downtown. (NEWS BULLETIN photo)

Nanaimo councillors endorse a slate of downtown improvement projects

Finance committee gives go-ahead on everything except laser lights for Diana Krall Plaza

Nanaimo city councillors want staff to go ahead with a list of projects intended to improve or beautify the downtown.

At a special finance and audit committee meeting Monday, councillors recommended the city spend $220,000 toward completing a list of more than 20 projects. The projects total more than $1.1 million, but most fit into the city’s already-approved financial plan. The extra $220,000 will come out of the city’s strategic infrastructure reserve.

A city report notes that staff met with “representatives from the Old City Quarter and Victoria Crescent” in identifying projects meant to assist in beautification and public safety.

“These are all short-term projects that we’re really looking at doing between now and next summer,” said Bill Corsan, the city’s director of community development, adding that staff will also be working on a report on potential medium- and long-term projects.

The highest-ticket item on the list presented this week is an accessible playground at Maffeo Sutton Park for $505,000, with community partners contributing $113,000 of that cost.

Among new expenditures, the highest cost is $100,000 for wayfinding signs directing residents and visitors to different areas of the downtown. The finance committee also recommended $25,000 for new lighting at the Great National Land Building on Church Street, $20,000 for VIU students to lead redevelopment planning for Diana Krall Plaza, and $15,000 for landscaping and other “public realm improvements” on Wesley Street. The city also plans to spend $10,000 on a 1.5-metre 3D sign reading ‘Nanaimo.’

“The idea would be to create a Nanaimo sign that we could have down on the waterfront. It would be moveable so we could have it in the downtown core maybe for a night market or other event,” Corsan said. “From a tourism perspective [it will] kind of help brand Nanaimo and give it a positive Instagram selfie look.”

Coun. Tyler Brown said the idea was interesting but said a “far more interesting” opportunity would be possibly using Hul’qumi’num in the signage.

“I just think that language revitalization is such an important part of culture and in particular in an age of reconciliation, I think it could be a neat opportunity and a neat twist on something that’s been done elsewhere,” he said.

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Other downtown improvement projects approved include design work for Tideline Park on Albert Street, support for a mural program, construction-site-style hoarding around the Hilton excavation on Front Street, increased street sweeping and power washing, temporary traffic calming on Fitzwilliam Street, expansion of termporary public art locations, improved lighting at parking lots on Selby Street, crosswalk improvements, and re-painting of street lights.

The only project councillors rejected from the list was decorative lighting and lasers in Diana Krall Plaza. Coun. Don Bonner wasn’t too “chuffed” about the idea and councillors Brown, Ben Geselbracht and others agreed.

“I definitely think lasers are cool, however, potentially unnecessary,” said Geselbracht.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo council won’t OK Front Street bike lanes right now


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