Third Street - Utility & Complete Street Upgrades


Annually, the City of Nanaimo launches into a series of capital improvement projects, driven by the needs for growth, enhancement of existing assets, and alignment with the city’s long-term goals. The strategic vision for these projects is outlined in the 5-Year Capital Plan, which identifies and, when practical, consolidates projects close in proximity and scope. This strategy maximizes resource use and achieves a unified outcome across the board. Heading into 2025, the Third Street corridor is set to receive a range of infrastructure upgrades. These projects have been thoughtfully merged into one comprehensive initiative, aligning with Nanaimo’s goal to establish a sustainable, multimodal network that supports various transportation means, not just cars, but also includes bicycles, pedestrians, and public transit. This network is designed to be inclusive, catering to the community’s diverse transport needs, and contributing to a more connected, accessible city.

Pedestrians try a future crosswalk on Third St between Howard Ave and Pine St in the concept rendering above.

The enhancements to the Third Street corridor, an essential route from the Parkway to Nanaimo's downtown area, represent a significant advancement for the city's transport facilities. The project is designed to improve safety and convenience for all - pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, and drivers. In addition to upgrading the street-level infrastructure, there's a critical need to refurbish the aging underground utilities – the storm drains, water pipes, and sewage systems that have served their time.

This complete street transformation will:

  • Address the corridor's aging storm, water, and sewer infrastructure.
  • Ensures comfortable and effective mobility for people of all ages and abilities;
  • Improves safety, especially for those walking, cycling, or taking transit; and
  • Enhances public amenities in the corridor, makes the streetscape more inviting, and provides connection to other trails and city facilities.

By doing so, the Third Street corridor's upgrade is poised to redefine it as more than a major thoroughfare but as a shared public space that is both functional and enjoyable for the entire Nanaimo community.

Constructing these infrastructure projects simultaneously also achieves significant cost savings through the strategic deployment of the contracting team. With the crew already deployed and in action, we eliminate the need for repeated construction setup, which is both time-consuming and costly. This efficiency not only expedites the completion of the projects but also ensures a more economical use of funds by cutting down on the usual expenses associated with multiple construction phases.

Click the above image to open up the full concept plan.


  • Watermain Improvements:  Replacement of approximately 260m of watermain (505 Third Street to 421 Third Street), as well as 220m of watermain on Fitzwilliam Street (Machleary Street to Milton Street) due to size, material type, age, and capacity.
  • Sanitary Sewer Improvements:  Replacement of a 80m section of high-density polyethylenepipe (HDPE) of sanitary sewer near 335 Third Street which has deformed due to sub-surface settlement.
  • Storm Utility Improvements: Replacement of approximately 260m of storm (505 Third Street to 421 Third Street) due to the road widening and infilling of the existing fragmented culvert/open channel ditch sections.
  • Corridor Mobility Improvements for all users: The City of Nanaimo aims to increase the safety and comfort for people who walk, bike, take transit, and drive. These improvements include new sidewalks, raised crossings and separated bike lanes, through the extent of the project.

Intersection Improvements: Bike crossings and crosswalks for Third and Howard, and Pine and Third.


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  • Progress


    Preliminary DesignComplete
    Public ConsultationComplete
    Detailed DesignFebruary 2024
    TenderingSpring 2025
    ConstructionLate Spring 2025
  • Documents




    Nanaimo Transportation Master Plan

    Council, staff, and residents have supported complete streets principles dating back to 2002. Over 17 documents and plans have been created over the past 16 years, referencing complete streets or speaking to the principles of creating a greener, sustainable, and multi-model network that accommodates and moves people - not only motorists. 

    In 2014, Nanaimo’s City Council approved the Nanaimo Transportation Master Plan (NTMP), which included recommendations to create complete street standards and to expand the cycling network.


  • Details



    Q1: Complete Streets?

    What are Complete Streets?

    • “Complete Streets” is an international initiative and design approach that requires streets to be planned and operated to enable safe and comfortable use for all ages and abilities.
    • Complete Streets move people, not just cars.
    • The initiative recognizes that streets have different roles, functions, and characteristics depending on their context.
    • A Complete Street aims to provide balanced mobility for a range of users including pedestrians, bicyclists, vehicles and transit in a shared roadway experience.
    • Nanaimo's Council, staff, and residents have supported complete streets principles dating back to 2002.


    Q2: How are decisions made?

    As part of the decision-making process decisions are made based on three components:

    • Technical Requirements - what infrastructure best meets the area's needs, where it can fit, and what impacts it will have to the immediate and surrounding area
    • City Policies - how City initiatives and activities are implemented
    • Public Input - local knowledge of the community

    Q3: Why Change?

    Why are the road upgrades along this project required?

