Nanaimo councillors recommend new parking lot at Westwood Lake
Westwood Lake will become more accessible as the City of Nanaimo is getting ready to embark on the first phase of improvements at the park.
At a finance meeting Wednesday, March 16, councillors voted unanimously to recommend that council approve the final concepts for Phase 1 Westwood Lake Park improvements in 2022 and add Phase 2 improvements to the 2023-27 draft financial plan.
The first phase deals only with the park’s first parking lot and access. The first parking lot will be expanded to add 36 stalls to bring the first parking lot’s capacity to 95 stalls, and the phase will also include pedestrian safety improvements. Once finished, the first parking lot will have two access points along Westwood Road instead of just one.
Kirsty MacDonald, city parks and open space planner, said initial parking lot designs would have involved cutting down half a dozen “significant” trees, but the final concept would necessitate the removal of just one significant tree.
Phase 2 will involve improvements to the first beach area, including an expansion of the beach by about 800 square metres. Improved washroom facilities are being planned, but not envisioned in the first two phases of the project.
Coun. Ian Thorpe said considering the planned improvements as a whole, “there’s something here for everybody,” and Mayor Leonard Krog called the plans “exciting, practical, accessible and beautiful.”
Ian Thorpe asked why improvements to the washroom facility aren’t part of the initial phases, and Richard Harding, the city’s general manager of parks and recreation, said there is more work involved in designing a building close to a lake.
“A washroom building always does cost a lot more than the public and council and everybody else thinks it’s going to be,” Harding said. “And we want to make sure with this building that we do build that it’s really going to serve the park for years to come, so it will be a bit bigger, and of course we also want it to be inclusive in many ways.”
City council previously added $971,000 to the 2022-26 financial plan for Phase 1 of Westwood Lake Park improvements. Work is slated to begin in late summer or fall.