Price drops on Linley Valley park purchase

NANAIMO – City continues to try to secure two more parcels to preserve as park land.

A failed attempt to secure land has dropped the price tag for an expanded Linley Valley park.

The municipality has been bulking up its inventory of green space in north Nanaimo’s Linley Valley, scooping up 51 hectares since officials announced a new park acquisition program earlier this year.

While it plans to purchase another two spreads, the total spent to expand the urban park is expected to be less than original estimates.

The City of Nanaimo had agreed to spend up to $7.6 million to acquire 91 hectares of green space in Linley Valley West, creating what would be Nanaimo’s largest urban park. But according to a staff update, they were unsuccessful in a bid to buy a  $2-million, 20-hectare property on Tanya Drive because of a previous offer.

“It’s what I would call a nice-to-have piece, but I think the goal of this was to kind of create a continuous park that protects the valley,” said Bill Corsan, adding the city did that when it bought land on Hillside Avenue.

The new Tanya Drive owner also plans to develop the property, which will include connections and dedicated park, Corsan said.

“So at the end of the day we will get some parkland just probably not as much as we would have by purchasing the whole thing outright.”

Nanaimo city officials announced a series of option agreements for six separate properties earlier this year, which spanned 91 hectares in Linley Valley West. The move was made in-camera and was anticipated to see the city spend up to $9 million on land purchase, park planning, trail construction and environmental restoration. Now the city is pegging the purchasing price at $5.7 million with another $720,000 set aside over the next seven years for park planning and improvements.

“I’d say we’ve made good progress, we’re three-quarters of the way through the plan that council set out,” Corsan said.

City staff members will look for council direction on the purchase of two properties on Vanderneuk Road and Stronach Drive and an alternative purchasing deal is expected to be proposed by the owner this week. The park planning process is anticipated to get underway next year.