Korpan-era Asphalt Trail

Rory Rickwood, creator of the Nanaimo Visitor Boycott website, has sent me the information which follows about an environmentally-damaging asphalt trail which now runs from the Nanaimo Ice Centre to Jingle Pot Road, constructed during the reign of former mayor Gary Korpan. I’m posting Rory’s comments here because they illustrate the way Nanaimo city staff and pro-business politicians put the interests of developers ahead of those of other residents and the environment:

In 1999, the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) Foundation put in and registered on the TCT map, Nanaimo’s contribution to the trans-continental trail system. In the marsh areas west of Wakesiah Avenue, the TCT route uses one side of the Buttertubs Marsh Trail, connects up at Jingle Pot Road and Third Street, runs down a path along Third Street, connects to the TCT signboard opposite the Ice Centre, and proceeds in the direction of Vancouver Island University.

The City of Nanaimo put this asphalt trail across the Jingle Pot Marsh (a sensitive ecosystem inventory, which is wrong and was not needed). The asphalt trail runs between two bodies of water (South Marsh and Hank’s Pond) which is an important wildlife corridor, especially during mating season. In the formal response to a petition Friends of the Cat Stream sent to the federal environment minister, the minister took a swipe at Nanaimo for putting in this trail because it divided a wildlife corridor. However, it turns out environmental laws are so weak in Canada, that wayward municipalities like Nanaimo can legally do what they want – and they do.

The Nanaimo City Council-approved Land Use Plan for the area shows a raised boardwalk entering Jingle Post Marsh, which was agreed to by the local stewards. The British Columbia Ombudsman later explained to me that adoption of a Land Use Plan by council motion carries no weight because a Land Use Plan must be approved as a bylaw. However, without consultation and in controvention with the council motion, city staff ploughed in the asphalt trail, calling it the Trans Canada Trail.

I discovered later the asphalt trail was a point of negotiation during the development of the old golf course (property previously owned by Shirley Lance) so that people could quickly get to Vancouver Island University, the Ice Centre, and the Aquatic Centre. The developer agreed to double the size of one of the sidewalks that crosses their housing estate so that it could join up and closely match the width of the marsh asphalt trail.

When I contacted the TCT Foundation they were upset and asked the City of Nanaimo not to call that portion of the asphalt trail the TCT because the TCT Foundation would never put a trail across a wetland. Mayor Korpan reported to the press that staff made a mistake calling it the Trans Canada Trail, but went on to write to MLA Leonard Krog that the trail was good because it was built with the federal government’s Green Municipal Grant funds. When I contacted the federal government, they said “no green funds” were sent to Nanaimo to build the trail. Then Mayor Korpan told the press that city staff had made a mistake telling him green funds were used, while implying that I was trouble making. I know all this sounds complex, but this is what happens in Nanaimo.