Archive for December, 2012

Last Saturday was doomsday for two big old bushes of daphne at the Chase River Estuary park. The nasty invasive plants are finding a good home in our parks, but thanks to Charles and Naomi they have suffered a first defeat. Together we pulled two bushes who were overtaking other plants, close to the entrance of the park.daphne
Special thanks to Kathy, who helped us all stay warm and cheerful.

Your park warden for Chase River will be on a long vacation as from now, but everyone can keep help our parks in tiptop shape. Visit and use your parks, and take action when needed. Pick up small litter (before it ends up in the river), and let the city know if something needs to be done (erosion or damage). Tip: carry a small plastic bag when you go out on a trail, then you can keep your hands clean 🙂

Wonderful warm holidays to you all, and see you in 2013!

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Waterfront walkway study may help beat ‘formidable obstacles’

Effort would aimed at finding where city should invest money for enhancement

Tamara Cunningham, Daily News

Published: Saturday, December 22, 2012

A waterfront study could find new ways to push past the “formidable obstacles” facing an extended waterfront walkway, city officials say.

Read the rest here.

(Given what is happening, it may be easier to bring the walkway south than north…:)

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Project could create hub for transportation

Mayor touts spin off benefits of project

Tamara Cunningham, Daily News

Published: Thursday, December 20, 2012

The city’s potential land-purchase along the south industrial waterfront could spur development and transform the area into a “transportation hub,” says Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan.

Read article here.

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A building of many words…Tell Us Yours!

We are so pleased, and privileged, to have the Nanaimo Center Stage as a local theatre venue right in our own south end neighbourhood. But it hasn’t always been so diverse, or bright but perhaps just as theatrical…

The building that houses Nanaimo Center Stage, sandwiched between Victoria Rd and Nicole St, has spent its years cycling between the use of a church, pub, night club and now an impressively active theatre. We want to hear your stories, and experiences of how this building (or the operations inside) have brought a smile, laugh or fond memory to your life.

Tell us how you feel in love there, how you caught someone making a bold move, in the past and recently, we want to hear your many words of how the Nanaimo Center Stage building benefits our neighbourhood with culture and a rich history.

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The BIG news for we South Enders is not so much the possibility of a multiplex, but the purchase of part of our waterfront.

Multiplex talks heat up once again

City buys large piece of waterfront land

Robert Barron, Daily News

Published: Friday, December 14, 2012

The subject of a new sports and entertainment centre in Nanaimo is being raised again after a recent visit to the city by officials from RG Properties and the city’s purchase of a large portion of the waterfront Wilcox Railway Lands.

Read the rest of the article here.

Interesting comments below…check them out.

And another article on Saturday:

Land-purchase deal hinges on key environmental review

Agreement would see city purchase 27-acre Wellcox Railway Lands downtown

Robert Barron, Daily News

Published: Saturday, December 15, 2012

A deal that will see the City of Nanaimo acquire the 27-acre Wellcox Railway Lands downtown is contingent on an environmental review of the active industrial site.

Click here to read.

And another on Tuesday

Snuneymuxw chief irked city didn’t consult on Wellcox

Tamara Cunningham, Daily News

Published: Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Nanaimo city officials did not include the Snuneymuxw First Nation in discussions for a new transit exchange in south Nanaimo, an oversight Chief Doug White calls “disappointing” and difficult to understand.

Click here to read.


City purchases waterfront rail yard downtown

This article in the Saturday News Bulletin mentions that community consultation will begin in 2013. 
Interesting quotes by Councillor Diane Brennan.
By Toby Gorman – Nanaimo News Bulletin
Published: December 14, 2012 3:00 PM

The City of Nanaimo has entered into a purchase agreement to secure a key piece of property in Nanaimo’s downtown core.

Click here to read.

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Click here to access it.

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To Be, or Not to Be? THAT is the question.

At the last City Council meeting on Monday, December 3, 2012, City Council voted to consider spending up to $800,000 over a 5-year period in exterior building repairs to Nanaimo Centre Stage. Over the next few months they will decide between making a long-term investment in Nanaimo Centre Stage or selling the building and terminating our current License of Use.

