It’s an exciting time for pedestrians and cyclists in the City of North Vancouver, as construction on the last section of the city’s portion of the Spirit Trail is now well underway.
The Spirit Trail, first announced in 2007 by the City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, and District of West Vancouver, is a waterfront oriented mixed-use pathway that will eventually connect Horseshoe Bay and Deep Cove.
Over the next four months, crews will be constructing the final and most technically challenging section of the trail in the City of North Vancouver, located at the Mosquito Creek Marina on the Squamish Nation Lands.
“It’s a real critical component,” said City of North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto. “It’s the last missing piece.”
Complexity of marina caused design delays, cost increases
The City has been working with the Squamish Nation on this section of the pathway since 2014, when they signed a partnering agreement for the project. Although construction was initially expected to begin in 2015, engineering and design delays pushed the project to late summer of this year.
The complexity of design in this section is largely related to the presence of the Mosquito Creek Marina’s working boat lift. Engineers have arrived at a design that has the trail traveling below sea level and underneath the boat lift, to avoid any conflict with machinery or marine traffic.
Costs have escalated as a result. Originally pegged at $3 million, the price tag is now close to $6 million, with the increase in cost coming from the expense of the grade-separation required in this section.
Design to incorporate First Nations art
The west gateway of the path section facing Bewicke Avenue will feature a signature public art piece by Coast Salish artist Jody Broomfield. Jody has created art pieces for other trails in North Vancouver, as well as the celebrated Salish Spin Whorl Water Fountain located outside of Park Royal South.
The pedestrian bridge crossing Mosquito Creek will also feature a public art piece by Rick Harry, another accomplished Coast Salish artist.
Critical section will improve connectivity
As it stands currently, walkers and cyclists using the Spirit Trail must take a lengthy 1.4km detour around Mosquito Creek that forces users up to 3rd Street West. The completion of this critical section of the trail will eliminate this detour, shaving off ten minutes walking time and a substantial uphill climb for cyclists.
When the new section opens in spring 2018, the North Shore Auto Mall will be only a 15-minute walk, or a 7-minute bike ride to Lonsdale Quay. This will be especially appealing to potential residents of Concert Properties’ proposed $400 million Harbourside development, located next to the Auto Mall, which will eventually house 800 residential units and a substantial amount of commercial space.
City of North Vancouver far ahead of two other North Shore districts in implementation
Since the Spirit Trail project was announced in 2007, the City of North Vancouver has completed almost 5km of the multi-use path, linking familiar landmarks and new destinations across the city’s waterfront.
However, the District of West Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver are far behind on their portions by comparison.
“We’ll be finished long before the other two districts,” said City of North Vancouver Engineer Doug Pope at a meeting last year.
So far, the District of West Vancouver has completed the majority of the trail sections connecting Park Royal with Ambleside, and Eagle Harbour with Horseshoe Bay. The District of North Vancouver has completed only the western portion, connecting McKay Road to the Lions Gate Bridge in the vicinity of Welch Street.