Film fest to raise profile of urban planning

NANAIMO: Nature in the City features seven films relevant to planning communities.

With a population expected to reach 100,000 people in the next few years, Nanaimo is on the brink of becoming a large urban centre.

With that comes a myriad of challenges, including urban planning which includes nature in that planning.

Going green isn’t easy, especially when it involves re-writing all the books of urban development that have, up until recently, been used as the template for most major centres in North America.

The seventh annual Urban Issues Film Festival addresses those changes in Nature in the City, a one-day film festival that highlights new urban planning that includes urban agriculture, regeneration and green design.

“The movies we’ll be showing discuss ways we’re working with nature and how we incorporate it into development,” said Deborah Jensen, community planner for Nanaimo. “It’s not all about Nanaimo. Some of the movies include what other cities are doing to rejuvenate their neighbourhoods and maybe how we can apply some of those ideas here.

“They also illustrate that community planning isn’t always as simple as it may seem and this gives us a good opportunity to communicate that to residents from other perspectives.”

One of the feature films, We Are Not Ghosts (52 minutes), documents how neighbourhoods in Detroit re-planned their communities after being decimated by the economic crash in 2008. Detroit suffered unemployment rates of 30 per cent during the peak of the crisis.

Sponsored by the Planning Institute of B.C. North Island Chapter and the Vancouver Island University geography department, the film festival opens at 2:45 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 9) in building 356, room 109 with the first film, Cars or People (28 minutes), showing at 3 p.m. Six movies will follow until 9 p.m. and short discussions will take place after each film.

At 6:30 p.m., former Nanaimo city councillor and retired university professor Bill Holdom will give a keynote presentation. Holdom was a key figure in shaping Nanaimo’s current official community plan, which was adopted in 2008.

“It’s a coup for us we’ve got councillor Holdom speaking because he’s got that experience, he knows the complexity of the issues that the city is facing and now he can talk about it as a resident and give people a better feel of what is going on,” said Jensen, noting that with the Harewood community plan recently underway, the films could serve as important resources for residents interested in learning the process the city uses to plan neighbourhoods.

The festival is free but registration is required by e-mailing to reserve a space. More information, including a detailed agenda can be found at