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2018 Council

Vote Bill Manners

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Tourism and Downtown Revitalization

Nanaimo is not a tourist destination.  Nanaimo is a city that tourists speed through on the way to their destinations.  Tourists get off the ferry and go to Cathedral Grove, or Milner Gardens, or Rathtrevor Park, or Tigh-Na-Mara, or Tofino. As a councillor, I would like to grab some of those tourist dollars for Nanaimo before they leave the city. So we need to create spaces in downtown Nanaimo that will make tourists slow down, stop, look, and buy.

1 Port Drive1 Port Drive

Some current designs I’ve seen want to put condos on that space as well as a Granville Island style market. I vote NO on condos, YES on the market. This is the last prime piece of downtown waterfront land, and I want to keep it a vibrant place for everyone to enjoy. Putting condos on the property would have a dampening effect on human activity like it has around the Beacon, or Pacifica. Have you noticed how quiet everyone goes in those areas when you walk along the waterfront? And the tall buildings entirely block out the sunlight from the late afternoon on.

No, 1 Port Drive should be buzzing with the energy of human activity. It should be a thriving marketplace full of local artists and craftspeople showing off their talents to the cruise ship passengers who stop by. It should be a place where people can experience the local cuisine, the bounty of our local farmers, and our local culture. It should pay homage to the history of that location while looking towards Nanaimo’s future.

It shouldn’t be another concrete jungle, though. It will need green space around it, planters and gardens and trees. It should look beautiful. It should be a place where people want to stay and enjoy that amazing waterfront setting.

 

 

Waterfront Pioneer PlazaDiana Krall Plaza and Waterfront Pioneer Plaza

Speaking of concrete jungles, we need to do something about these two dismal urban wastelands in the heart of our downtown.

Diana Krall Plaza works on the Commercial St. side of things. It’s more people-friendly with planters, trees, and seating around the planters. But as you get further in, it turns into a lonely urban canyon. The only use it seems to get is as a toilet for the seagulls.

We need to turn it into a people place. Perhaps more planters or a sculpture walk featuring work by local artists. Someone had the clever idea last summer of hosting a board game night down there. With moveable seating and tables, we could set up conversation areas outside the library. Maybe allow some food carts, so that people who work or shop downtown can enjoy their lunch there. Making it a more people friendly place will make it a less scary place to walk through.

Waterfront Pioneer Plaza is another forlorn urban wasteland, with broken benches and overgrown shrubbery that blocks the view of the waterfront. Occasionally it comes to life in the summer time with a once-per-week farmer’s market that lasts for a few hours. But for the most part, it’s another scary, lonely place to have to walk through to get to the waterfront.

It needs much more activity going on there. Perhaps a moveable stage for children’s dance recitals, or local theatre groups putting on some sort of Shakespeare on the Waterfront on summer evenings. Again, moveable tables and chairs with food carts or trucks nearby would make it a more attractive place to gather in the daytime.

These are just a few ideas to get the ball rolling on community engagement about these spaces. These spaces belong to the residents of Nanaimo and everyone should have an opportunity to get a say in how to improve them. I am willing to listen to ideas from the community about these sites and what they can be used for. I know there are amazing ideas out there that could make these spaces vibrant. City Council just needs to hear them. Making these spaces more people-friendly will help with downtown revitalization. More importantly, it will encourage tourists to explore our downtown, discover our local merchants and put their tourist dollars into our hands instead of blowing through Nanaimo on their way to somewhere else.

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