Morden Park Site Development Plan

In November of 2009, Friends of Morden Mine (FOMM) initiated the first step in the process of creating a site development plan by hiring Gemella Design Inc as the consultant to prepare this document.

FOMM believes that the development of the Historic Site and Trail could become a major cultural and tourist attraction, an educational interpretive centre for early coal mining on Vancouver Island and a community gathering place. The scope of the proposed Site Development Plan then is to obtain a comprehensive report that can be used as a guideline, a strategy and a tool for fundraising to achieve these goals.

Restoration of these structures is an immediate priority if they are to be saved. FOMM has already commissioned and received engineering reports on the feasibility and estimated cost of restoring these structures.

FOMM, BC Parks, the RDN and the City of Nanaimo made equal contributions to fund the costs for this development plan.

The MORDEN PARK SITE DEVELOPMENT PLAN is intended to collect information, define a proposed direction and to provide options and recommend priorities and actions to BC Parks, Regional District of Nanaimo or both in the short and long term with a 5 year focus. It should be of interest to adjacent communities (Nanaimo and Ladysmith) who would benefit the most from such an attraction.

The Morden Park Site Development Plan endeavors to include the following objectives:

  • Identify potential uses of the site to accommodate visitors, tourists, school excursions and other uses related to the historic and cultural significance of the site.
  • Identify location of interpretive centre, staffing, parking areas, access and other logistics related to site development. Include a preliminary landscape plan that includes parking, picnic area, toilets, interpretive features, trail development etc.
  • Integration of this site with the Morden Colliery Trail and proposed management structure for the site.
  • Identify and provide solutions to mitigate for possible conflicts in the use of this site and the nature trail or other stakeholders not yet identified.
  • Alignment with new or existing neighborhood plans and organizations.
  • Comparison with similar resource developments in other BC or Vancouver Island communities and sources of funding used for these developments.
  • Provide visionary recommendations for the development of the mine/nature trail at Morden colliery and projections of associated costs and time schedules to develop this site.
The development of this plan includes a public consultation program, intended to receive input from the community and stake holders that stand to benefit from a successful development of the Morden mine site and the Trail. This includes input from public agencies such as the RDN, BC Parks, the City of Nanaimo, and the Town of Ladysmith, and from local community associations in Cedar and South Wellington.

The success of the public process component of the Morden Park Site Development Plan could be achieved through ‘open house’ events or town hall meetings for the public at large. Some of the objectives for such consultation may include the following:
  • Provide a meeting place to allow for a meaningful level of involvement of local community associations;
  • All positions and input received will be considered; not all input can and will be accommodated;
  • The integrity of a broad public interest must be paramount to the process and must not be superseded by any individual or interest group;
  • A minimum of two (2) Open Houses held in the South Wellington/Cedar area to solicit views, comments and opinions on development/restoration of the Morden mine site in conjunction with the Trail system and receive comments prior to the preparation of the final document.
Progress to date:

Friends of Morden Mine’s first two open houses, held on February 16th and 18th, invited public input on draft proposals for site development of Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park and the western portion of Morden Colliery Regional Trail. The final proposed site development plan was available for public review at Cranberry Community Centre, 1555 Morden Road, South Wellington on April 20th. The proposed plan was introduced by Gemella Design and intended to define necessary priorities and actions to enhance park and trail areas.

The plan's vision statement focusses on six key goals for the park and adjacent trail area:
  • Secures and protects the heritage values of this historic park.
  • Fosters education and appreciation of Vancouver Island mining history.
  • Provides links to other historical sites and trails.
  • Provides rewarding outdoor recreational opportunities including a community gathering space.
  • Conserves and restores the natural landscape and park character.
  • Complements the neighbourhood.
Key recommendations relating to Historic Site Designation, Signs, Programming, Connections, Security, Sustainability and Stewardship include:
  • Recognize the historic significance through Canada’s Historic Places designation.
  • Apply to MOT for approved roadside finding signs to raise the profile of the park.
  • Improve the internal site signage system.
  • Provide facilities with flexibility in mind.
  • Attract year-round use and comfort.
  • Include spaces for events, fundraising, and oral history.
  • Link activities and elements to other heritage tourism sites and nearby trails.
  • Control access with gates for day use of the park only.
  • Provide park amenities with natural materials and green infra-structure. Conserve and enhance biodiversity.
  • Provide park users with opportunities to connect with nature.
Graphic representations of questionnaire results from the open houses, together with the consultant's Site Development Plan are shown in the figures below. Please click to view.

Figure 1: Site Development Plan for Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park.
Figure 2: Proposed final Site Development Plan incorporating some recommendations from the two February Open Houses.
Figure 3: Graphic representations of selected questions from February 16, 2010 Open House.
Figure 4: Graphic representations of selected questions from February 18, 2010 Open House.
Figure 5: Graphic representations from April 20, 2010 Open House.

Apart from responses to specific questions from the consultant, a number of additional ideas were suggested at the Open Houses. These include:
  • More historic information on how the PCMM mine at Morden Colliery worked.
  • Reminders of the innovative reinforced concrete technology that went into Morden’s construction.

  • Publicizing of Morden’s historic above-ground structures not only as unique in the Nanaimo region but as an example of the economy, technology and social culture of the time.
  • Publicizing of Morden as an important component of Nanaimo (Central Vancouver Island) tourism infrastructure.

  • Museum with displays relating to other local and regional mines and miners, cultural history of immigrant miners, mining equipment, a miner’s home. Marketing as a tourism destination.

  • Visitor access to an underground area, restoration of old mining entrance in its original location, and of above-ground buildings.
  • Informative signage to provide information on tunnel depth.

  • Improved grading and drainage.
  • Walking, biking and wheelchair friendly.
  • A gathering place for families and children, a playground with a mining theme. A place for music, market, weddings.

  • Increase number of trails to encourage more access and interest by visitors.
  • Connect two existing bike trails with bridge over river to make MCRT a key component to the RDN trail system.

  • Keep the site as natural and simple as possible, including preservation of native plants. Minimize the site’s disturbance.
  • A native plant and nature interpretation centre. Respect the area and keep its history alive.

  • Combine Commemorative Walk, with Restoration.
  • Keep all-terrain vehicles from the park, increase park security after hours.
  • Allocate an auxiliary parking area.

  • Do not allow new structures to intrude on views of existing historic buildings.
  • Set goals for possible expanded development along regional pathways and in surrounding neighbourhood.