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Nanaimo city council votes to reinstall nuclear-free zone signs

Nanaimo residents will see the return of signs declaring the city a nuclear weapons free zone.

Nanaimo city council unanimously agreed to replace signs designating the city as a nuke-free zone during its committee of the whole meeting Monday.

The signs represent Nanaimo’s historic peace movement and are an important statement that the Harbour City continues to support global peace, says Coun. Diane Brennan.

The signs were originally installed shortly after city officials passed a bylaw in 1987 that banned the manufacture, transportation and storage of nuclear weapons within city boundaries. The move was in response to concerns nuclear-capable and nuclear-powered American submarines were coming into Nanoose Bay.

The signs disappeared in 2008, prompting activists to call for their return. Nanaimo city staff members were reportedly unaware the signs went missing.

““I think they are still [relevant].  We live in really insecure times right now and very violent times,” said Brennan.”For me, the signs are a reminder as you come and go from Nanaimo that we are a community that stands for peace and that we are aware of our need to push forward a peace agenda locally and worldwide.

“[That phrase] think globally, act locally – it’s more of what this is.”

Dyane Brown, with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, advocated for the signs to be returned to the city’s entrances. The group has felt a lot of pride in the city’s status as a nuclear-free zone and wants others to feel the same, she said, adding that the signs are an important part of Nanaimo’s identity.

She said she’s happy but not surprised city officials are taking steps to replace the nuclear-weapons free signs.

“This is a council that has supported activities that are concerned with disarmament,” Brown said. “[The signs] give a sense of what’s happening in the world and why we still need to be concerned.”

The signs were put up at the entrances of the city, including Stewart Avenue, Chase Hill and Woodgrove Mall on the old Island Highway. They first went missing and were reinstalled in 2003.

Nanaimo city staff will be approaching the B.C. Ministry of Transportation for permission to reinstall the nuke-free signs. If the bid fails, the signs will be put on city streets.

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