Monday, March 25, 2013

The Ongoing Effort to Reclaim a
Walkway from a Driveway

The car rules in Nanaimo. From the grandest high speed thru-way to the smallest pedestrian pathway. I have been pointing out to the Island Corridor Foundation and the Heritage Planner at the City and anyone who'll listen (including my poor long suffering wife who has to hear me go on about this stuff) that our newly restored Train Station features a "walk"-way that connects to the Rail Corridor Trail. Car access is not restricted so of course people with business at the Station (including a great Irish Pub style restaurant) park in this area. I have finally received clarification  that the problem is in fact merely semantics. The folks who park here are apparently in fact "accessing" the Train Station building. This is a permitted use, parking is not. What we have I'm told is an "access driveway".  Here's examples of an email thread where logic and the English language itself are put under considerable strain:

Subject: Fwd: Train Station
Date: 25 March, 2013 2:36:59 PM PDT
To: Chris Sholberg
Cc: Gary Noble , "" , Fred Pattje , Island Corridor Foundation

Hi Chris… a quick follow up. Parking continues in what of course is a "walk"-way not a "drive"-way daily. Here's a scenario which might finally get my ever-so-reasonable point across: 

I park there. I'm told in probably a very Canadian courteous way that "Mr Murphy" you can't park here" 

"I understand" , says I, "now please tell me" (Canadian courtesy again) " how is it that other citizens can park in this publicly funded walkway?" 

"Ah, well, you see Mr Murphy. they're not parking, they're accessing." 

"That clears it up and thank you. I just need to find another name other than parking for me to leave my car in this public funded pedestrian pathway."

It can't be a driveway. Everyone or no one can park there. Only bollards across the Selby St entrance solve the problem. A gallon of yellow paint on the curb along Selby St solves all other access issues.

To get this simple point across the negative public relations this can generate is needless. Create some good will in the neighbourhood. Place bollards across the Selby St entrance.


Subject: Re: Train Station
Date: 6 March, 2013 1:22:56 PM PST
To: Chris Sholberg <>
Cc:, Island Corridor Foundation <>

Hi Chris, I knew you would, as you always have, address any neighbourhood concern brought to your attention so certainly no need to apologize. And thanks for looking into this… I will want to pursue this further though I imagine my reasons for doing that might be somewhat hard to understand for my neighbours — the folks at the ICF and the pub. (Ccd to Jim Dias: hi Jim, if you're in the neighbourhood some time let me know, perhaps we could meet and discuss and walkabout… Could you also forward please to Graham Bruce?)

I don't tire of saying that I am a big fan and supporter of both enterprises. And it's not about the parking. It's about the function and design of this space: badly needed pedestrian friendly public space in the inner city.

I hope people I'm appealing to here will consider the notion of a suburban-style "driveway". The driveway on the large suburban lot works great for parking cars and getting Grandma as close to the front door as possible when she comes for Sunday dinner. But as a function at a public building, it just can't operate the same way at all. The notion of "access driveway" needs a second thought: Was a plan presented to the Design Advisory Panel for an access lane that didn't include an exit route? Not at the one I attended early in the process.

So a "driveway" invites parking. (You referred to the "temptation". I'm reminded of the comic years ago who claims to have seen a large billboard that had one message in large type: "Absolutely no throwing stones at this billboard!")  And a "access driveway" needs an exit. If more that one vehicle wants to pick up or drop off at the same time, chaos and deadlock are the result. How do you get back out?

There are so many problems created by a not-well-thought-out design for this space and the seeds are planted for more to come. But to be clear: the problem is not a cranky geezer who lives across the street and has nothing better to do than "squeal" on his neighbours who park in this area. These problems are all solved by bollards. How will this posted parking restriction be monitored (by cranky geezers god forbid) how will it be policed and enforced, what are the penalties? And of all the issues confronting management on a daily basis should this one be on the to-do list? Bollards, and these and other problems vanish.

