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Terminal & Commercial


Before the highway was created the primary pedestrian entrance to the Victoria Crescent area was this intersection. Now, the highway severely discourages pedestrians from accessing the study area from this intersection, and the built form across this barrier does not provide enough incentive for people to cross the highway. This limits the economic potential of both the study area and the retail segments of other parts of the downtown.

The downtown is divided into four or five distinct retail sections none of which benefit from being separated from each other. The study area represents one retail section often referred to as the Crescent. The other segments would be Commercial Street, Port Place Mall, The Old City Quarter and the Front Street waterfront. None of these fragments represent a substantial shopping experience limiting the amount of time spent in our downtown area and the number of people willing to come to our downtown. Any effort that can successfully reconnect these fragments of shopping experience while adding attractive retail space would be a boon to the economy of downtown.

This part of the study area is rightly considered to be a gateway. The buildings on the other side of the street need to be attractive and inviting, motivating those on the north side of the highway to cross the street. This can be done by designing the facades with a high amount of transparency. From the far side of the street one needs to see into the buildings, observe colorful merchandize and see people shopping inside. Some suggestions for civic markets have been put forward in the past. Indeed we could have two civic markets on either side of Commercial Street. Together they would be large enough to draw interest from the greater Nanaimo area and contribute a great deal towards making our downtown a destination.

One could also narrow the highway and reduce the width of this intersection to make crossing quicker, and safer. A few years back a proposal to change the highway to a road from Woodhouse to Milton and then a three lane street from Milton to Comox was studied and presented to the council of the day. The change would have made downtown a much more significant destination; a place to drive too and not through and very likely would have improved the fortunes of the many merchants and restaurant owners in our city centre. Unfortunately, it didn’t get the support it needed. While I would very much like to see that plan reconsidered, I think that perhaps it was a step too large to accept.

Two smaller steps might be more appropriate for now: First, we could reduce the speed limit to 30 kph from Milton to Comox. Second, change the width of the travel lanes for that section of highway to 12 feet (3.66 m) on the outer lanes and 10.5 feet (3.3 m) for the inner lanes. The slower traffic would quiet the road considerably and address a number of safety issues, but it would also narrow the highway and make crossing at this intersection easier, safer and more pleasant for pedestrians.

A third step might be completed later; which would make the highway into three lanes with a middle lane being a left hand turning lane. Another possibility would involve turning to of the highway lanes into a dedicated tram way or rapid bus lanes.

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