Work to build the longest waterfront walkway on Vancouver Island is progressing.

The popular path will now be extended by more than a kilometre between the BC Ferries Terminal to Gabriola Island and the Port of Nanaimo.

The city says it will be ready this summer but farther along the path, there is a problem.

A 350-metre section along Departure Bay was identified as a priority during public consultations but already cost estimates have jumped significantly from an initial $3.5 million to more than $10 million.

“Obviously as a responsible council we’re taking a second look at it because of the increased costs,” said Leonard Krog, Nanaimo’s Mayor. “That’s a significant amount of money for a fairly small stretch of the proposed waterfront walkway.

The costs jumped because of improvements to the original plans including an extra 100 meters of walkway, lamp standards and cycling height railings.

The cost of labour and materials has also gone up.

Now the city is considering other options. An engineering consultant says there is likely a better plan.

“They said we think there are ways of doing this project that are less expensive which are more environmentally friendly which still meet the goals of having a walkway for the public to use and we think it could be delivered in a more timely manner and reduce a lot of the project risks,” said Bill Corson, Nanaimo’s deputy director of community¬†development.

But some on the waterfront today said they just want the project to get done well and they’re not concerned about the cost.

“Me personally there’s no cost [concerns] when it comes to beautifying the waterfront,” said Teri Smith, a Nanaimo resident.

“There’s nothing new about the costs. It’s always tripling [with] government projects,” said Roland Hartluv, a Nanaimo resident who said he just wants see the project get done.

The city will need to get cost estimates on other options but it says completing the Departure Bay section is still a priority as it works on extending the walkway.

The city’s report about the cost estimate jump can be found here.

Kendall Hanson