The solution lies I would suggest in understanding the function of this stretch: it is primarily pedestrian access through the site to the station and across the tracks to the rail corridor trail. And it's a wonderful addition to the walkability of this neighbourhood. Bollards (adjustable allowing for emergency and maintenance vehicles and for one tour bus at a time dropping off and picking up in an organized efficient fashion.. creating a workable access lane with a practical exit function.)

So, at the risk of being an even bigger pain in the ass I do want pursue this. I'd like to somewhat formally ask that you review whether the no parking sign is in contravention of the heritage restoration permit and respectfully ask that it be removed. Bollards of course make it unnecessary. Also, I want to ask the Design Advisory Panel to give an opinion (after the fact ,I know) about what they thought the intended purpose of this area was and how it was to work.

Bollards, and a bonus — everyone gets a cranky geezer off their backs!


On 2013-03-04, at 9:15 AM, Chris Sholberg <> wrote:
Hello Frank, I apologize for the late response to your email – I checked in with the ICF folks on this – specifically Jim Dias ( who I believe is their operations manager, and he confirmed that no parking should be occurring on what is considered an access driveway – he figures it is likely the owners or employees of Fibber McGees who are parking there – which I guess is a natural temptation.  Jim noted that he will talk to them again to confirm that parking must occur elsewhere.  I can appreciate what you are saying with regard to the ultimate solution being bollards, unfortunately, they have no appetite to voluntarily put in bollards and I am not in a position to insist on this requirement given it was not envisioned in the original Heritage Alteration Permit that was issued for the building renovations and landscape plan.  My understanding is that the access driveway was always intended as a temporary drop off location and loading/unloading area, so hopefully based on Jim’s discussion with the restaurant owners this is all you will be seeing here in the future.



Frank Murphy said...

Subject: E&N Train Station
Date: 7 April, 2013 4:09:20 PM PDT
To: Gary Noble
Cc: Chris Sholberg , "" , Island Corridor Foundation , George Anderson ,

Hi Gary, I need clarification from the Design Advisory Panel on their understanding of the use of the paved area at the E&N Train Station. My enquires to the Island Corridor Foundation unfortunately have not had the courtesy of a response. Not very neighbourly. Anyway, Let me know if there's a formality to appearing at a DAP meeting or just to have you put me on the agenda. The area as you probably know, paid for with public funds, is used for parking for a privileged few. Untenable on principle and as importantly a key piece of walkability in Nanaimo's most walkable neighbourhood has been thoughtlessly assigned to the car. Over time I will be also seeking clarification from the several funding bodies who have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the restoration of the station if they feel that this private use can in any way be justified. But fist, I need clarification from the DAP.

Thanks in advance, hope to hear from you soon

Frank Murphy

Frank Murphy said...

Update April 26, email to Councillors Greves, Kipp —

Subject: The most walkable neighbourhood in Nanaimo
Date: 26 April, 2013 2:10:44 PM PDT
To: "" ,
Cc: Gary Noble , Chris Sholberg , Bruce Anderson , George Anderson , Island Corridor Foundation

Hi Ted and Jim,

Terrific to run into you chaps on separate occasions while walking in my neighbourhood this week. The most walkable neighbourhood in Nanaimo: the Old City Quarter. And speaking of walkability, here's some background on my concern re the pathway connector at the E&N Train Station that has been referred to as an "access driveway".

The Ongoing Effort to Reclaim a Walkway from a Driveway

It's Just a Small Sign. But…

I've asked for clarification from the Design Advisory Panel and the Planning Department for clarification if in their view the use of this area can in any way be justified as a "driveway". I've asked the Island Corridor Foundation to address my concern. I've not had any response from the ICF and it's approaching 2 weeks since I was informed that the Planning Department were looking into this. I've asked to appear at a DAP meeting to convey to them my concern. I've not had a response from the Planning Department to that request.

The only reasonable solution I can see is adjustable bollards placed across the Selby St entrance; welcoming pedestrians and all non-motorized mobility through the site and connecting to the Rail Corridor Trail while allowing access for emergency and maintenance vehicles.

