City hosts free event for Family Day

NANAIMO – New holiday being celebrated in Nanaimo Monday (Feb. 11) with free activities for families.

Megan and Damon Johnston

The province’s first Family Day takes place Monday (Feb. 11) and the new holiday is being celebrated in Nanaimo with some free activities for families.

People can head to the Nanaimo Ice Centre and Nanaimo Aquatic Centre to participate in a range of free events, including swimming, ice skating, gold panning, storytelling, face painting, arts and crafts, board games, prizes, a nature hike and roving entertainment.

“There is a lot happening,” said Damon Johnston, recreation coordinator with the city’s parks, recreation and culture department. “We are anticipating a very busy day. The spirit, I would say, is to celebrate family and be active, laugh and play together.”

He said the province has given the city $8,000 to open the two recreation centres on Third Street to the public for free from noon to 5 p.m. and in addition to the money, the province is also providing interactive activities from Science World, storytelling and the gold panning activity.

Most of the activities run from about noon to 5 p.m., except the hike through Buttertubs Marsh, which takes place from 1-2 p.m. and the family stick and puck games, which have two different one-hour start times.

The province is also supporting Family Day events in six other communities – Cranbrook, Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, Vancouver and Victoria.

B.C. joins five other provinces that have statutory holidays in February – Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island all observe the holiday on the third Monday of the month.

The B.C. Family Day holiday was announced in October 2011. While running for the B.C. Liberal leadership in January 2011, Premier Christy Clark proposed establishing a Family Day holiday to create a break between New Year’s Day and Easter.

After a two-week consultation process last year, Clark announced that Family Day would be observed on the second Monday in February each year.

In addition to the city’s free Family Day celebration, Bikram Yoga on McGarrigle Road is offering free yoga classes on Monday.

Doug Carroll, yoga teacher and former owner – his daughter Nina Carroll now owns the business – said all three 90-minute classes will be free of charge Monday.

People should come 20-30 minutes early, dress light, as the room is heated to about 40 C and 45 per cent humidity, and bring water, a mat and a towel. The studio also rents these items.

Carroll said the business was inspired by the city’s free event.

For more information, please go to

The Nanaimo Regional Transit System will operate on its Sunday schedule for the holiday.

Out of town, Mount Washington is offering half-price alpine and nordic lift tickets and kids under 12 travel free on B.C. Ferries this weekend.

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