NANAIMO — Securing millions of dollars offered up by a federal funding program should allow the City to complete two new pieces of the hugely popular waterfront walkway within the next year.
Nanaimo was given conditional approval of $3.8 million from the federal gas tax fund to use towards the walkway expansion project. In order to cash in on the offer, the City must secure "all regulatory approvals, required leases, agreements and right of way acquisitions" within the next year.
The immediate plan is to complete two new sections by 2019:
- An elevated boardwalk connecting the existing section adjacent to the Departure Bay ferry terminal to a trail at White Eagle Terrace in the Cilaire neighbourhood for a projected $3.5 million.
- An interim pathway on City owned land at 1 Port Drive from near the Gabriola ferry terminal to the assembly wharf at an estimated cost of $800,000. The work will be done in conjunction with the extension of Front St. this spring.
Deputy director of community development Bill Corsan told NanaimoNewsNOW he's confident the City can put all the pieces together in time to ensure they can take advantage of the gas tax contribution.
He said as detailed design work moves along, it's becoming clear the cost for the two new sections will be higher than the $4.4 million the City included in its 2018 budget. Without the federal funding, staff likely would have needed to go back to Council for more money, Corsan said.
He said the proposed walkway is one of the most popular projects he has worked on during his time with the City.
"The response we got from the community was really quite overwhelming and very positive. Definitely people demonstrated this was a project they wanted to see go forward," Corsan said.
The City planned to complete several other "quick win" sections before 2020, including multiple infill pieces along the Newcastle Channel.
Over the next decade, the City will take a phased approach to completing a continuous 13 km walkway from Departure Bay to the Nanaimo River Estuary. The total projected cost is between $30 and $41 million.
Gas tax money was flowing to other mid-island projects as well on Friday. The Regional District of Nanaimo received $6.1 million for a pair of projects, including their pollution control centre upgrade. The City also took home $500,000 for a facilities and park amenities condition assessment program.
On Twitter: @domabassi
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