Over the past week, we have received many phone calls and emails from our renters and patrons with questions and concerns about our next steps moving forward and what we can all do to work together to preserve the future of Nanaimo Centre Stage. The Centre for the Arts Nanaimo (CAN)  board of directors and staff would like to thank all of you for offering your pro‑active support for Nanaimo Centre Stage.

Is NCS worth saving?
Absolutely! Nanaimo Centre Stage is used by almost 30 unique arts and cultural organizations. 70% of those organizations are local. We maximize profits for our artists, allowing them to run their own bar, concession, merchandise tables, and box office. We have built in technical equipment so renters do not have to bring in outside rental equipment. We offer a flat fee on rent and do not take percentages or charge additional fees on the above-mentioned items. We have three long-term tenants who operate exclusively from NCS and consider it home. These organizations depend on this unique space to operate their businesses and have made a long term commitment to working with us.

But this isn’t solely about providing a home for arts groups. There is much more at stake here. Our renters run the gamut of cultural and community institutions. Our facility has been used by live theatre, music, film, cultural & community advocacy, visual arts, First Nations, youth, health and business organizations. NCS serves more than just one purpose for Nanaimo.

During the 4 years that we have been open, we have fast become a cultural institution in the South End community. We see this reflected in many of the users and patrons of this theatre, and I can personally speak to this, not only within my position at the theatre, but also as a resident of the South End neighbourhood. NCS is not only my place of work, it is also the hub of my community. I know nearly all of the neighbouring residents on our block and they are happy and excited that we are there, and I talk with many of them on a regular basis about the shows and activities that are happening at the theatre.

Just in the past two months there have been two new businesses which have moved in next door to NCS, into a building that sat vacant for nearly a year, directly because of our existence. Lately, it has become a challenge to find a parking space on the street due to the hub of new activity. The neighbourhood is safer, more lively, and more active because of our presence.

The official South End Community Plan adopted by the City of Nanaimo in 2010 envisions Victoria Road as a main pedestrian thoroughfare as Nanaimo grows and the density in the downtown core increases. Our colleagues and the patrons at theatre already see this happening. There is a positive, healthy buzz on Victoria Road, and we know we are at the beginning of a turning point in the South End. If the investment is made now and we continue our long term commitment to the cultural vitality of the neighbourhood, in the next decade the South End will be a renewed, vibrant extension of our City Centre. Nanaimo Centre Stage is vital to the revitalization of the South End neighbourhood.

A venue like NCS is a place where people come together. It is a place that is accessible, and it is a place that inspires people. It is a place where dreams manifest. It is a starting point. As manager at NCS, I have had many conversations with people who have walked in the doors, who have seen the stage, who have seen the sound and lighting equipment, and the other amenities we offer the community, and have said, “You mean, I can rent this space? I could do an event here?”


And I have watched those very same people go on to create incredible shows and events that bring the community together. If you have rented Nanaimo Centre Stage, if you have walked through the doors to watch a play, or hear a concert, or dance at a party, you know exactly what I am talking about and you have shared in that passion.

Is the building too run down and old to save?
Absolutely not. An initial engineering assessment done by Herold Engineering in 2008 says the building requires no seismic upgrades. In addition, the second engineering report completed by Reed Jones Christofferson in 2012 confirmed that the foundation of the building is solid and in good repair.

Initial upgrades to the building in 2008 brought the building up to Building Code regulations, improving wheelchair accessibility, fire and safety requirements. Since CVI Centre for the Arts-Nanaimo has held the License of Use for the building, we have invested over $50,000 in interior building upgrades. These include the purchase of a new fuel-efficient heating system, interior renovations, re-carpeting, painting and other minor cosmetic repairs. In all of our repairs we have not encountered any major issues with the interior structures of the building, and many of our renovations and upgrades have come in under budget. We have plans to install a proper dance floor in front of the stage, upgrade the washroom facilities, and make a few more minor interior repairs, but most of the building is in good to excellent condition and requires no major repairs or renovations. It is just the exterior of the building that needs attention.

