A widened pathway, lighting and other improvements promise to convert a trail through Bowen Park into an urban cycling commuter link as part of a sewerage upgrade project to be carried out in 2021. (City of Nanaimo image)

A widened pathway, lighting and other improvements promise to convert a trail through Bowen Park into an urban cycling commuter link as part of a sewerage upgrade project to be carried out in 2021. (City of Nanaimo image)

Nanaimo sewer upgrade project will transform trail through Bowen Park

City asking for input into project’s design

People might not realize it, but a major sewer line runs under a trail in Bowen Park, and infrastructure upgrades there will result in significant work at the park.

The Millstone Trunk Sanitary Sewer, built from 1976-77, extends 12 kilometres from Brannen Lake to Nanaimo Harbour and increasing demand for its services has outpaced its capacity.

Portions of the sewer line, which handles about 40 per cent of Nanaimo’s sewage, have been replaced as the city upgrades the highest-priority sections. A project to replace a 925-metre section of the existing 600-millimetre sewer line with a 900mm one through Bowen Park will be carried out between May and September 2021.

City staff reported on the project, which has moved from the preliminary to detailed design stage, at a governance and priorities committee meeting Monday.

The existing multi-use trail that lies over top of the sewer line will receive major upgrades that include widening the path to four metres from three metres, installing lighting, and reducing steep grades to improve accessibility. Connections to major cycling and pedestrian routes at Buttertubs Drive, Howard Avenue and Lenhart Avenue will be upgraded as well.

“This really takes the trail from a recreational day-use trail to an actual urban transportation link,” said Chris Lang, project engineer, during his presentation. “The look and feel of that would be similar to the Georgia Greenway with the light fixtures and the spacing.”

Access to Bowen Park trails, the disc golf course and recreation centres will be mostly unaffected by the construction work.

The renovated trail will be more stable and safe in an area of the park where it passes along a steep slope, which is shifting and causing ever-widening cracks in the trail’s surface.

“As you go west to east the slope grades really steepen up there to the point where that slope is moving, as evidenced by the existing trailway,” Lang said. “The retaining wall there is failing and every year the asphalt just gets a little farther apart and every year we just put a little more asphalt on it, so the trail itself just needs to be stabilized through there.”

The city is now looking for public input for suggestions on the final design of the project through the project information page at this link.

The current cost estimate for the project is $3.45 million.

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