Nicole Vaugeois

Project maps culture attachment

NANAIMO – Vancouver Island University students ask residents what they connect to in downtown.

A team of students and researchers at Vancouver Island University are about to find out what connects residents to their downtown in three communities on the Island.

It’s all part of a university-led cultural mapping project dubbed Where Is Here? The project will examine and eventually map the downtown areas of Nanaimo, Courtenay and Port Alberni with the focus being on which areas residents feel the most connected.

Nicole Vaugeois, B.C. Regional Innovation chairwoman in tourism and sustainable regional development and project leader, said the project is all about modernizing and understanding people’s connection to the places within a city’s downtown core.

“There are no shortage of maps in the world, but we don’t actually understand how people value or make meaning of those places that are on a map,” she said. “This project is really about adding a whole other layer for how and why people value the places that they live in.”

In order to provide an accurate picture of what places are most important to people, the VIU students will head out to each municipality’s downtown, where they will ask residents what connects them to downtown and film the responses using an iPhone. Once enough video and data is collected, an online cultural map will be created.

Eventually individuals will be able to add to the map by uploading their own photos and videos.

“If somebody in downtown Nanaimo really connects with the Bastion, if that is a spot that has a particular value, then there would be a video of them speaking about that and telling a short one-and-a-half minute story about that place,” Vaugeois said.

Information gleaned from the map could help city planners and downtown business improvement associations better understand their downtown cores, according to Vaugeois, who said Courtenay, Port Alberni and Nanaimo were chosen for the project because they are three mid-sized cities that are trying to improve their downtown space.

“We are interested to see if this way of mapping really works and if it is of value to the community stakeholders,” Vaugeois said. “The idea is if this model works, we could expand that.”

Students will be in downtown Nanaimo on April 2. To learn more, please visit

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

Just Posted

COVID-19 brings curbside ‘parklet’ patios back to downtown Nanaimo

Nanaimo city council votes for restaurant service area expansions to meet social distancing measures

Nanaimo council votes 5-4 to change covenant to allow for north-end condo building

Neighbours express opposition to six-storey, 66-unit building on McRobb Avenue

Nanaimo man scores viral hit with stop-motion tribute to ‘Schitt’s Creek’

Todd Cameron used vintage Fisher Price toys to create one-minute music video

RDN Transit will start collecting bus fare again next week

Passenger limits will remain in effect on buses

Inquest into 2016 shooting death of Nanaimo man postponed due to pandemic

Craig Andrew Ford death inquest was to be held July 27

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

Tahsis opens its gates to visitors to save local economy

Seasonal local businesses that rely on tourism hope to survive despite drop in tourist numbers

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

Study looks at feasibility of Vancouver Island abattoir

South Island Prosperity Partnership funds study looking at local meat processing

Island city cancels plan for homeless camp; exploring alternative option

The plan heard strong objection from neighbouring residents and businesses

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

Most Read