NANAIMO — Extending the Waterfront Walkway to the Nanaimo Cruise Ship Terminal could be a reality shortly with Seaspan Ferries Corporation preparing to leave the downtown waterfront.
Seaspan Ferries commercial manager Dave Makay told NanaimoNewsNOW they plan to move out of their Wellcox Rail Yard location “likely by the first week of May,” and merge with their Duke Point operation.
Mayor Bill McKay called the move a “game-changer” as the City works toward redevelopment plans.
“With Seaspan moving off, that moves our plans forward probably 15 or 20 years,” McKay said.
City of Nanaimo real estate manager Bill Corsan said while the City owns the nearly 27-acre south downtown waterfront land, they need to purchase nine acres of right-of-way owned by Seaspan. He projected an interim walkway and extended Front St. could be done “immediately” ahead of the formal property transfer.
McKay said indications a Waterfront Walkway extension could be in place shortly will be well received.
“They (residents) love and they enjoy the waterfront and they want to have access to it,” McKay said. “This is now going to give us probably another kilometre worth of access to their beautiful waterfront.”
Corsan expected the formal acquisition of the Seaspan site would be completed by the end of this year in conjunction with formalized land use plans. He noted most of the environmental work required for redevelopment has been completed.
“The departure of Seaspan is a significant event,” Corsan said. “It puts the City in a position now where we can reimagine this property.”
Corsan said the City will follow through on a partially finished Master Plan for the Wellcox property, which works within the guiding principles of the South Downtown Waterfront Initiative.
“It's up to the community to decide how they want to see these lands redeveloped and Council (to) give us direction as to how they want to proceed,” Corsan said.
The City bought the 26.7 acre Wellcox Rail Yard property in 2013 for $3.4 million.