NANAIMO — The City is exploring options to improve access and hopefully spur redevelopment of a piece of prime downtown waterfront land.
Public input is being gathered on four options for secondary access to the south downtown waterfront. Options range in cost from $5 million to nearly $20 million, while another almost $2 million road extension project in the area is set to go ahead in early 2018.
Bill Corsan, the City's deputy director of community development, told NanaimoNewsNOW the only current access is an aging trestle at the end of Crace St. which is nearing the end of its life. The trestle has a weight limit due to deteriorating conditions and is assessed and repaired every six months.
"Right now...it's very poor access. Through the Front St. extension project and this new secondary access, we're hoping to create significantly improved access to this land, which should help stimulate redevelopment."
The Front St. extension, with a $1.8 million price tag, is likely to get underway in spring 2018, Corsan said. It will connect Front St., near the Gabriola Island ferry terminal, through the industrial land to Port Way. A land sale with Seaspan Ferries still needs final approval, however Corsan said he's confident there will be no complications.
The first option for secondary access is replacing the existing trestle with an overpass, at an estimated cost of $8.4 million.
An overpass at the end of Milton St. would run around $17.4 million. While that option is an existing truck route and would provide access to the Port Authority's Assembly Wharf, it's near the high end of the cost estimates and necessary retaining walls would impact the neighbourhood.
The final two options, the most and least costly, focus on Farquhar St. An overpass is estimated to cost $19.6 million and would require a new traffic light at the Nicol St. intersection. An at-grade rail crossing at the end of Farquhar St. would cost $5 million and, according to the City's website, would provide "maximum benefit for redevelopment of lands owned by Snuneymuxw, the Port Authority and CP Rail."
Corsan said about 75 people attended an open house on Nov. 8 and initial responses favoured the cheapest option. A majority of the conversation centred around the overall vision for the land and how the access ties in with other projects, he said.
The access options also link with another high profile project. "All the options...will become the connection of the waterfront walkway back into the community," Corsan said.
No money has been allocated for secondary access in the City's future budgets.
The City bought 26.7 acres of land in the area in 2013 and its phased development was identified as a priority by Council.
Corsan said the goal is to have a report with a recommended secondary access option in front of council by the end of the year. People can offer input online and learn more about the options here.
On Twitter: @domabassi
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