Regional District of Nanaimo seeks location for transportation exchange

NANAIMO – Memorandum of understanding between RDN and City of Nanaimo for transportation exchange expired.

The Regional District of Nanaimo is still searching for a place to park its transportation exchange.

The regional district inked a memorandum of understanding with the City of Nanaimo in 2013 when the municipality bought 1 Port Dr. on the south industrial waterfront for $3.4 million. At the time, the district was interested in buying a portion of the property with $2 million earmarked for a transportation exchange.

That MOU expired in 2014 and the City of Nanaimo is now eyeing its waterfront property for a multimillion-dollar event centre. There’s not room for both, according to a city-commissioned transportation feasibility study, which instead presents an opportunity for a section of Front Street, next to 1 Port Dr., to be an on-street transit exchange.

The regional district is currently on a month-to-month lease with the city for a transit exchange on Prideaux Street, but wants a longterm facility downtown where studies have shown a transportation exchange would best suit the public, according to Daniel Pearce, the regional district’s acting general manager of transportation and emergency services.

Discussions have ranged from having a transit exchange as well as a larger hub that could see other modes of transportation like taxis, a float plane or other busing companies.

“The MOU didn’t have any guarantees by any means,” said Pearce, adding it’s a natural part of land development and siting a transportation exchange is a tricky thing, he said.

“We’ll be actively still talking to the City of Nanaimo and the planning and engineering staff as well as with B.C. Transit and maybe potentially looking at … if that facility goes ahead how we coordinate with a facility at that location 1 Port Dr. and/or looking at other privately owned lands we can possible build a transit exchange on.”

City manager Tracy Samra said at a recent public meeting the use of a transit hub on the property was “sunset” a few years ago and hasn’t been in planning for quite some time.

She said there’s consideration of locations of expanding the hub but there are other landowners such as the Nanaimo Port Authority that may express interest.