Waterfront bus exchange could revitalize Nanaimo’s downtown

NANAIMO – The city transportation advisory committee chairman thinks a transit exchange in the heart of downtown would be beneficial.

The topic of a transportation hub along the waterfront is again the topic of discussion in Nanaimo.

A multi-mode transit exchange has been previously mentioned in regards to the city’s purchase of the Wellcox railyard. The current bus exchange has been situated at Prideaux Street, relocated as part of the Port Place mall expansion.

Coun. George Anderson, city councillor, Regional District of Nanaimo director and transportation advisory committee chairman said the move was temporary but the exchange has been in the location for over five years. The topic has also been broached in a pair of recent reports.

Having the transit exchange in the heart of the downtown would be beneficial, Anderson said.

“Having a bus exchange in our downtown core is one of the aspects that I believe is going to help with our revitalization of the downtown … for me, I think it’s a great plan to move it down there and we all need to get together and work with B.C. Transit to make sure it happens sooner, rather than later,” said Anderson.

While no concrete plans are in place, there are calls to build a transit exchange on the Wellcox lands in Nanaimo’s waterfront industrial area.

The City of Nanaimo purchased the Wellcox railyard at Port Drive in 2012 with an eye toward turning it into a transportation hub.

Two recent reports have pointed to the area as a potential site for the bus exchange as well. The regional district transit future plan said planning was underway to identify a exchange in the area, and the South Downtown Waterfront Initiative report identified a transit hub in the area as a topic of interest.

“We’ve talked about having it where Island Pallets is and that would be the location we’re hoping that it would be, so essentially, it’s just getting all the plans and the design ready and starting with building the project,” Anderson said.

Daniel Pearce, Regional District of Nanaimo transportation operations manager, said the regional district is still in discussions with the city, although there is do direct movement on “proceeding with an exchange.”

“Through the downtown waterfront committee process, that’s where it basically came out talking about a transit exchange or a multi-modal use transportation hub, on those Wellcox yards,” Pearce said. “The next process specifically would fall with the direction from city council and direction from the regional [district] board as well.”