Regional District of Nanaimo staff to examine parking at Mount Benson Regional Park

NANAIMO – Parking options for Mount Benson Regional Park and Witchcraft Lake Regional Trail explored.

Parking options for Mount Benson Regional Park and Witchcraft Lake Regional Trail will be something Regional District of Nanaimo staff examine following its Tuesday regular meeting.

The regional district board approved a motion directing staff to explore a long-term parking solution for the park and trail. Based on information collected between July 17 and Aug. 5, an average of 54 people used the park per day. Yet only parking for 24 vehicles exists at the Benson View Road area.

The report listed seven options, but none seemed to be a perfect solution.

Expanding the existing east parking area would require the assistance of an engineer and a biologist for design. Permission from the B.C. Transportation Ministry and the City of Nanaimo would be needed. Expansion of the area west of the trailhead would require removal of trees.

Adding extra road-side parking at the south of Benson View Road would require a culvert and fill and while there would be minimal tree removal, staff said it wouldn’t be to the liking of residents.

Parking on a shoulder at the north side of Benson View would be “intercepted” by driveways and telephone poles. Road congestion wouldn’t be reduced by much and hikers would have a lengthy journey to the trailhead.

Shoulder parking on Benson View Road’s south side would also result in a long hike to the trailhead, said the staff report.

Parking on Crown land east of the last residence, on the south side of Benson View Road, would be ideal, said the report, except for the fact that the topography, described as “steep” and “ravine-like” limits parking development.

An option for a Northwood Drive undeveloped right-of-way has issues with terrain at it is described as “steep, narrow and rough logging road.”

The final option involves purchasing property from adjacent landowners, but requires further investigation.

Bill Veenhof, regional district board chairman, said he anticipates the report coming in 2017.

“It’s very clear parking is an issue there and we’re in a sense a victim of our own success and the board is focused on resolving the parking problem in some fashion that is acceptable to the local residents,” Veenhof said.