The first steps towards establishing an uninterrupted, waterfront trail in the city have been taken, but the process still has miles to go.
Bill Corsan, real estate manager for the city, said that a special, interdepartmental team of city staff members tasked with the project has recently finished the draft terms of reference for a study of the area.
The aim of the city project is to identify ways to complete a waterfront trail between the Nanaimo Yacht Club and the Departure Bay B.C. Ferries terminal, and between the ferry terminal and Hammond Bay Road.
The next step is to hire a consultant. Corsan said. He said city staff will come before council with a recommendation to issue a tender sometime in the fall.
The operating cost for the project is $150,000 and was approved during the 2013 budget process.
Establishing a continuous trail presents some complications, Corsan said.
"There's riparian issues, and in other areas along Newcastle Channel, lands are coming up for redevelopment," he said.
The city also needs to evaluate if certain parts of the trail need upgrades as well as if there are "chokepoints" along the trail length that could impede public use, he added.
Yet another unknown is the extent to which private development could contribute to the long-term vision.
"Most of the seawall, actually, on the Newcastle Channel has been built by private parties, it's not built by the city or the Port Authority," Corsan said.
"We have a complete walkway from downtown to the former Moby Dick (hotel), and right now. .. you can see the Moby Dick's actually starting to build their section of the seawall, as part of redevelopment," he said.
The new Bayshore development on Stewart Avenue has also begun redevelopment on its part of the seawall, he added.
"So you do have this kind of piecemeal approach and really the only way to get the trail on those other lands is for them to redevelop."
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