Can’t we just put the money toward a new theatre?
Nanaimo Centre Stage was not built in a day, or even a few years. Before we even opened our doors in December 2008, it took years of planning, meetings, feasibility studies, and searching to find an appropriate location. Knowing the cost of a new small, rehearsal and performance space, we had to wait for the opportunity to acquire a suitable existing space, and working with the City, the Downtown Nanaimo Partnership Society, and many of the local arts organizations and patrons, this was achieved with the building at 25 Victoria Road. It has taken nearly a decade of work by many, many hands and minds to make NCS what it is today. It would take years, possibly a decade or more, and possibly a few million dollars more to re-establish something similar. Nanaimo, the arts & culture community and the South End community would be without an integral cultural institution for many years to come.

Does the City really need to spend over $800,000 to save NCS?
Not necessarily. The current report presented to Council is a black and white scenario; either approve $800,000 over 5 years or sell the building. As we all know, artists don’t think in black and white, we prefer colour. We are innovative problem solvers and look at a wide range of solutions, and we are experts at adapting and acquiring resources to create our work. Over the next little while, we will be exploring whether there are alternatives to the scenario presented to Council. Many of our supporters have already offered suggestions.

There may be capital improvement grants available and public fundraising is definitely an option to cover a portion of the repair and improvement costs.

What can I do to help and get involved?

Write a letter of support to City Council with copy addressed to CAN and let them know how NCS has impacted your life and made a difference in your community. Council email addresses can be found on the City of Nanaimo website here: http://www.nanaimo.ca/EN/main/municipal/city-council/CityCouncil.html and you can send a copy to the CAN office at manager@centrefortheartsnanaimo.org.
Please be kind, respectful, and factual with your message.

Spread the word! Please share this notice with your friends, family, colleagues, and community contacts and encourage them to contact city council and voice their support. If you have a blog or a website, please consider reposting this message or linking to it.

If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to send an email to the CAN office about this topic. Investing in Nanaimo Centre Stage is much more than providing money to a single building that will support a handful of people. CAN created Nanaimo Centre Stage because of a recognized need in the community to provide a small, affordable performance facility, and our many renters and patrons have proved in just a very short few years that it was a worthwhile endeavour. Thousands of people in the community have benefited from our presence. Nanaimo, the South End community, Downtown Nanaimo, and the Nanaimo arts and cultural community have been tremendously enriched by our existence.

With many thanks and hopes for our continued success,

Aaramë Robillard, Manager and the CAN Board of Directors
Nanaimo Centre Stage
CVI Centre for the Arts Nanaimo

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~Margaret Mead

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Saturday December 22 will be doomsday for a stubborn patch of daphne at the Chase River Estuary.
The volunteer park warden will be there between 2 and 3 to pull and cut a patch close to the parking lot.
Do you feel like joining? Bring warm clothes. The city provides gloves, cutters and safety vests for you.
And please give the Thomas, the warden, a quick confirmation if you will be there: 250 797 0682 or thomas_mol@yahoo.com

See you then!


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Another year draws to a close in the life of the south end. Here’s a review of some of what happened and the ongoing and important role that SECA plays in the life of the neighbourhood. I would like to acknowledge the Snuneymuxw First Nation upon whose traditional territory we call home.

Neighbourhood gatherings and events

125th anniversary of the No. 1 Mine disaster, May 7, 2012.

SECA hosted a very special event at the memorial kiosk at the old No 1 mine site commemorating this formative event in the city’s history. The development of the memorial kiosk has been a long term project, initiated by Charles Torhjelm many years ago, and greatly enhanced this year thanks to the energy and drive of Joan Carruthers who worked closely with the city around the landscaping and signage improvements. Thanks to Gail Pasaluko, City of Nanaimo Horticulturist and Chris Sholberg for his work on the new signage. It was a moving event for all who attended and reminded us again of our connection to our coal-mining heritage and the terrible working conditions endured by Nanaimo’s early settlers.

20th Annual Miners Heritage Picnic, June 24, 2012

A special celebration this year, our 20th picnic, and largest annual gathering for the south end and beyond. It’s a measure of how strong we are, both as a grass roots organisation and a community that this event has been such an enduring success. There’s a lot of volunteer work involved, we rely on the annual generosity of our sponsors and donors, and the whole project is brought to life by the south end residents who turn up in their droves and make it such a joyous occasion.

