This year the City of Nelson will pave the stretch of Nelson’s waterfront pathway that runs from Save-On-Foods past the sports fields to the west side of Lakeside Park.
“The idea is to improve conditions for people who find it challenging to use a gravel path, and make public spaces usable for everyone,” said city planner Sebastien Arcand at council’s May 25 meeting.
Walkers, wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs, and strollers can be difficult to use on the path at many times of year, he said. The path is difficult to maintain because it is icy in the winter and damp in the spring. And the city’s sidewalk snowplow does not work well on gravel surfaces.
“Opportunities for outdoor recreation (hiking, skiing, mountain biking, etc.) are bountiful in Nelson and surrounding areas,” written materials Arcand presented to council state. “However, they often cater towards the ‘strong and fearless’ segment of the population. The Lakeside Park and waterfront trail is an amenity that is located on one of the very few flat areas in our city.”
This project was approved by council earlier this year based on the expectation that it would receive a $140,000 grant from the federal government’s Healthy Communities Initiative. When that grant application was unsuccessful, city staff suggested taking advantage of the federal and provincial governments’ recent doubling of their Community Works grant for this year. The city already has that grant and the paving project qualifies for it.
The purpose of the May 25 discussion was for council to approve this change of funding, which it did.
Councillor Rik Logtenberg was concerned that a paved path would be an invitation to skateboarders. The city’s chief financial officer Colin McClure said skateboarders tend to prefer hills, and he pointed out that the street and parking lot on the opposite side of the soccer fields is paved and skateboarders don’t use that.
Councillor Keith Page was concerned about bikes and pedestrians not being a good mix and wondered about the possibility of widening the path and putting a dividing line on it.
Arcand said there are trees planted on the inside of the path for most of its length and it would be a significant change in the project to widen it. He suggested cyclists can still use the path in a safe manner with the right signage indicating that it is a recreational path and people are expected to move slowly.
“Centre lines create a conflict point and enforcement issues,” he said. “In the BC Active Transportation Guide they recommend not using centre lines unless it is very busy.”
Councillor Janice Morrison asked about drainage from a paved surface. McClure said the pavement will be drained and contoured.