GUEST COMMENT: Nanaimo prepares for uncertain future

NANAIMO – There are a number of reasons why Harbour City may want to engage in the emerging Successful City dialogue.

By Dave Witty

There are a number of reasons why Nanaimo may want to engage in the emerging Successful City dialogue.

There’s a chance to advance its economical, environmental and social agendas, a chance to raise the profile and importance of the built-environment and cultural considerations in that dialogue, a chance to reach out to all aspects of the community to engage in conversations, a chance to raise awareness about the important considerations that shape well-being and quality of life in our city, and a chance to reflect on its future from a broad multi-dimensional perspective.

Anyone of those reasons is worthy of some effort. But, combined, they provide a compelling case for advancing the Successful City agenda.

Recently, a news item noted the City of Nanaimo, Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and Vancouver Island University partnered to promote Nanaimo as one of British Columbia’s most successful cities. The three partners coined their effort: Inspire Nanaimo: A Successful City Initiative. Please see Inspire Nanaimo website at

But what do the partners hope to accomplish?

The partners intend to develop a broad based community driven discussion of what it would mean for Nanaimo to be British Columbia’s most successful city from the perspective of its built-environment, cultural considerations, economic considerations, natural environment considerations and social considerations.

The three believe all five considerations form the basis for a solid foundation upon which a successful Nanaimo can evolve and prosper in the fullest sense.  No one consideration in isolation will be enough to address the future.

Nanaimo’s future, like that for other cities, will be tested by continued economic and environmental challenges. The partners believe that, by working together, we (and Nanaimo) will be better able to dialogue, reflect, adapt, and prosper culturally, economically, environmentally and socially. They believe a Nanaimo which offers a high quality of life for all its community members will be well on the way to becoming one of B.C.’s most successful cities.

Inspire Nanaimo is moving to a broadly-based organization composed of like-minded citizens and organizations that support the concept of Nanaimo becoming one of B.C.’s most successful cities. In order to ensure Inspire Nanaimo is a community-driven initiative, the partners have proposed that a steering committee representing a cross-section of Nanaimo and the five considerations (built environment, cultural, economic, natural environment and social) be formed to guide Nanaimo.

The steering committee will be chosen from a list of nominations by a panel composed of the three partners and Nanaimo residents Don Bonner and Carol Matthews. The nomination process can be found at: http://inspire

It is anticipated individuals will be appointed for two years, meet once per month and engage with the broader community. It is hoped the steering committee will report back to the community June 2015, outlining how Nanaimo can be B.C.’s most successful city, what actions are needed to achieve that goal and what tools are needed to measure that work.


David Witty is provost and vice-president (academic) Vancouver Island University. He is trained as an urban planner and urban designer.