The estimated increase in visitation is projected to be 9,900 visitor days. The total spending impact is estimated at $600,000.
Located within the Regional District of Nanaimo, Benson Creek Falls Regional Park is a popular and growing visitor destination. It has a vast network of trails and creek crossings, access to mountain biking and horseback riding at the nearby Mount Benson area. Ammonite Falls, its key attraction, has been named one of Nanaimo’s “Natural Wonders”.
Access to the Falls has been limited due to numerous dangerous natural obstacles, including a steep and slipper bank with a rope and a steep bank and log crossing over Benson Creek.
Led by the Regional District of Nanaimo, the project involved enhancing public access to, and mobility within, a regionally significant park. Improvements consist of new trail sections and improvements; a staircase and viewing platform; a truss bridge; habitat rehabilitation and erosion controls; 40 stall parking lot; interpretive signage; and a parking lot information kiosk. In partnership with Tourism Vancouver Island, the project will also include interpretive information and educate visitors about sustainable, safe and respectful use of the trail. Encouraging a user engagement model that strengthens understanding and enthusiasm for citizen stewardship of natural spaces is in line with best practices in park management across Canada. The marketing of hiking and viewing Ammonite Falls will be part of a regional and Vancouver Island wide network of hiking destinations and printed and digital materials will be developed to help promote the destination.
By establishing upgrades to the existing trail network, including enhanced trail linkages, improved descents and new interpretative signage and parking, the District will capitalize on one of Nanaimo’s top visitor assets. By increasing the number of visitors or ensuring that existing visitors extend their stay, the region’s complement of hospitality amenities and services stand to benefit.