The Hub - Public Space and Transit Improvements at Terminal and Commercial

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link

The Terminal Avenue and Commercial Street intersection is the heart of our city and the gateway to downtown Nanaimo. Through the years, the community has emphasized the importance of creating a great space in this location that sets the tone for experiencing our downtown.

In connection with the ongoing Terminal Avenue Upgrades project, the City is considering options for public open space improvements and concepts for a downtown transit exchange. Improvements include new plaza and park spaces, improved cycle and pedestrian connections, and streetscape upgrades.

The City is seeking public feedback on concepts that explore ways to:

The Terminal Avenue and Commercial Street intersection is the heart of our city and the gateway to downtown Nanaimo. Through the years, the community has emphasized the importance of creating a great space in this location that sets the tone for experiencing our downtown.

In connection with the ongoing Terminal Avenue Upgrades project, the City is considering options for public open space improvements and concepts for a downtown transit exchange. Improvements include new plaza and park spaces, improved cycle and pedestrian connections, and streetscape upgrades.

The City is seeking public feedback on concepts that explore ways to:

  • Create a welcoming and safe space that is a gateway for experiencing Nanaimo’s downtown, Victoria Crescent, the Old City Quarter, and all that Nanaimo has to offer
  • Support existing businesses by increasing accessibility and desirability in the area
  • Promote redevelopment along the Terminal Corridor to create a vibrant pedestrian experience
  • Link in strong walking and cycling networks
  • Provide a downtown “hub” for Nanaimo’s transit system

We are engaging with the local business community and the public throughout September 2021 to review and refine early design concepts. Read on to learn more about the project, take the survey and find out other ways to be involved!

Nanaimo is located on the ancestral lands of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and the Snaw-naw-as (Nanoose) First Nation, of the Coast Salish people, who have lived along the waterfront for generations, and continue to live here today.

What's Happening?

In recent years, the City has undertaken several studies that have identified opportunities for pedestrian, cyclist, and transit improvements in the downtown core including Terminal Nicol Re-imagined, Port Drive Waterfront Master Plan, and the Downtown Mobility Hub Project. The Nanaimo Transportation Master Plan and Official Community Plan outline goals to create a more inclusive, vibrant, and connected downtown. Over the years, community input has continuously reinforced the importance of creating a great space in this location and about having a safe, welcoming, and convenient downtown transit exchange.

To achieve these goals, the City is advancing public open space and transit improvements at the 500 block of Terminal Avenue, a priority area for revitalization. Over the coming weeks, the City will work closely with partners, stakeholders, the public, and local business and property owners to explore design concepts for a new transit hub and public open space improvements in the area.

Improvements will support local economic growth, encourage more sustainable transportation, strengthen identity, and continue the positive momentum towards creating a thriving downtown Nanaimo for all to enjoy.

Project Area

The proposed transit hub and public open space improvements will improve our experience along Terminal Avenue and help us connect to adjacent streets. Key improvement areas include:

  • Terminal Avenue improvements from Esplanade to Commercial St. – pedestrian improvements, streetscape beautification, and road repaving (Terminal Avenue improvements between Commercial St. and Stewart Ave. will occur in future phases)
  • Proposed transit exchange – in the 500 block of Terminal Avenue between Terminal and Shaw Lane (south of the Jean Burns site).
  • New public plaza and open space improvements – at the former Jean Burns Building site and in Lois Lane
  • Intersection improvements – upgrades at the Victoria / Albert / Wallace intersection
  • Upgrades to the existing pocket park - at the Victoria / Albert / Wallace intersection
  • Albert Street cycle route connection – new connection to Albert Street cycle route and link across Terminal Ave.

Why this Location?

As many know, the City and partners have been exploring potential options for a downtown transit exchange. Several locations including this one, Port Drive, and Front Street have been investigated. The Terminal Avenue site is being advanced for the following reasons:

  • With Terminal Avenue Streetscape Upgrades moving ahead and Jean Burns site unoccupied, this location represents the best opportunity to achieve a permanent downtown transit exchange in the next two to three years. Investigations at the Port Drive site will take many years which would delay advancing a needed permanent hub.
  • This location supports an “off-street” exchange, which allows buses to leave the roadway helping to increase safety and manage congestion. The Front Street site that was investigated would only allow for an “on-street” exchange.
  • This central location, right in the heart of downtown, connects closely to many retail areas and places of interest including the downtown core, Victoria Crescent, and the Old City Quarter, encouraging people to visit services throughout the area.
  • By creating a well-designed transit exchange and surrounding public open spaces in this location, there an opportunity to infuse vibrancy and beauty that has been lacking in this part of downtown Nanaimo.

