Editorial: Park expansion a tempting idea

A lot of people liked Colliery Dam Park just fine the way it was, but maybe they wouldn’t mind if it becomes bigger and better.

A lot of people liked Colliery Dam Park just fine the way it was, but maybe they wouldn’t mind if it becomes bigger and better.

The city will consider expanding the park onto adjacent property as it looks at uses for 97 hectares of land off of Nanaimo Lakes Road.

According to a staff report tabled at Monday’s city council meeting, at least 52 hectares could have value as parkland. There will be consultation with the community before any decisions are made, and several stakeholders might have ideas, including the Colliery Dam Park Preservation Society. Vancouver Island University may be interested in studying forestry there, the Nanaimo Mountain Bike Club sees potential for trails and Nanaimo Search and Rescue has been asking for land there for a new operations base.

Some of these uses could complement each other, with a common desire to maintain the land as green space. We expect that the city will come to that kind of conclusion, as the location and the state of the land probably limit its potential for development. Probably, its greatest value to citizens lies in its possibilities as a recreational amenity.

We won’t regret adding to our inventory of parkland, especially if we’re presented with visions of how this property could be developed into a place that we can access and would wish to access.

And if staff is correct in its determination that large parcels of the land aren’t suitable for parkland, then that suggests there will be room for compromise among stakeholders. We look forward to hearing ideas and discussion.

Other park plans and projects, such as Beban, seem to be more pressing, but we know priorities can be fluid. Each of us is free to decide which places in Nanaimo matter most. For the land next to Colliery Dam Park, the public process is underway. All of us can now have a say in what path we take through the woods there.