Next time you are in downtown Nanaimo take a look at Terminal Avenue.
Back in 1964 the politicos and business elite decided the best way to attract people to downtown Nanaimo was to fill in the waterfront. There used to be an inlet as outlined in red on the map below. The blue line represents the shoreline today.
Commercial Inlet was destroyed along with the natural shoreline. In filling the inlet allowed for the construction of Terminal Avenue so there would be an alternative route through town, rather than just Front Street. This has been referred to as the Terminal Trench.
Also, at the time there were plans to build the Harbour Park Mall (Port Place).
What would Nanaimo’s waterfront have looked like today if the objective was not just for profits but rather preserving the unique natural shoreline of the waterfront that was both pedestrian friendly and interactive?
“Paving paradise to put up a parking lot” was a line in a 1970’s song by Joni Mitchell. The best lines from the song are:
They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
Then they charged the people
A dollar and a half just to see ’em
Now on Commercial Street ironically there is a museum, no trees or inlet on are on display for people to imagine what it was like before. To make matters worse Nanaimo’s waterfront that is enjoyed by the public is to be privatized.