Chase River Park Celebration April 28, 2012

This park is a hidden gem in our neighbourhood and our (almost) annual gathering and celebration promotes it’s use and well-being and thanks to Charles Thirkall et al provides an opportunity for children and families to learn about and appreciate this unique part of our eco-system.

A nod to Lavender Lane!

Residents of the now proudly named “Lavender Lane” demonstrated inspiring leadership in our neighbourhood as they came together to tackle some of the concerns that they shared. In the process they transformed not only the physical well being of the area but also the sense of connection and support amongst the neighbours.

Beautification and neighbourhood improvements.

A big thank you to Thomas Molineaux who has, in his quiet, respectful way made a major contribution to the well being of our parks. Thomas signed up for the City’s Volunteer In the Parks Program and has been actively engaged in the monitoring and improvement of both Deverill Square Park and Chase River Park. This kind of stewardship from within our community has been a missing piece. Thomas and a number of volunteers organized a work party to extract ivy from the Chase River Park and also participated in a river clean up organized by VIU’s Dan Fox. Many thanks Thomas and we wish you well in your future endeavours. We’ll hold the job for your return!

Art Bins

The change to the city’s garbage schedule put significant pressure on our art bin population as excess household waste migrated to the bins. This seems to have settled down, and the art bins are doing what they do best, keeping garbage off our streets. Thanks to all who continue in their commitment to this important neighbourhood project

SECA will hopefully be partnering with the city to plant a further block of trees along Haliburton Street this spring. Stand by for more details

SECA Campaigns

SECA, with Pat Portsmouth in the vanguard, has been advocating for the installation of traffic lights at the south end of Haliburton Street. A recent presentation at city council signalled that we may have been successful in this regard and we look forward to the installation of this important safety item. Thanks to Doug Routley for his help with this and to Mayor and Council for their support.

SECA has engaged with the current debate regarding the Nanaimo Boat Basin and the changes in the operation and stewardship of this important community resource. Thanks to Joan Carruthers for all her work on this issue.
Community Safety

The issue of community safety resurfaced this past year with a worrying return to some of the street level drug activity that had been largely absent for some years. There have been a number of factors involved and SECA has participated in addressing those on a number of different levels, including close Liaison with RCMP and property owners, engaging in the nuisance property by law process. Once again I would like to thank Dave Laberge and his team at Nanaimo RCMP for the tremendous efforts they have made in our neighbourhood over the past year. Thanks also to the City Of Nanaimo By Law Services Dept who have worked so effectively to address nuisance properties. SECA has been in good contact with owners of our two hotels and with the support of the RCMP there is a sense that we may all be pulling in the same direction.

New Developments in the neighbourhood

NYSA has taken possession of the old White House and are busy renovating this landmark home to provide housing to youth who are launching their work careers. Steve Arnett and his board has been in contact with SECA and attended a meeting at which they outlined their plans, responded to our questions and concerns and committed to being good and responsible neighbour.

Samaritan House has development plans also and SECA participated in a design charette that looked at their development plans. SECA will continue to be engaged with both these projects and work to ensure that we play our part and supporting their positive operation and impact upon the neighbourhood.

Peter Presotto.

SECA lost a true and trusted friend in Peter who passed away earlier this year. Peter contributed to SECA in so many ways over the years, as Treasurer and general supporter. A short eulogy to Peter can be viewed on our blog. Our love and best wishes to Vilma.


To Barbara and Larry for the continued, and greatly appreciated work on our blog. Thanks to our MLA’s Leonard Krog and Doug Routley for all your work on our behalf and obvious concern and valued connection to our neighborhood. To Mayor and council for supporting the neighborhood in so many ways and to the many officials with whom we rely upon so much to deliver the services that keep things ticking along. Finally, thanks to all of the SECA membership for all your hard work, friendship and support.

Douglas Hardie
Chair, SECA

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Council votes to consider $800,000 restoration job

Building housing Nanaimo Centre Stage requires updates

Spencer Anderson, Daily News.  Published: Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Nanaimo city council will consider $800,000 in proposed work to restore the Nanaimo Centre Stage building in the upcoming 2013-17 budget process, though several councillors expressed concern with the price tag.

Read rest of article here.

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