Nanaimo city council decided this week to add adjacent green space to expand Colliery Dam Park. (NEWS BULLETIN file)

Editorial: Park will keep its character

Expanding Colliery Dam Park ended up being an easy enough decision for Nanaimo city council

Nanaimo citizens made it pretty clear over the past few years that they didn’t want Colliery Dam Park to change. Well, we think they’ll like this change just fine.

Nanaimo city council decided this week to add sections of Greater Nanaimo Water District Land to the park inventory. Expanding Colliery dam park ended up being an easy enough decision for city council, as it should have been all along.

The city has been taking a look at a total of 97 hectares of GNWD property, with a 17-hectare slice discussed at the council table in recent weeks.

Councillors didn’t find immediate agreement, as some wondered whether the land, close to road and sewer, had potential to be developed, especially in such a way as to address challenges with availability of affordable housing. While it’s a positive that city council paused to make that consideration, there are probably places that make better sense for housing complexes, locations that better fit with the city’s other goals of creating hubs of density with shops, services and walkability.

Now, council will turn its attention to the remaining 80 hectares of the water district lands. There seems to be some appetite to immediately designate all of that land as park, too, because it will go to public consultation and that process is going to return results so predictable that it hardly merits the staff time. That said, there is the question of Nanaimo Search and Rescue’s negotiations for new digs on the property, and public consultation provides opportunities to think about different kinds of park uses and partnerships. A park isn’t the same for everyone – we play in different ways, and visit various parts for various purposes.

It’s worth pointing out this newest park land – and the pieces to come – aren’t exactly new. They’re already criss-crossed with walking and biking trails and are a recreation amenity in their own right.

So even though Colliery Dam Park might grow and change a little bit, it’s bound to keep its character.

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