Editorial: Skyline adding height, prestige

With an upscale hotelier interested in building a skyscraper here, it’s a reminder that Nanaimo needn’t be afraid to reach for the sky.

This week brought news that a developer wants to put a 30-storey Hilton-branded hotel on Front Street downtown. It’s the second such project in the works, with SSS Manhao’s 21-storey hotel already slated for construction next to the conference centre.

Even now, before any concrete has been poured at these building sites, just the artists’ renderings alone are signs that downtown revitalization may be working better than we thought. Someone is looking at Nanaimo and seeing potential.

It’s tempting to think that our city’s tourism could be approaching a tipping point, when there are enough attractive reasons to come here that people do just that, creating a need for more accommodations and amenities that attract still more people.

If there are hoteliers considering ways to bring in clientele, it follows that local tourism operators must be brainstorming business plans these days, too. That’s wonderful. It’s always important to try to showcase our city in new and creative ways, and with more hotel rooms and more tourists, the stakes are raised.

We’ve got plenty of time to try to get ready. In the coming years we will have to look at infrastructure issues such as traffic flow, public transit and parking, and assess levels of protective services. Casino expansion is bound to come up.

In Nanaimo we might have to ask ourselves questions about our city’s identity, and we should. We won’t stop being the Harbour City, a clean, beautiful, safe place, but visitors will add vibrancy. The people who are here now plus the ones who are coming really will add up to more than the sum of those parts.

And hopefully, if hotel heiress Paris Hilton ever comes here for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, she’ll be able to look around at Nanaimo and deliver, honestly, her catchphrase: “That’s hot.”

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