Mount Benson Regional Park. (News Bulletin file photo)

Mount Benson Regional Park. (News Bulletin file photo)

Parkland purchases expand and connect Mt. Benson and Westwood Lake parks

Deal for close to $4 million involves 100 hectares of land ‘from lake shore to mountain top’

The City of Nanaimo and the Regional District of Nanaimo will expand two parks after purchasing 100 hectares of land from Mosaic Forest Management.

In a joint press release, the two local governments announced the land acquisition that will grow and connect RDN’s Mount Benson Regional Park and the city’s Westwood Lake Park, offering the public permanent access to the recreational corridor that goes “from lake shore to mountain top.”

The land consists of three blocks of second-growth forest, with the RDN purchasing two blocks totalling 79 hectares for close to $3 million, while the city bought a 20ha block for $1.25 million. The price was based on timber and land market values and was established, in part, via independent land appraisal.

With completion of the deal, Mount Benson park is now composed of 292ha of forested land, along the upper northeast slopes of Mount Benson, said the press release, while Westwood Lake Park is now 208 ha, situated at the foothills of Mount Benson.

Mount Benson park offers panoramic views from Nanaimo to the Strait of Georgia, while Westwood Lake Park has multi-use trails, a freshwater lake and picnic and playground areas, said the press release, and government and forest company representatives were pleased to announce the transaction.

Tyler Brown, Nanaimo councillor and RDN board chairperson, said people will benefit from the deal, whether it’s today or tomorrow.

“Expansion of Mount Benson Regional Park will provide the region’s residents with lasting recreational and social benefits while helping to preserve natural areas for future generations,” he said.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog added that the deal will add to the area’s beautiful scenery.

“Nanaimo is known for its spectacular natural assets,” he said in the press release. “Over the pandemic, we saw an increase in use of our parks and trails. This work … will expand our recreational experiences for users, and meet a council priority, which is to protect and enhance Nanaimo’s natural environment.”

Mosaic Forest Management, for its part, said it was pleased to work with both levels of government.

“This is a great example of industry and government working together to achieve positive outcomes for local communities,” Jeff Zweig, Mosaic president and CEO said. “It is part of Mosaic’s broader initiative to facilitate recreational opportunities in and around our working forest.”

Both the city and regional district will collaborate to update signage, noted the press release.

RELATED: City looks to improve Westwood Lake Park amenities

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