Departure Bay Beachfront Accessibility & Utility Improvements Project

In 2016, the City of Nanaimo completed upgrades to the existing Departure Bay Beachfront to improve accessibility and enjoyment opportunities of this recreational area.  These improvements supported the Waterfront Enhancement priority of Nanaimo’s Strategic Plan.

This project also supported 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 walkway and car park area before the upgrades were uncomfortable for many users and challenging for people with added mobility needs.

The image below highlights the steep grade of the walkway before the upgrades as well as rendering of the area showing all the issues we were trying to resolve with the improvements. 

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.

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


  • Progress

    Project Updates

    Watch for updates as the project moves forward.

    November 2015: Construction of the project started and is being completed by Knappett Industries (2006) Ltd. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of April 2016.
  • Documents
  • Details

    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.

  • Background

    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.


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