To learn more about why the City is proposing a transit exchange at this location, please visit Terminal Avenue Upgrades.

What's the Process?

Public engagement is happening throughout September 2021. Your input will be used to refine and focus preliminary design directions. Construction of Terminal Avenue improvements is currently planned to start as early as spring 2022 and the transit exchange and open space improvements would tentatively begin later in 2022.


Early Design Concepts

The early design concepts aim to create a vibrant, thriving, and connected hub. The project will also address concerns raised by the community including:

  • Improving pedestrian linkages across Terminal Avenue to better connect downtown, Victoria Crescent, the Old City Quarter, and all that Nanaimo has to offer
  • Finally filling in the very large hole at the corner of Commercial and Terminal (Jean Burns site) and activating this highly visible, underutilized site.
  • Improving the functionality and safety of the intersection at Wallace Street / Albert / Commercial Street / Victoria Crescent
  • Improving pedestrian and public safety
  • Adding beauty and activity throughout the day and into the evening to create a safe, positive atmosphere for the community
  • Upgrading lighting along Terminal Avenue and surrounding open spaces to enhance safety, visibility, and public experience


PROPOSED TRANSIT EXCHANGE

The City is exploring the potential to incorporate a transit hub between Terminal Avenue and Shaw Lane. As the Terminal Avenue Upgrades project is already scheduled for 2022, pursuing the exchange at this location will allow for possible implementation within the next two to three years.

The final routes buses will use to access the exchange will be determined through a combination of technical analysis and input from Regional District of Nanaimo, BC Transit, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and Emergency Services and will consider feedback shared by the public through this process.

There are three proposed concepts for the transit exchange (click on the concept images below to open a larger version in a new window):

CONCEPT 1:

  • Buses are routed to Terminal Avenue and Commercial Street between Terminal and Victoria is closed to vehicular traffic to simplify the Victoria / Albert / Wallace intersection and increase public open space.
  • A generous public plaza allows space for gathering.
  • Improvements are made to Shaw Lane, Lois Lane, China Steps, and the pocket park at the Victoria / Albert / Wallace intersection.
  • A cycle route connects Albert Street across Terminal Avenue.


CONCEPT 2:

  • Buses are routed to the Albert / Victoria / Wallace intersection for transit efficiency and Commercial Street is closed to vehicular traffic.
  • Two small public plazas allow space for gathering.
  • Improvements are made to Shaw Lane, Lois Lane, China Steps, and the pocket park at the Victoria / Albert / Wallace intersection.
  • A cycle route connects Albert Street across Terminal Avenue.


CONCEPT 3:

  • Buses are routed to the Albert / Victoria / Wallace intersection and Commercial Street is reduced to one-way vehicle access.
  • A moderate public plaza allows space for gathering.
  • Improvements are made to Shaw Lane, Lois Lane, China Steps, and the pocket park at the Victoria / Albert / Wallace intersection.
  • A shared-use path and on-street bike route provides cycle connections from Albert Street across Terminal Ave.

The final routes buses will use to access the exchange will be determined through a combination of technical analysis and input from Regional District of Nanaimo, BC Transit, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, and Emergency Services and will consider feedback shared by the public through this process.




PUBLIC OPEN SPACE IMPROVEMENTS

Any of the transit exchange concepts will provide an opportunity for the City to create beautiful public spaces as the project is developed. We’re seeking feedback on early design ideas so these can be incorporated as the process continues. Three concepts that consider different elements and features have been developed for discussion (click on the concept images below to open a larger version in a new window) :

CREATIVE CONCEPT:
This design approach celebrates our creative history at the former Jean Burns building which was home to a vibrant arts community.

