RDN aiming to start Village Way trail in next year

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, October 16 2019

The Regional District of Nanaimo Parks department is now saying that breaking ground on Huxley Park for a skatepark in 2020 is unlikely, even if a provincial/federal grant is received before the end of 2019.

Yann Gagnon, Manager of RDN Parks and Elaine McCulloch, RDN Park Planner for Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge, Decourcy islands) were reporting to the Area B Parks and Open Spaces Advisory Committee (POSAC) on October 7.

Gagnon and McCulloch said the hope had been to receive the grant before the federal election began - which may have allowed the construction to begin.

McCulloch said those running the grant program will wait till after the election is over.

“I think we’ll have an answer at the end of the year....the likelihood of getting into that conversation in 2020 is low. I think the door is closed for 2020 construction.”

Gagnon said if the grant is not received for the Huxley Park project, RDN staff would revisit the funding plan and look for other ways to fund the project - but it would not mean the cancellation of completing the development of Huxley Park.

But even if the funding does come in this year, he said, construction in 2020 is, “very unlikely, we never say never.”

McCulloch said when the RDN and community groups originally targeted 2020, “it was always conditional - we were led to believe we’d have the [grant] information by the fall - that has changed.”

Vanessa Craig, RDN Director for Area B, said the timing on going out to tender has to be right as well. Putting out to tender at different times of the year can mean increasing or decreasing the end cost of the project.

“No matter which project we’re looking at, we want to get the best price for it.”

Gagnon agreed said, “when you tender out, the time of year, can make a difference - and we’re conscious of that - and we wait to have the best window.”

Village Way Path moving forward

The other project currently on the RDN plans is moving forward with the Village Way - an off-road pathway connecting from in front of Wishbone all the way up the north side of North Road to Tin Can Alley.

Gagnon said in a way, delaying the Huxley Park by a year may help with completion of the Village Way, as the RDN would be hard pressed from a capacity perspective to complete both projects at the same time.

He planned to be meeting with staff from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure the week after Thanksgiving.

So far, the plans and agreements are still in draft form.

“We’re working on the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] which is the first step we have to take before we put more time and energy into that.”

The directive Gagnon has received was to start construction in 2020. 

“I’m working to that.”

The trail is to be located on land that is 100% under MOTI jurisdiction.

Asked if there is a role for the Islands Trust to play, Gagnon said he has been in discussion with Islands Trust staff and there would be an application that would need to go in for a permit - he did not say what kind of permit - but the entire trail is located in the Village Commercial Devleopment Permit Area.

Gagnon said the hope is to start construction of the trail before school begins in the fall of 2020, and be finished by December 2020.

But, he said, “We don’t have tenure on the land, and we don’t have permits.”

As for funding the Village Way, Director Craig said she was meeting with RDN staff after Thanksgiving to discuss the funding.

Asked if rain would delay construction, given how wet September was this year, Gagnon said, “what we’re doing usually works in wet weather.”

“It’s fairly complicated because of the driveways and entrances, but the work is straightforward.”