    • The Third and Fitzwilliam Street Corridor is a major road connection from the Nanaimo Parkway to Downtown Nanaimo. It is identified for active transportation upgrades, pavement renewal, water distribution system replacement, stormwater management upgrades, and accessibly improvements.
    • This project combines all of the planned needs into one comprehensive project.
    • The City’s goal is to provide a greener, more sustainable, multi-modal network that accommodates all user groups safely and efficiently.
    • Nanaimo is one of the fastest growing communities in BC. This means the City must plan ahead to ensure sustainable modes of transportation are incorporated into today’s projects for future uses.

    Q4: Sidewalks?

    Will there be sidewalks on both sides of Third and Fitzwilliam Street?

    • Yes!
    • The design proposes continuous sidewalks on both sides of the road for the extent of the project from Howard Ave to the railway crossing at Fitzwilliam Street.
    • The aim is to provide a comfortable and functional environment that is universally accessible for pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

    Q5: Cycle Tracks?

    Are there going to be designated routes for cyclists on Third and Fitzwilliam Street?

    • Yes!
    • The cycle tracks are designed to strengthen connections to destinations like the NAC and NIC from Downtown Nanaimo and vice versa.
    • This project proposes continuous routes for cyclists on both sides of the road.
    • Based on public feedback from other complete streets projects, the preference is for cyclists to be physically separated from the road. This is being accommodated where possible.
    • Physical separation encourages comfort for users of all ages and abilities.

    Q6: Accessibility?

    What accessibility features will the design include for more vulnerable road users?

    • Tactile warning surface indicators at all crosswalks and bus stops to aid the visually impaired.
    • Raised crossings will be incorporated at local roads to provide a safer and more consistent surface for wheel chairs and other wheeled modes.

    Q7: Safety?

    a) What safety features will the design include?

    • A lot of the safety improvements incorporated into the Third and Fitzwilliam Street project are from the Provincial Government’s BC Community Road Safety Toolkit, created in the hopes of working towards Vision Zero in communities throughout the province.
    • Pedestrian & Cycling Safety Improvements included in this project:
    • Roadway Safety Improvements included in this project:

    b) Won’t cars block the sidewalk and bike lanes at local roads?

    • The same conflict between a car and the pedestrian or cyclist exists today. The only difference is the car will visibly be entering the sidewalk instead of the user stepping out onto the road. See Raised Crossings above.

    Q8: Parking?

    Will existing parking along Third and Fitzwilliam Street be removed?

    • Parking needs are currently being assessed based on adjacent land-use development; however, the primary use of a collector street is to move people.

    Q9: Encroachments?

    Will the improvements be utilizing the City right-of-way up to the property line?

    • The proposed design uses the full road right-of-way to provide the corridor improvements.
    • Where possible, the design has meandered sidewalks.

    Q10: Narrowing?

    Will Third and Fitzwilliam Street be narrowed?

    • The design will maintain a 2-3 lane cross-section with one lane in each direction and a centre turn lane where needed.

    Q11: Maintenance?

    How will sidewalks and boulevards be maintained?

    • As per the City’s current bylaw, snow clearing of sidewalks is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner.
    • The City is expecting that, similar to the current conditions today, that boulevard maintenance will be the responsibility of the adjacent homeowners.

    Q12: Environment?

    Will the improvements have environmental impacts?

    • Environmental impacts during construction will be mitigated through the preparation and use of an environmental protection and stormwater management plan.

    Q13: When?

    When will this be built?

    • Construction of Third Street (Howard - Pine) will start in Spring 2025.
    • Construction of Fitzwilliam is unknown at this time.

    Q14: Construction Inconveniences?

    How will this affect my property or business?

    • All business and property accesses will remain open during construction; we will work with you ahead of time if we foresee there being an issue. 
    • Construction is never convenient and can often cause frustration, so we ask residents and businesses (including clientele) to please exercise patience and understanding as the crews work to renew the utilities and roadway.
    • Everyone is always in a hurry. Please account for extra time when navigating the site and respect signage and flagpersons.
    • If you're commuting, please consider using alternate routes to avoid construction completely. 
    • Please be respectful towards workers. Abusive conduct or comments will not be tolerated.



  • Background

    The Third and Fitzwilliam Street Corridor is a major connection from the Nanaimo Parkway to Downtown Nanaimo. Third Street provides further connections to a number of facilities including the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, the NIC and NDSS as well as to a section of the Parkway Trail network.

    The Third Street to Fitzwilliam Street corridor also runs adjacent to one of Nanaimo's oldest neighborhoods, and connects to the historic downtown core. Near the Third Street and Pine Street intersection, at the crest of a hill, stands a historical Nanaimo Landmark, the Mount St. Peter Roman Catholic Church.

    St. Peter's Cemetery is a rare, tangible link with Nanaimo's Roman Catholic heritage and speaks to the earliest ecclesiastic, social and spiritual history of Nanaimo. The first recorded burial took place in 1876, although the church was established in Nanaimo at least 15 years earlier. St. Peter's Cemetery is the only surviving single-denomination graveyard in Nanaimo. Still in active use, St. Peter's Cemetery is important as a communal, spiritual space and as a publicly accessible, outdoor history museum.

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