Archive for November, 2008

Notes from the Chair


The official neighbourhood plan is a BIG thing for our neighbourhood and something that we have been advocating for over the past several years.  The decision to proceed reflects our long worked for standing and respect with the city and provides us with a real opportunity to shape the long term future of the neighbourhood.  Aside from the detailed planning involved it also has the potential to strengthen our relationship with city hall and influence the processes that impact us.  The plan will likely take about a year and will involve a fair bit of work.  Hopefully you will all be interested in the process and helping out where possible.


We will be voting in our new board at the AGM on December 3.  Anyone interested in standing please let me know in advance (250 754 0677) and I’ll get you on the ballot.  A reminder that anyone standing for office or wishing to vote needs to be a resident of the south end and a member in good standing of SECA for the three months prior to the AGM.


My best wishes for all of you as we head into the holiday season!


Douglas Hardie



A Neighbourhood Plan for the South End!


Finally it’s a reality. SECA has long been advocating for an official neighbourhood plan and Wednesday, November 19 marked the beginning of an exciting and important chapter for our neighbourhood.  The SECA executive met with representatives from the City Planning Department to begin discussions about how the process will unfold over the next year.


The purpose of the neighbourhood plan is to provide residents and businesses with an opportunity to shape the way that we want to see out neighbourhood develop in the future.  The plan deals with all kinds of land use issues, park and recreation amenities and any other important issues that we believe impacts our neighbourhood now and in the future.


The goal is to involve as many people as possible in the process so that everyone gets to contribute to the plan.  To that end the Steering Committee in conjunction with various city planners will be hosting a series of open houses and workshops with a goal of inviting participation and informing the neighbourhood about the plan’s progress and development.


The planning process is a collaboration between residents and city officials who will guide the process, provide various resources, and ensure that the plan develops in a way that is consistent with the principles outlined in the Official Community Plan.


Ultimately our plan will be presented to council for ratification, and should, in theory, guide planning and development in the neighbourhood for years to come.  The plan will allow us to address land use issues such as:

  • the problems associated with locating residential and industrial together

  • the kind of housing density that we might want to encourage

  • the Nicol Street corridor

  • parks and recreation

  • ways that we can address the social issues that are such a concern to all of us.


Change is a slow and difficult process but it starts with a vision of where we want to go, an appreciation for our many strengths and resources and a determination to see it through to fruition.  Watch this space for more details!

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Our AGM is on Wednesday December 3.  This is the perfect time to renew your membership (a bargain at $5), and to elect our board for the coming year.  And of course, we normally do a little festive noshing as well.

Bring some nibblies, we’ll socialize and eat at 6 PM, and the meeting will start at 7 PM. We’ve got a full agenda…so much going on right now. And of course, we’ll likely head to the pub after the meeting is over.

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At the Filling Station (the former Jolly Miner), Friday November 28 between 6 and 9 PM. Tickets are $10.00 each.  It’s not a big place, and tickets are selling quickly, so if you want to come for sure, call and get your ticket in advance.

If you can help us out with a donation, we’d be eternally grateful.

  • Don’t limit yourself to the ordinary…at last month’s SECA meeting, the wish list extended from Christmas gifts to all kinds of services and even practical items like loads of gravel.
  • If you don’t have a business, consider something that no longer has personal value, like that wedding gift from your ex-mother-in-law.
  • Consider offering a dinner party for 4 or 6 people.  You’ll be able to brag that people are willing to PAY for your cooking.
  • Or even a personal service that you can provide i.e. some computer coaching, an hour of weed-whacking or oven cleaning (hey, I’d buy BOTH of those.)

You can drop donations off until Wednesday afternoon (Nov 26) at Sandra’s Head-to-Toe Salon, 721 Haliburton Street.

For tickets or more information, please call Sandra Zuccolini at Sandra’s Head-to-Toe Salon 753-1394 or Moni Murray at the Nanaimo International Hostel  753-1188.

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Trashy Art Bin Day


What a fun day we had on Saturday November 8!  About 50 people turned up over the course of the day to release their inner artist.  Click here for a great review of the day from one of our painters, along with some wonderful photos.

Or here for the write-up in the Nanaimo Daily News (nice photo in print version didn’t make it online.)

We also got a nice article in the News Bulletin.

We’re just in the process of determining where the painted bins will go.  If you would like more information about or are interested in fostering a bin, please call Sandra Zuccolini at 753-1394.

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South End Votes

Our election website, South End Votes, received 4,100 visits over the 4 week period before the local election.  Our goal was to both raise profile for the South End with local politicians and to give neighbours both the information and incentive to get out and vote.  How did we do?  Well, we know from the press received that we DID raise awareness.  Whether we managed to encourage voting is still unclear…the cancellation of the polling station at Bayview School was a disappointment, and we were unable to determine how many voters from the South End actually turned out.

If you want to see how the South End voted (compared to the city as a whole, click here.  You can also read comments.

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Deverill Park Update


Kirsty MacDonald, Parks and Open Space Planner for City of Nanaimo Parks Recreation and Culture Dept reported in on the playground progress:
…safety surfacing for the playground [was] installed Thursday November 13.  The playground [was] open for play right after that.  We will be back in the park early 2009 to install the spray park and trike trail.

On a related note, we’ve been hoping to create a neighbourhood island at the intersection of Irwin and Milton Streets (where the barricade is). Douglas came up with the brilliant idea of planting a tree there in memory of Gino Sedola.  Kirsty’s response was:

The idea of planting the tree and creating a neighbourhood node of information at the road closure at Irwin and Milton is doable.  We can’t do [a] bench (we no longer have a memorial bench program) but certainly trees, art, and a bulletin board are possibilities.

