NANAIMO — After stopping work due to concerns from a small but vocal community group, the City of Nanaimo has decided to continue with the Georgia Greenway project.
The planned construction of a four metre bridge across the Chase River, as part of the larger 3.1 km. Georgia Greenway path, was halted in late March after area residents raised concerns about the damage the bridge would do to the area, specifically three trees which were slated to come down.
After cancelling existing tenders and going back to the community for their input, the City voted Monday night to continue with the project after the months long delay.
Project manager Kurtis Noble said they brought in an independent arborist to see if the three trees were worth saving and rerouting the project.
“His findings said there's currently decay within the trunks of the trees, that they pose a high risk to the Greenway users and the bridge structure itself if they remain after the bridge is installed,” he told Council.
If the trees were to remain after the bridge was installed, Noble said they'll likely fall anyway within two years.
After the delay, the City included the Georgia Greenway in various open houses to see what the larger community had to say about the project, even though there had already been community consultation in 2017 as the project was being developed.
Noble said community feedback was positive, with roughly 75 per cent of people endorsing the existing plans.
“It creates a safe space for users of all ages and abilities and is supported by the majority of the public,” he told council.
Greg Sorenson, spokesperson of the Keep the Georgia Greenway Project “Green” group, told councillors he and others were disappointed to see no new ideas or developments presented by the City.
They had requested a change to the official plans allowing for a smaller bridge.
“At this point in time, we haven't seen anything that's different. Everything's been exactly the same. The recent survey questions which were sent out to the public, we found misleading and evasive. We're worried the only options were yes and no, as opposed to a proper response.”
Only coun. Bill Yoachim was opposed to restarting the project.
The delay and additional analysis cost the City an extra $7,000. Phase one of the project is expected to cost roughly $1.1 million.
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