Design Highlights:

  • Opportunities for interactive public art
  • Fun and interactive park/plaza features that encourage public interaction (e.g., movable / adaptable furnishings, overhead or decorative lighting, sound, music, or interactive art elements)
  • Reflects the downtown landscape’s urban character
  • Integration of artistic elements such as decorative pavers, artistic sidewalk coatings, and bollards
  • Upgrades to the China Steps and retention of heritage elements including the decorative handrail and restored and new signage
  • Flexible custom seating including stepped concrete and wood seat walls
  • Integrated native plantings and protection of mature trees
  • New cycle connection and supporting amenities (racks, covered bike parking)
  • New public washroom facility

TIDELINE CONCEPT:
This design approach celebrates the site's environmental history, acknowledging the location of the historic shoreline, to provide a natural yet contemporary public space.

Design Highlights:

  • Integrates natural, sweeping, softer geometries to relate to the historic tideline
  • Contemporary, urban materials that reflect both the past and the present
  • Water feature to provide sound attenuation, visual interest, and opportunities for play
  • Opportunities for public art integration
  • Potential for overhead lighting, bollards, decorative pavers
  • Specialty crosswalk treatments
  • Flexible seating and stepped seating
  • Upgrades to China Steps including new lighting, guardrails, and preservation of sign and arch
  • Protection of mature trees and integrated native planting including vines and trellis on vertical wall
  • Integrated stormwater management strategies (rain gardens, permeable pavers)
  • Bike parking amenities
  • New public washroom facility


BUILDING CONCEPT:
This concept integrates a mixed-use development on the former Jean Burns building site to offer a range of retail opportunities and continue the neighbourhood character along Victoria Crescent

Design Highlights:

  • The public open space elements include those listed in the Tideline Concept, plus:
    • Space for up to 2 mixed-use buildings that integrate with neighbourhood character and scale, with ground-floor commercial and retail opportunities to support local businesses (note: final siting and design would be determined in future phases and
      pending further technical review)
    • Potential for covered exterior plaza space between buildings
    • Upgrades to China Steps with opportunities to connect the steps to the new building entries and new overhead lighting
    • Smaller plaza spaces with fixed and movable furnishings
    • No water feature due to reduced plaza spaces
    • Potential to integrate public washroom facility into building

  • Thank you for your Participation!

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    supporting image

    What a great turnout at our Public Open House on Saturday, September 25! We heard many comments about the concepts including what works well and what can be improved. We also received almost 1,000 responses on our public survey, which was open from August 25th to October 4th. Thank you to everyone who took time to participate and provide your feedback about the project.

    The City is now in the process of reviewing your input and will be sharing back what we heard later this fall. Your input will be considered, along with further technical analysis and key stakeholder input, to inform next steps.

    Stay tuned for more information!

  • Share Your Feedback!

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    supporting image

    The survey has now closed. Stay tuned for a summary about what we heard later this fall 2021!

    We are excited to share early design concepts for "The Hub" — public space and transit improvements at Terminal and Commercial. We want to hear what you think works well, what concerns you have, and what can be improved! Your input will inform next steps towards detailed design and implementation.

    The form should only take about 5-10 minutes so share your thoughts today. Encourage your friends, neighbours, and others you know who might be interested in this project to share their thoughts too.

    Deadline for feedback is October 4, 2021.

    Provide Feedback

    For those looking to learn more, stay tuned for more details about our upcoming community events in September.



  • Upcoming Engagement Opportunities

    Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Linkedin Email this link
    supporting image

    We are excited to share early design concepts and hear what you think works well, what concerns you have, and what can be improved!

    Join us at our upcoming outdoor public open house on Saturday, September 25th from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. on Commercial Street between Terminal and Wallace. During the event, you can meet representatives of the City and the design team to discuss design concepts at the site, join a walking tour, and share your feedback.

    In the meantime, view the early design concepts on the main page to learn more.

    Watch for our online feedback form launching by August 26th to share your feedback!

    The City of Nanaimo will be monitoring and following current Provincial health guidelines for COVID-19 for our planned public events and will be providing all relevant information online. If you have any questions or concerns about the engagement process, please do not hesitate to contact us at thehub@nanaimo.ca.

Page last updated: 23 October 2021, 13:13