Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nanaimo's Terminal Avenue, "Continues to Act as a Barrier that Disconnects the Old City from the Downtown Core and the Waterfront"

Nanaimo's Terminal Avenue ravine has been recognized for many years as having a negative impact on the city. It is technically still part of the Trans Canada Highway system and prior to the construction of the Island Highway Parkway, which allows inter city traffic to bypass the city, was the only north/south route for all Island traffic (transport and logging trucks included). It was claimed when the Parkway was constructed that the redirection of this traffic to the bypass would usher in a bright new era for the renewal of the downtown which had gone into decline as shopping mall and sprawling residential development stretched thinly along this 30km ribbon.

Fifty years after Jane Jacob's common sense observations Planners and Traffic Engineers are reluctantly coming to the realization that traffic behaves as if a gaseous substance. You can move it and shift it temporarily but it will return to fill vessels available to it. The Terminal Avenue highway is, if anything, more destructive to Nanaimo's economic development and to the neighbourhoods it slices through than ever. Reclaiming this stretch as shared public space will require calming the traffic and the elimination of the inter city commercial traffic.

These 2006 before and after sketches are by Nanaimo architect Jolyon Brown.

The area is currently undergoing a remediation study initiated by the Downtown BIA. The Downtown Urban Design Plan and Guidelines document addresses the Terminal Avenue ravine and its adjacent precincts. From that document: The design of Terminal Avenue with its unique curving geometry, continues to act as a barrier that disconnects the Old City from the downtown core and the waterfront. However, any proposed design changes to the streetscape will require extensive consultation with the road's current authority, the Ministry of Transportation.

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