A task force on recovery and resilience in COVID-19 times is recommending that Nanaimo show pride of place and work with partners toward big-ticket projects.
The City of Nanaimo’s mayor’s task force on recovery and resilience reported to city council Monday, presenting six primary recommendations.
The task force calls for Nanaimo to strengthen pride of place, convene a “leaders’ table” to build community collaboration, pursue strategic investments such as a tertiary hospital, promote reconciliation and combat racism, prioritize emergency preparedness, and support small business.
Donna Hais, a member of the mayor’s task force, presented the recommendations and said while a lot of people might have been hoping for a “magic answer” for their own sector, the task force believes the recommendations are connected and intended to affect everyone and benefit everyone.
“They’ll make us stronger; they’ll make us more ready for the next [challenge] because there will be something else … And not only that, they will just overall make us better as a community…” Hais said. “You need to contribute, you need to get involved and you need to be part of the solution because it involves all of us.”
The pride of place recommendation, referred to as “Nanaimo builds,” is meant to be a citizen-driven campaign challenging people to talk about things they like about Nanaimo.
“We truly are a lucky and blessed city…” Hais said. “Look at where we live as the Harbour City. We need to build that enthusiasm and share what’s positive about Nanaimo.”
Coun. Zeni Maartman expressed a hope that city council members will post on social media about positive things they see and hear, and Coun. Erin Hemmens also spoke in support of the recommendation.
“Pride of place is something that we’ve always struggled with and I think if we can nail it, that will be a major leap forward for how people experience our city,” Hemmens said.
The leaders’ table suggestion, recommended as a way to create an aligned approach in pursuing capital infrastructure investment, is tied to the strategic investment priority. Some of the targeted projects the task force put forward were a downtown node, a logistics hub for the Port of Nanaimo, a tertiary hospital, physical and digital connections at VIU, waterfront assets including the Harbourfront Walkway, a transportation hub, and general technology readiness.
Coun. Ben Geselbracht said a collaborative approach to those kinds of projects could help break some of the silos that exist.
“We do need to put in the effort of building a shared, unified voice and vision for the community and part of that is a really strong, shared voice to ask the senior levels of government for the investment that we need to deal with the big issues that we’re facing,” he said.
The recommendations around small business included supporting elimination of the speculation tax, lobbying for federal emergency benefits that don’t incentivize unemployment, and developing transportation and digital infrastructure with an eye to the needs of small businesses.
Mayor Leonard Krog said the task force’s recommendations don’t have all the answers, then asked rhetorically if anyone ever has all the answers.
“The answers are going to come by the implementation of these recommendations, assuming that council will support the document, and the job is then on council’s shoulders and then on the leaders’ table … and the individual citizens who have received the rallying cry tonight…” Krog said. “Just living here isn’t enough. Living here is the benefit that you get by being here. Being a citizen is making it a wonderful place for all your fellow citizens and residents, and we have an opportunity.”