Nanaimo city council voted to adopt the ‘doughnut’ economic model as a guiding principle for all city initiatives and planning. (Stock photo)

Nanaimo city council voted to adopt the ‘doughnut’ economic model as a guiding principle for all city initiatives and planning. (Stock photo)

Nanaimo council decides city will be guided by ‘doughnut’ economic model

Councillor says Nanaimo first city in Canada to adopt the model as a guiding principle

The City of Nanaimo has a strategic vision and other guiding documents, but from now on, all decisions need to fit into a ‘doughnut’ economy.

City council, at a special meeting Monday, voted 5-4 in favour of Coun. Ben Geselbracht’s motion to adopt the doughnut economic model “as a cohesive vision for all city initiatives and planning processes.”

Geselbracht posted on social media that Nanaimo is the first Canadian city to adopt doughnut economics as a vision and framework.

The doughnut model, according to a city staff report, challenges economies to meet and exceed “minimum global living standards” and equity, while “avoiding pushing beyond our ecological limits.” The idea is that the doughnut represents the sweet spot – “the safe and just space for humanity” between a social foundation on the inner edge of the doughnut and an ecological ceiling on the outer edge. Geselbracht’s motion calls for a “city portrait” to be created, with measurable social and environmental indicators and targets so the city can track its progress.

Staff’s report did not include recommendations, but noted a few different ways staff could incorporate the doughnut framework into council’s strategic plan, the Reimagine Nanaimo planning process and the environment committee’s work plan.

“The doughnut economy provides a very clear understanding of what the relationship is [with] the environment and what we have to do in terms of living within the means of the planet and also the basic foundation that we need to meet as a community to provide health and well-being to our citizens,” Geselbracht said.

The concept had been previously discussed at a city governance and priorities meeting, but councillors remained divided.

“I know some people are very strongly in favour of it, some people think it’s meaningless drivel. Everybody has their opinion,” said Coun. Ian Thorpe.

He said the doughnut model is unbalanced with a focus on environmental concerns, and said it would be better suited as a guiding principle for the environment committee’s work, not for all city decision-making.

“Although it’s called an economic model, it seems to have nothing to do with GDP economics and that’s my main concern…” Thorpe said. “It is, from what I’ve read, a very left-wing philosophy which basically says that business is bad, growth is bad, development’s bad, we want to focus just on social and environmental priorities. Well, I’m all in favour of being responsible for the environment, but I think there has to be a balance.”

Coun. Tyler Brown rebutted, saying it’s clear that humans’ actions are not in balance with the Earth.

“So to dispute that and say that this model is out of balance, I would say that’s completely incorrect because the current model is out of balance,” Brown said.

He added that he thinks people want leadership from city council on setting a vision “across many different domains” and said that’s what the doughnut economic model can do.

Coun. Sheryl Armstrong said she’d heard from urban planners who suggested the City of Nanaimo should be looking at an alternate sustainable development model, Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI). She noted Victoria, Saanich and Vancouver are ICLEI members and said it’s a proven model that would meet Nanaimo’s needs and come with supports, and wondered why the city would instead choose a model no other Canadian city has adopted.

“Because we like to be different, because we like to be leaders and just because nobody else is doing it in Canada doesn’t mean this isn’t the right framework and the right approach,” said Coun. Zeni Maartman.

Mayor Leonard Krog was most concerned with process, saying council should wait for a staff report on how the strategic plan could be amended to incorporate the doughnut economic framework.

“We are in the middle of the Reimagine Nanaimo process which is involving a great deal many more people than sit around this council table and I think it’s appropriate that it be referred accordingly,” Krog said.

However, council voted against referring the doughnut model to the economic development task force, preferring an immediate vote. Geselbracht suggested council members who disagreed with his position hadn’t done enough research, and Coun. Erin Hemmens pointed out that staff had indicated that the doughnut model could fit into existing work plans.

“The problem is that we have finite resources to take care of all the people on Earth…” she said. “Here’s a model we could use to basically pull apart this huge, complex question we’re wrestling with.”

The motion to adopt the doughnut economic model as a cohesive vision for all city initiatives and planning passed 5-4 with Krog, Thorpe, Armstrong and Coun. Jim Turley opposed.

READ ALSO: Island economic summit panellists discuss sustainability based on ‘doughnut’ model

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City Hall

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Capt. Alan Millbank, head of Nanaimo Fire Rescue’s Fire and Loss Prevention Division, takes photos of the scene of a blaze that heavily damaged two apartments on Wakesiah Avenue on Sunday, April 18. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
RCMP, Nanaimo Fire Rescue investigating suspicious apartment blaze

Fire destroyed ground-floor apartment, spread to second storey at Wakesiah Avenue complex

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry speaks at a press conference Monday, April 18. (B.C. Government image)
New COVID-19 cases tick down on the central Island

New cases held to single digits three days in a row

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
Island Health seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

VIHA says Chakalaka Bar and Grill also violating water and sewer regulations with RV hook-ups

Nanaimo RCMP hope the public can help them find a 16-year-old who has been missing since Sunday. (Photo submitted)
UPDATE: 16-year-old Nanaimo boy located safe

Teen had been reported missing last week and it was thought he may have left town

The Regional District of Nanaimo plans to make its operations more efficient as it works on long-term goals around carbon-neutrality. (PQB News file photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo works to become carbon neutral by 2032

RDN committee of the whole members endorse plan developed by consultant

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Wickaninnish (Clifford Atleo) plays the drum while singing the Nuu-chah-nulth song on the court steps in Vancouver In a picture from April 2018. Photo credit, Melody Charlie.
Five western Vancouver Island First Nations celebrate legal fishing victory

Court ruling confirms Nuu-chah-nulth fishing rights in case dating back to 2003

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Most Read