Village Way Trail dead in water with current MOTI proposal

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, January 31 2017

The Village Way Trail appears to be dead in the water after many years of anticipation.

The trail was to have been an off-the-road pathway running along the north side of North Road from in front of Wishbone to Tin Can Alley.

The idea being to provide off-road pedestrian space through the Village Core.

Originally, the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) was going to fund both the construction and maintenance of the pathway. Funds for the construction would have come out of Community Works (gas tax) funds for Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge, DeCourcy). Maintenance would have been through the Area B Parks.

The latest proposal through the Transportation Ministry (MOTI) is to instead widen the north shoulder of North Road.

That according to MOTI officials and Howard Houle, RDN Director for Area B.

While there have been other issues discussed between RDN and MOTI staff, Houle said the end issue is that MOTI doesn’t want “construction in their right-of-way.”

As to who would fund what is essentially a widening of the public roadway, Danielle Pope, with MOTI communications, said, “If the project proceeds, the RDN would be responsible for the shoulder widening along one side of North Road to accommodate pedestrians (both sides would not require widening). At this time, the RDN has not discussed timing of their proposed work with the ministry.”

Houle said the RDN has not consented to anything yet and is not supportive of the current proposal, especially if the RDN ends up funding both the construction and maintenance.

Houle said, “It’s not worth it for what we get,” citing that there would be no real improvement of safety for pedestrians and other non-vehicle users of North Road.

One of the driving examples of the pathway was pedestrian traffic on the weekends during the summers - particularly between Folklife Village and the Farmers’ Market.

Putting the pathway as an extension of the road, according to Houle, would just lead to people parking on the pathway. “MOTI has said they would put those little plastic barriers all the way along there. That would be gone the first time some person on a Friday night decides to see how many he’d like to take out with his truck.”

The RDN is estimating the cost to do the pathway as currently proposed by MOTI would be between $250,000 and $300,000. 

Houle said, “That would come out of Community Works funds; there are other community infrastructure we can spend that money on. 

“The part that choked with me is they [MOTI staff] have done several site visits, they’ve walked it. It is only recently they’ve decided this.”