If you agree, please let your Planners and the ICF know and let's find a solution that adds this key portion of public space to the walkability network of the Old City.

Thanks —

Frank Murphy

Frank Murphy said...

Emailed received from Planner Gary Noble Friday April 26:

From: Gary Noble
Subject: RE: The most walkable neighbourhood in Nanaimo
Date: 26 April, 2013 3:59:57 PM PDT
Cc: George Anderson , Ted Greves , Chris Sholberg , "Bruce Anderson" , "''"

Hi Frank,
Island Corridor Foundation will forward an e-mail to you next week. The e-mail relates to a site visit Chris Sholberg, Bruce Anderson and I had with Janice Roberts Wed. April 24/13. Your concerns were discussed. The City does not have a pedestrian right of way over the paver access and as a result a pedestrian access cannot be mandated. Noting this constraint we discussed other options with Janice. Janice is considering the options and will discuss them with you next week.

The Design Advisory Panel does not receive delegations. DAP reviews presentations from development permit and heritage alteration permit applicants only.

Regards Gary

Frank Murphy said...

It's Just a Small Sign. But…

Frank Murphy said...

Update May 7, 2013 —

Subject: Hello again everyone
Date: 7 May, 2013 12:18:15 PM PDT
To: Chris Sholberg , Bruce Anderson ,, Gary Noble ,, "" , George Anderson , Ted Greves

Hello again everyone. While I wait to hear from the Island Corridor Foundation, let's recap:

The terrace area at the E&N Train Station is identified in error as a "driveway". The error was included in the landscape architect's plan and was not caught and corrected by the Design Advisory Panel.

The use of this area as a driveway and/or for on-site tenant parking is contradictory to the letter and the spirit of the Council-adopted Downtown Urban Design Plan and Guidelines. From the Downtown Guidelines document: It is a key element in "the development of an open space and pathway network throughout the downtown. Existing city owned lands and rights-of-way, combined with private property redevelopment, provide the opportunity for a coordinated park, pathway and open space plan…"

The area in question is public space, paid for by public funds and under the public ownership of the ICF and its constituent members: Vancouver Island municipalities, regional districts and First Nations. Its private use for tenant parking is unacceptable on principle (a fairly important principle I assume you all agree).

I had a very pleasant chat with Jane from Fibbers the other day. She said she knew there was a number of problems with this area's use as a "driveway". I found especially interesting her point that the large freight truck that services the pub each morning can't use the area as both access and exit are too difficult. I suggested white paint on the curb across the Selby Street frontage and problem solved. Only bollards correct the "driveway" error.

OK, so we have, in error, a driveway where we need an important pedestrian walkway connector in Nanaimo's most walkable neighbourhood. So, let's own up to the mistake and fix it. Place bollards across the Selby Street entrance and create a 15minute commercial loading (and soon hopefully passenger pick-up and drop-off) zone in front of the Station.

Frank Murphy

Frank Murphy said...

Email received, replied to May 7 20, 2013 —

Subject: Re: Hello again everyone
Date: 7 May, 2013 1:50:45 PM PDT
To: Chris Sholberg , Bruce Anderson , Gary Noble ,, "" , George Anderson , Ted Greves
Cc: Janice Roberts

Nanaimo Planning Department: this is cowardly of you. Seriously, shame on you...

On 2013-05-07, at 1:31 PM, "Janice Roberts" wrote:

Hi Frank,

Sorry for the delayed reply but I am waiting until our next board meeting to discuss the changes to our Nanaimo Station. After the site visit with Chris Sholberg, Bruce Anderson, Gary Noble and myself, we did discuss an option that will work for all parties taking in account your views.

- No bollards will be installed
- Sign wording changed
- Specific parking area for building tenants
- Addition signage installed

Once the process is brought forth to the board, we can move forward.

Thank you for your input on this matter,


Janice Roberts
Office Administrator
Island Corridor Foundation
Box 375 Stn A, Nanaimo BC V9R 5L3
Office: 250 754 7254 | Fax: 888 662 4197 |