RDN reopening Whalebone stairs as quick as possible

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, August 1 2017

The beach access stairs off Queequeg have been re-opened by the Regional District of Nanaimo, with the stairs at Bluewhale Lookout being the next targeted by RDN Parks staff for work.

Four beach accesses (the other two being off Joyce Lockwood Community Park and Hummingbird Community Park) in the Whalebone area were closed in early July by the RDN as the stairs failed a geo-technical assessment, as well as an inspection from the Municipal Insurance Association.

The lower landing of the staircase at Joyce Lockwood Community  Park was damaged by the past winter’s storms. Applications will need to applied for with DFO before the RDN will be able to replace the staircase. Derek Kilbourn photo

At the Gabriola Parks and Open Spaces Advisory Committee (POSAC) meeting on Monday, July 24, Parks staff said the recommendation had come through that all four staircases be closed till upgrades, repairs or replacements be made. 

The re-openings are being done in order of what can be accomplished the quickest, with Queequeg being the easiest to fix.

Parks Planner Elaine McCulloch said the trail to Queequeg was engineered and opened.

“The two we’re hearing the most about is Bluewhale and Queequeg. 

“The approach is done, the stairs need to be redone. The replacement will be aluminum. So they are hoping, depending on how fast our contractor can get them in, Bluewhale can be done this fall.”

POSAC members asked how Joyce Lockwood was not a priority, given the popularity of the beach below that set of stairs.

McCulloch said Joyce Lockwood will take the longest, and will involve applications to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Howard Houle, Regional Director for Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge, DeCourcy islands) said the issue with Joyce Lockwood was the foundations - being built on stumps or other materials which were no longer going to support the stairs.

“Right now,” he said, “the RDN is trying to get as many [accesses] open as we can.”

McCulloch added, “And at the same time run the process for Joyce Lockwood.”