Pioneer Park opening concludes land swap

NANAIMO – City acquired three hectares at May Richards Bennett Pioneer Park in a land exchange with Nanaimo school district.

An expanded May Richards Bennett Pioneer Park officially opened Friday, marking an end to a two-year land swap.

The City of Nanaimo celebrated the growth of its north-end park with the Nanaimo school district this week.

An extra three hectares was added in the land exchange between the two public bodies, which agreed last year on an eight-property swap. Pioneer Park was among the last properties to be signed over on Jan. 24 this year, along with six hectares next to Oliver Woods Park. The school recently picked up land at Pauline Haarer and Bayview elementary schools.

“Today’s celebration is a great example of how the City of Nanaimo and School District 68 can partner to achieve positive outcomes for the community,” said Mayor John Ruttan in a press release. “This additional land will greatly improve recreation opportunities at this park that will benefit our citizens.”

Phil Turin, secretary-treasurer for the Nanaimo school district, called it an example of how two public bodies can work together for the “good of the community at large.”

Pioneer Park, near Dover and Dickinson Roads, now spans 11 hectares of green space including trails and an off-leash dog park.

As part of the land exchange, the city has also taken on another 5.5 hectares of land next to Oliver Woods Park, which requires city crews to now provide road access and servicing to the new land and a neighbouring development. The Linley Valley project, which includes a roundabout  at the corner of Linley Valley Drive and Turner Road, will start in late March.