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Departure Bay Beachfront Accessibility & Utility Improvements Project

Project Summary

In the fall of 2015, the City of Nanaimo is planning upgrades to the existing Departure Bay Beachfront to improve accessibility and enjoyment of this recreational area.  These improvements support the Waterfront Enhancement priority of Nanaimo‚Äôs Strategic Plan.

This project also supports objectives identified in the Departure Bay Neighbourhood Plan such as:

  • improve walking opportunities,
  • maintain and improve existing parking, and
  • ensure maximum pedestrian accessibility and safety

The steepness of the existing walkway and car park area can be uncomfortable for many users. It can also be especially challenging for people with added mobility needs like families with young children or strollers; or people using walking aids such as a cane, a walker or a wheel chair. 

The image below highlights the existing steep grade of the walkway and shows a view of what the area looks like today and shows the proposed improvements concept being developed.                                              

(click to enlarge)

The overall project will include several improvements to enhance the area including:

  • levelling parts of the seawall walkway
  • installing new pedestrian access ramps
  • installing new street lights & walkway lights
  • improvements to parking facilities
  • replacement of old storm drain on Loat Street

Due to the cultural and heritage significance of the area, the City is working with the Snuneymuxw First Nation and an archaeological consultant to complete research and onsite investigation work for the project.

The map below highlights the areas where these improvements are planned.

(click to enlarge)

Project Schedule

The onsite archaeological investigation and research is currently underway.

Detailed engineering design work will continue in June and July after the archaeological investigation is complete.  Minimal onsite work is expected during the summer months so as to not disrupt enjoyment of the beachfront.

Construction for the project is currently planned for Fall of 2015, pending the findings of the archaeological investigations and completion of the detailed engineering design.

Project Updates

Watch for updates as the project moves forward.

Project Area History

Departure Bay lies within the traditional territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and historically was the site of a Snuneymuxw winter village and burial ground. 

The Kin Hut was built as a Centennial Project in 1967 and was originally designed as a change house for swimmers.  The present day seawall and promenade dates back to 1969.

Below are a few historical photos of the area courtesy of the Nanaimo Archives.


Today, the beachfront and adjacent foreshore area is a provincially designated archaeological site.  At the south end of the project area near the Kin Hut is a designated unpatrolled swimming area and Kin Park.  The park has a grassy area with picnic tables and benches that overlook both the beach and playground.

Want To Know More?

If you have any comments or questions on the planned improvements, please contact us at 250-754-4251 ext. 4230 or email

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