Million-dollar trail hinges on land negotiation

This city map shows the proposed trail route from Rathtrevor Provincial Park to the city’s Community Park. - Submitted Photo
This city map shows the proposed trail route from Rathtrevor Provincial Park to the city’s Community Park.
— image credit: Submitted Photo

Representatives of The Nature Trust are waiting to hear about a proposed million-dollar trail between Rathtrevor Provincial Park and the City of Parksville’s Community Park — and until they do, the proposed project is dead in its tracks.

Both the city and Regional District of Nanaimo have authorized their staff this week to begin work on plans for the trail — dubbed a multi-use greenway — that could cost the city upwards of $1 million. That’s an early estimate, however, as city chief administrative officer Fred Manson said council’s approval this week means staff can develop a more detailed plan.

There are a couple of  prerequisites, he noted, including an application for a grant from a $30 million provincial government recreational infrastructure program and the need to negotiate with The Nature Trust (TNT), as the proposed route crosses their land.

Tom Reid, TNT’s Vancouver Island conservation land manager, said he’s aware of past talks about the idea, but was not aware of the city and RDN’s decisions to proceed and awaits contact.

“Our concerns would be to review (the plan) in regards to our conservation needs,” he said. “There are a lot of pressures on the property they are hoping to use.”

The route would run from Rathtrevor park, through the San Pareil residential area, cross a proposed footbridge over the Englishman River and connect with the Community Park via Nerbus Lane. A significant portion of the trail would cross TNT-owned land at the base of the Flats — part of the river’s estuary.

That portion of land, Reid said, is also part of a provincial wildlife management area and would require the province’s involvement as well.

“Then, it might only allow for passive public use,” he said.

TNT already works with other jurisdictions on trails. For example, Nanaimo’s Buttertubs Marsh is on TNT land. Such uses, he continued, cannot conflict with TNT’s mandate for conservation.

Early ideas for the greenway include lighting on portions within residential areas and the entire length being paved. Manson said detailed plans are in the works, but should they win a grant, the trail would have to be completed in a three-year window.

Parksville councillor Marc Lefebvre said he is opposed to paving, especially since it is being touted as an eco-sensitive greenway. Manson said the trail would have to be accessible to as many people as possible — including wheelchair users — hence the paving option.

Manson confirmed that as the project advances, there would be a public consultation period.


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