Rally aims for clear vision

Group of citizens wants ideas for Nanaimo's future

A group of citizens hopes their rally will help chart the future course for Nanaimo.

Organizers of the Community Vision Rally invited Ken Melamed, mayor of Whistler, and Mike Harcourt, former B.C. premier and Vancouver mayor, to share their experience planning communities for the future with the goal to spur discussion about Nanaimo’s identity and goals.

“We’ve been talking about these issues for well over a year now,” said Kim Smythe, spokesman for the group of Nanaimo citizens organizing the event.

But group failed to get a satisfactory response when they asked local business and community leaders about the vision for Nanaimo.

“We’ve come up with a lot of blank stares,” Smythe said.

The group, which is an ad-hoc committee of residents without a formal tie to any organization, planned the rally to drum up ideas to define Nanaimo.

“We’ve been an ex-resource community for 50 years,” Smythe said. “If you don’t have a vision, what is ‘ahead’?”

To get the discussion going, Melamed will talk about how Whistler took a hard look at its post-Olympic future to focus on growth and sustainability. It’s a similar situation to what Nanaimo is facing now, said Smythe.

Harcourt, since leaving politics in the mid-1990s, was appointed to the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee for Cities and Communities and co-chaired the UN Habitat World Forum in Vancouver in 2006.

“He knows the value of communities reaching for a vision – from within the community – to follow,” Smythe said.

The audience will have a chance to respond and question the speakers after each presentation. Smythe said organizers expect current councillors and those running for a seat in November’s municipal elections to attend and talk about their own vision for Nanaimo.

“We fully expect that,” he said.

The vision rally is set for Wednesday (Oct. 5) at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. Tickets $12.50 through the Port Theatre ticket centre at 250-754-8550 or www.porttheatre.com.