ROBERT BARRON CITIZEN
The long-standing dream of a seaside boardwalk in Chemainus may soon be a reality.
The idea of a boardwalk on the waterfront in the community was endorsed by more than two-thirds of respondents at an open house in September that was held by the Municipality of North Cowichan as part of its Chemainus Revitalization Plan.
Plans for the boardwalk are in their early stages, and concept designs have yet to be made, but the municipality has budgeted $650,000 towards the project in its capital-improvement budget for 2018, with more funding earmarked for the project likely in following years.
The municipality will have to seek the permission of Island Health, which owns and operates the Chemainus Health Care Centre that is on waterfront property, to develop a section of the boardwalk in front of the centre, as well as other impacted property owners, and public consultation sessions will be held with the community as plans proceed.
Kathy Wachs, chairwoman of the Chemainus Residents Association, said a waterfront boardwalk in her scenic community would be a “great addition for both tourists and local people.”
She said a private developer was proposing to build a boardwalk, which also included plans for a marina and a development of seaside condos, in Chemainus a number of years ago, but it didn’t proceed partly because the financing for the project fell through.
Wachs said the project, which was opposed by a slim majority of local residents, also faced problems when Island Health stated it didn’t want condos constructed close to its health centre due to noise and other issues.
She said the municipality should have less trouble with Island Health and other members of the community if the plan doesn’t call for any housing developments on the waterfront.
“I believe the long-term plan would be that a boardwalk may attract someone to want to build a marina in Chemainus, which has long been on the municipality’s wish list,” Wachs said.
“What I see is a beautiful boardwalk with signage pointing out significant landmarks in the area running from the bottom of Oak Beach to Kin Beach, which is about two city blocks.”
Jon Lefebure, mayor of the Municipality of North Cowichan, said the exact designs and final costs of the boardwalk have yet to be determined.
“This is still just in the beginning phases, so figuring out the final budget and the design of the boardwalk won’t likely be on our radar prior to 2018,” he said.