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Waterfront pathway to graduate from gravel to pavement in city bid to expand recreational opportunies

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
May 27th, 2021

The city will be calling on its Lakeside Park recreation partners to accomplish the task of paving the waterfront path after it was denied a federal grant for the project.

After the City of Nelson had its Healthy Communities Initiative Grant — in the amount of $240,000 — denied recently, the city elected to turn to its regional district partners to fund the budget.

But the project did raise some concerns around the virtual council table. Coun. Rik Logtenberg noted one city resident had concerns that paving the gravel path would increase the need for speed.

“The point was raised for not paving it was it prevents skateboarders from tearing it up on the route,” he said. “Are we fine to make it more accessible and then, in essence, make it less accessible because people are going to be clipped by skateboarders?”

Ultimately, the city wants to improve it and conditions for people who might have trouble using the gravel path, said city chief financial officer Colin McClure.

“The point of writing the grant was to make it usable for everyone, that’s what we were aiming for,” he said.

In spring the current path is in rough shape and, when it is frozen, it is hard to maintain.

“At the end of the day, walkers will say the bikers are going too fast, and biker will say walkers are taking too much space because they are three wide,” noted city planner Sebastien Arcand.

“We can put some signage up that it is a shared path.

“I wouldn’t want to stop not improving this because it might cause an issue with one group. This is an improvement for most and, at the end of the day, we are hoping a minority of users will not cause problems for the majority of users.”

McClure said the ability to send out the sidewalk plow and sanding it would be more beneficial with a paved path than the gravel one.

Coun Keith Page did not have a problem with skateboarders but, instead, motorized wheels that are zipping along sidewalks and paths in the city.

“Do we have the opportunity to make this path wider and then segregate them out?” he asked.

“I think we are seeing speed issues through out the park but can we make this a metre wider and then mitigate the concerns?”

That’s certainly ome of the questions we can ask of the vendor who will be doing this, McClure said.

The tramway and parking lot path might be a better venue for that segregation since the waterfront path has too many trees along it to widen.

Arcand said not to make it too wide.

“If you put a centreline in the expectation is walkers would have to stay to one side, and it creates more problems than it solves,” he said.

Council directed staff to proceed with the paving of the Lakeside Park pathway using Community Works fund to replace the unsuccessful grant funding. As well, staff are directed to make a formal request to the other participants in Regional Parks Service No. 202 requesting a portion of their Community Works funding towards the paving of the regionally-used Lakeside Park pathway.

Moving ahead after ‘no’

In the city’s most recent financial plan approval was given for paving a section of the Lakeside Park path, in addition to some public art projects in the park. The combined projects were part of a grant application the city applied for.

However, oversubscription and limited grant funds shelved the request. But city staff felt it was important to move forward with the paving portion of the project and requested using Community Works funding to achieve this.

Community Works funds could contribute up to $140,000 of the cost of the pathway paving, a city staff report from McClure stated.

As well, the city receives annual operating funding from the RDCK Regional Park Service 202 in recognition of the Lakeside park, sports fields and pathway being regionally used.

“With this in mind, coupled with the RDCK also getting a double Community Works Fund payment in 2021, it is recommended that the city approach the participants in this service to assist by providing some of their additional funds towards the paving of the pathway project,” McClure wrote.

The need for black top

COVID-19 has amplified the need and importance of public outdoor spaces and non-

membership based recreational assets, McClure stated in his report.

Although outdoor recreation  —hiking, skiing, mountain biking — opportunities are bountiful in Nelson and surrounding areas, they often cater towards the “strong and fearless” segment of the population, he said.

“The Lakeside Park and waterfront trail is an amenity that is located on one of the very few flat areas in our city. Although not quantified, it has become apparent that use of this amenity has increased significantly during COVID-19, as it is an easy and relatively accessible place for people to safely meet and recreate,” McClure said.

But the unpaved surface is difficult to maintain — damp in the spring, icy in the winter — and is not barrier-free, he added.

Paving it would create a four-seasons recreational asset that is accessible to all ages and abilities.

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