Nanaimo staff pitch park upgrades at Departure Bay

NANAIMO – New design work for the Departure Bay seawall will address an angled waterfront walkway.

Long-awaited changes to Departure Bay’s beachside park could be on the horizon.

City staff will pitch a redesigned Departure Bay seawall to residents this spring, as part of a $687,000 upgrade proposed for this year’s budget.

The plan is to renew streetlights, culverts and straighten out the slope of the waterfront walkway, which has presented difficulties for seniors and people using wheelchairs and strollers. It’s a fix the neighbourhood association has been calling for to improve accessibility since 2006.

The city is also looking to replace a storm sewer at the end of Loat Street where it could create a more organized parking space.

Signs with concepts for the park will be at the seawall in three weeks to a month and there will be a website for people to provide feedback, according to Poul Rosen, the city’s manager of engineering.

“It’s going to change a very important space in the city, we want people to … support that and agree it’s a good change,” he said.

Neighbourhood association member Jennifer Davidson said her group welcomes the upgrades, which it’s been asking a long time for. The sidewalk’s slant has meant people with mobility issues, like older people, can’t walk it and those with strollers have difficulties, she said.

A typical sidewalk has a grade of two per cent, but the city reports that along the Departure Bay sidewalk there are spots that hit 10.

Fixes to the sidewalk had previously been on the books in 2008 but were taken off to reduce budgets. City council approved early design work for the seawall, but has yet to pass the budget that includes the entire scope of the Departure Bay initiative.

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