Visitors can now access new features, including a viewing platform and staircase to Ammonite Falls, following the completion of the Benson Creek Falls Regional Park Access Improvements project.
The Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) funded the $1.23 million project through its Regional Parks budget along with a $103,125 contribution from Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET), according to a media release by the RDN.
The improvements include additional parking and more accessible trails to provide a safer, permanent way of crossing Benson Creek and accessing the falls.
“Access to parks is vital to our health and well-being and continues to be a priority for the RDN. Thank you to ICET for their funding support and all who worked on the project, often in challenging conditions,” said Tyler Brown, RDN chair.
Project planning and engagement began in early 2018, followed by a design process in 2019 and 2020. Improvements to the park were underway by the fall of 2020, with the construction of the 40-stall gravel parking lot on Weigles Road and trailhead improvements.
A 27 m bridge over Benson Creek and upgrades to the park’s steep ravine trails were also part of this first phase. The second phase saw the construction of stairs down to the base of Ammonite Falls along with a new viewing platform, both of which are now open to the public.
The RDN identified Benson Creek Falls Regional Park as a priority project because of its growing popularity and the environmental impacts from increased use.
“Our regional parks are getting more popular every year, requiring significant investments to maintain trails and to add new infrastructure where needed. Visitors with a wide range of abilities can now enjoy the many stunning features of Benson Creek Falls Regional Park, including Ammonite Falls, thanks to these new upgrades,” said Vanessa Craig, RDN vice chair and Regional Parks and Trails Select Committee chair.
Established in 1991, Benson Creek Falls Regional Park is a top destination for both residents and tourists. The trailhead on Weigles Road provides access to loop trails on the north side of Benson Creek ravine to Ammonite Falls.