Engineering is planning utility upgrades along Irwin for 2009 and the node at the road closure and accessible parking for the park along Irwin will be completed then.  So, it would not be an immediate opportunity, but certainly one for next spring or fall.

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The Southenders is an excellent collection of stories from the neighborhood we love. I really want to thank Laura Ramsey for putting this book together. Sometimes you will laugh, and other times you will be on the verge of tears. But I don’t see this book as only providing entertainment or “remember when” sentiments. The Southenders is a virtual text book of what constitutes a community and a constant reminder about what has been lost. Anyone interested in overcoming the social problems in the South End should study this book. It is a good read for anyone, anywhere, who seeks to restore the notion of community. As we now begin the process of developing a Neighborhood Plan, time would be well spent reflecting upon the nature of the old South End and consideration of the lessons rooted in its history.

On numerous occasions the authors mention “everything you needed was within walking distance”. Haliburton Street had about a dozen shops strung along six blocks; a supermarket, general store, fish and chips shop, ice cream parlor, butchers, a laundry, to name but half of them. They were all owned by local people.

What does this mean? Haliburton was an active pedestrian street. The more people you have on the street the less likely the occurrence of anti-social behaviour. Local ownership means money generated by sales circulates in the community. Such shops tend to buy local produce, which in turn helps the Nanaimo region. Neighborhood businesspeople are a stabilizing factor in any community. Walkability means less auto traffic and less need for cars. This means a quieter neighborhood, safer streets and less need to spend money on transportation.

Community rooted business helps create the situation where “everyone knows everybody.” This gives rise to a sustaining, secure, environment, most especially for children. In the old South End, children spent their days unsupervised and devised their own play. They could do this because their living situation was secure, a result of living in a true community.

There was ethnic diversity, but social and demographic stability, rooted in little divergence between wealth and poverty. Everyone, shop
keeper, miner or auto mechanic, had more or less the same level of income or as mentioned, “We were all poor by today’s standards.” No one was homeless. Though not mentioned in the book, housing was not overly expensive relative to income.

No one writing about the old South End mentions addicts, though some folks undoubtedly liked their “likker.” Happy people do not become addicts. Lack of community, which means lack of connection and lack of roots, creates “social anomie” often called alienation. Some people turn to harmful drugs to fill their empty, dislocated, fragmented lives.

Work was integrated into the community. While we do not wish to return to the the coal mines or have screeching saw mills in our back yards, the South End was a place of work. This was not a “bedroom community” but a 24 hour a day community. There was no commuting, people were only minutes from their work and could walk.

By the 1950’s the mines had closed and there were not enough neighborhood industries to absorb the work force. By the early 1960’s all across Canada, shopping centres were the new craze, and malls built in the 1970’s featured national chain stores, both sounding the death knell for many small neighbourhood shops.  Suburbs sprung up, with a greater focus on the back yard than front porch.

The stories in The Southenders reminded me of that front porch time, encouraged me to think about the future of the neighborhood as a community restored. I see once once again, an integration of residence, consumption, work and leisure. Shops along Haliburton, and not corporate logos either, but locally owned. Non-invasive businesses employing residents. Affordable housing, including housing cooperatives, low cost condos, secondary suites and lane cottages to maintain the demographic mix of working class, lower-income professional and small business people. New shops with apartments above them on the second and third floors. Allotment gardens for the apartment dwellers. No homeless, as they now have inexpensive rooms. Drug addicts receiving treatment, both detox and therapy. Expanded park facilities and a community centre hosting all manner of get-togethers. Less traffic and better conditions
for walking and cycling.

That’s what my version of a restored South End looks like. What do you see as the future of our neighborhood? Please don’t hesitate to share your vision with us, here, at What’s Up in the South End.

~Larry Gambone

New Book Celebrates the South End – Nanaimo Daily News

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It was the early thirties, not long after the stock market crashed, and times were tough everywhere. In Nanaimo, miners would get off shift at the Number One coal mine and walk home.  Just outside of the mine property was a big old run down house. The  family who lived there really felt the pressure of the times. The father hadn’t worked for two years and it was very hard to feed ten children on relief.

Out of necessity the children would go outside just at shift change and wait for the miners to pass. If any of the men had anything left from their lunches, they would gladly share with the children.

One day John Mackenzie gave one of the boys a Peanut Butter Log. Just as he was about to take a bite his brother yelled “Don’t eat ‘um Dick, it’s poop.” In disgust, Dick threw the cookie to the ground. The brother who shouted the warning jumped off the fence lightning quick and gobbled down the chocolate morsel.

I remember hearing that story when I was a child and to this day those Peanut Butter Logs are known as Don’t Eat ‘Um Dicks.

Submitted by: Glenda Nikirk (nee: Ramsay) b. 1958


We understand that there’s a recipe after this story, reprinted from The Southenders. If Nanaimo is famous for Nanaimo Bars, perhaps there’s a signature dessert opportunity for the South End here?

Laura Ramsay telling stories at her book launch

Laura Ramsay telling stories at her book launch

Laura Ramsay’s book, The Southenders, was launched on November 8, promptly selling out the initial run of copies.  But never fear, the staff at the new Nanaimo Museum are currently printing a second run right now.

So if you’re looking for that certain Christmas gift for someone with ties to the South End, this might be it.  You can pick it up at the Museum (call 753 1821 to ensure that it’s in stock)…a large book and 152 pages with lots of stories, newspaper clippings and pictures ranging from the 1800’s to today.  Reasonably priced at $14.95.

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