Nanaimo Waterfront Walkway

Nanaimo’s waterfront is one of our city’s greatest assets, and the existing waterfront walkway showcases its natural beauty. Many in the community have expressed a desire to expand the walkway and improve connections from existing trail and bike networks to the walkway. 

In December 2017, Nanaimo City Council endorsed the Nanaimo Waterfront Walkway Implementation Plan which outlines how the waterfront walkway can be upgraded and expanded from Departure Bay to the Nanaimo River Estuary.


Want To Know More?

Download a copy of the Waterfront Walkway Implementation Plan  

You can also check out an interactive map of the proposed waterfront walkway using the City's latest GIS Technology.

For all the latest walkway improvement project updates, see the Progress tab below.

If you have any comments or questions, please contact us at 250-754-4251 or email
  • Progress

    Improvement Projects Updates

    1. South Downtown Waterfront

    In 2019, construction work was completed of approximately 1km of interim waterfront walkway on 1 Port Drive.  The construction work included new asphalt surfacing, new LED trailway lighting, new benches and waste receptacles.  The walkway is now open to the public and allows users to walk or cycle between downtown and cruise ship terminal. Although the walkway is only built to an interim standard at this time, it allows users to access an area of the waterfront that was on private land and inaccessible. 

    2. Interim Shipyard Detour

    Engineering design work has been started for the interim detour around the Nanaimo Shipyard at 1040 Stewart Avenue.  The construction of the project is being combined with other underground utility upgrades in the area.  Tendering of the combined construction projects is currently scheduled for Fall 2020 so construction can be completed in Spring 2021.

    3. Departure Bay

    In early 2018, the City retained a design consultant team to complete site investigation work and a Functional Design for the Northfield Creek segment. The scope of this work included a 7m wide elevated walkway structure that extended from the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal to the White Eagle Terrace trail that comes down from the Cilaire neighbourhood.  The completed report provided an estimated construction cost that was significantly greater than the conceptual cost estimate included in the Implementation Plan. This resulted in the City postponing the start of detailed engineering design until estimated costs where studied further. 

    In December 2018, the City engaged  a consultant team to complete a value engineering  study to review the Functional Design and identify opportunities to reduce construction costs and risks, and improve constructability. The study identified cost savings opportunities with the elevated walkway design, but also presented 3 alternative walkway design concepts that, in their opinion, could significantly reduce cost and risk, and provide greater opportunity for environmental enhancement.

    In May of 2019, the City awarded a contract to have a Feasibility Study and Functional Design Report completed to further investigate the 3 alternative walkway design concepts that where presented in the value engineering.  This contract will review the feasibility of an on beach walkway from BC Ferries Departure Bay Ferry Terminal to Battersea Road. Work is well underway and the goal is to have the functional design report, including preliminary details and costs, complete by late spring 2020.  The findings will then be presented to Council and further direction on the project will be sought at that time. 

  • Documents
  • Details

    The Vision is to create a continuous walkway from Departure Bay to the Estuary.

    The completed Waterfront Walkway Implementation Plan provides for a continuous multi-use pathway that can be enjoyed by pedestrians and cyclists, and is the centrepiece of a thriving and sustainable community.  

    The Implementation Plan was prepared through collaboration with community members, key stakeholders, experienced professionals and City staff to ensure the goals and desires of all are considered.

    The stakeholder and community engagement program included:

            5 Open Houses (over 1,400 attendees)

            2 Public Surveys (over 2,600 respondents)

            1 Design Workshop (over 25 community participants)

    Technical aspects of the project involved a review of the guiding policies and existing conditions for each pathway section, preparation and evaluation of options, and refinement of the options with community and City input.

    Check out an interactive map of the proposed waterfront walkway using the City's latest GIS Technology

  • Background

    The City of Nanaimo is a waterfront community on the east coast of Vancouver Island with a population of over 90,000.  The natural beauty of Nanaimo’s waterfront forms the backbone of the community, bringing residents and tourists together to experience one of the City’s greatest assets. The waterfront is a commercial and industrial hub with shipyards, fishing docks, marinas, yacht clubs, and ferry and plane terminals. The area provides employment and integrates residential and recreational uses to create an active and vibrant waterfront.

    Nanaimo and its surroundings are part of the ancestral home of a migratory Coast Salish people, the Snuneymuxw. The Snuneymuxw – meaning “The Great People” in the Hul’qumi’num language – lived in several waterfront villages along Nanaimo’s shores from Departure Bay to Newcastle Island, where they found abundant food, fresh water and winter shelter. Great cedarplanked longhouses were constructed in various locations along this stretch of Nanaimo’s waterfront, from the Nanaimo River Estuary to Departure Bay. The proposed Waterfront Walkway will travel through these important Snuneymuxw village sites and it will link present-day parks, shipyards, marinas, transportation terminals and residential developments.

    The importance of the Waterfront Walkway has been recognized by Council and the community, with the expansion of the existing walkway highlighted as a key priority in the Transportation Master Plan, OCP, and the 2016-2019 Strategic Plan Update. The Waterfront Walkway Implementation Plan will be used to expand and improve upon the existing sections of walkway that were built incrementally over the last 30 years. 


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