Posts Tagged ‘city repair’

More on Community Building

If you’re a fan of City Repair, you may enjoy this slide show in YES magazine that includes some of their newer projects.  There is also an interview with founder Mark Lakeman that is a terrific read, especially if you didn’t make it to the talk we sponsored last year.  It features “10 Courageous Things you can do to Build Community.” It’s always great to have people/ ideas like this in front to us, so we don’t have to figure it all out by ourselves.

On the home front, we do have some interesting local projects that you may not have seen before.  Take a saunter down the lane behind the 100 block of Victoria Road to check out Norm Abbey’s ingenious gate with moving parts.


SECA T-shirts

Thanks for modelling, Leonard!

Being spotted everywhere…:)  If you haven’t got a SECA Tee-shirt, or want another, call Sandra at Sandra’s Head to Toe Salon, 753.1394. Cost is still $20 (no HST added

Neighbourhood Bookshelf

We put out the call last month (we need a new bookshelf) and it has been answered.  We’ve got an amazing design (quirky, of course), and a volunteer builder.  The front doors have appeared, courtesy of  the Chans at Fernville House.

Request 1: Do you have any extra plywood laying about (1/2″  or 5/8″) that you can spare for the shelves?  We need 4 pieces, about 10″ x 40″ and 2 pieces 36″ x 12″.  Happy to cut pieces down to size.  Call Barbara @ 740 0123.

Request 2: We’re a little low on supplies.  Do you have any books that are ready for their next adventure?  Bring them on down to 152 Irwin Street.

What’s Hot:

  • Murder mystery and suspense.
  • Kid’s books.
  • Current paperbacks
  • Current magazines.

To the kind souls who left “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, may the universe repay you big time for your  generosity.

What’s Not:

  • plumbing manuals from the 1950’s
  • economics or chemistry (actually, most) textbooks
  • old magazines like 1982 National Geographics, especially ones with half the pictures ripped out
  • Harlequin romances (are they passe or is it a South End phenomenon?)
  • Readers Digest condensed books
  • Margaret Trudeau’s “Beyond Reason” (sorry, Margaret, hope your new book gets a warmer response..:)

Luckily, the mixed paper bin at Nanaimo Recycling Exchange gobbles old books etc with gusto!

Housing Coops For the South .End?

Coops are a good method of protecting a neighborhood. For one thing, they increase the stock of low-cost housing. This keeps the neighborhood affordable for working people, thus maintaining a community, whereas gentrification can disrupt and fracture a community. Coops are also grass roots democracy in action, as the membership sets up the cooperative and controls it democratically through the coop assembly. This micro-level democracy creates a good foundation for democracy in the larger community.

Case in point, I lived for ten years in Point St. Charles, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Montreal. But it is a safe place to live, and has not undergone extensive gentrification. People are actively involved in the community, rather than being passive renters or householders. This is so, in large measure because Point St. Charles has more housing coops than any other area of its size in Canada.

Coops are usually  better than either rented apartments or condos. How?

They are ideal for the elderly who do not want the insecurity of rental apartments, yet don’t wish to own a house or condo. If you rent you can be kicked out for renovations or condo conversion. Your rent can be increased without your approval. Furthermore, rent has to be paid as long as you live there. Not so with a coop. You own it and when it is paid for your payments cease. (other than taxes and upkeep)

With condos you have a down payment and a mortgage. Not so with a coop, no individual down payment or mortgage. You pay your share of the cost each month until the building is paid for.

Condos are designed by developers, and both design and facilities may not be what you really want. When you form a coop, you decide how it is built and what facilities it has. (Within building code and by-laws, of course.)

Condos can have invasive and undemocratic internal regulations covenanted by the developer and virtually impossible to change. Coop members set the rules.

Condos have monthly fees. Coops generally do not have fees above the monthly payment, depending on the will and needs of the membership.

Info – There are 2186 housing coops in Canada with 92,000 living units or 250,000 people. (2007) Total value, $5. 6 billion. The latter is a figure from 1999, so it is probably more like $10 billion now.


There are various means by which a group of people can finance a housing cooperative. The following is taken directly from the Cooperative Housing Federation Canada (CHF) web site:

“Financial assistance provided to housing co-operatives varies according to the different government programs, for example:

  • low-interest loans for 50 years through direct lending from the federal government’s Crown Corporation for housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
  • grants to reduce construction costs
  • ongoing financial assistance to assist with operating costs, according to various formulas
  • housing allowances to low-income members, administered by the co-operatives.

Federal or provincial housing corporations insure co-op mortgages. In many cases the federal government is the mortgage lender. All housing co-operatives have signed an operating agreements with the applicable level of government of varying terms up to 50 years, though most last for no more than 35 years.

Housing co-operatives financed by the third and last federal program use an index-linked mortgage… These co-ops have set up a stabilization fund through an initial contribution of 3% of the capital costs. This fund provides financial assistance to the housing co-operatives having difficulties that can compromise their long-term viability…

CHF has also set up a risk underwriting fund … to provide loan guarantees that can provide short-term bridge funding to assist with the development of co-op housing and assist existing co-ops in their operations.”

Coop Housing Resources

The Tyee article on coop housing – http://thetyee.ca/News/2010/07/05/CoOpInYourFuture/

CMHC’s Guide to Coop housing, see http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/buho/gucoho/index.cfm

Coop Housing Federation Canada http://www.chfcanada.coop/icahousing/pages/membersearch.asp?op=country&id=2

BC Non-profit Housing Assn. http://www.bcnpha.ca/

BC Coop Housing Foundation http://www.chf.bc.ca/

Larry Gambone

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It was standing room only at Mark Lakeman‘s talk and visual presentation on Sunday Nov. 29.  He told us that City Repair began when a handful of neighbors painted an intersection to slow the traffic. From there the concept grew to include cob benches, tea rooms (both fixed and mobile) tree and verge planting, public art of all description, community gardens and a beautiful village for the homeless. City Repair has now expanded to 20 cities across Canada and the USA.  SECA is already on the right path, according to Mark, both with the projects we are working on and our mindset.

Councilors Fred Pattje and Jim Kipp attended, as did Matt Hussman of the Downtown Nanaimo Partnership, and many city planners. Nice to see a lot of younger people there. Everyone seemed very inspired by the talk.

A big thank you to the Nanaimo Museum and staff and a special thanks to Barbara Densmore who did a fantastic job arranging the meeting.

Click here to see a slideshow of the evening.


MarkLakemanMark Lakeman is a visionary architect, founding member of Portland’s City Repair & the 10-Day Village Building Convergence/VBC, and director of the ecological design firm Communitecture.

Formed in 1996, City Repair was conceived as an “anti-virus” to combat isolation and over-commodification of conventionally designed cities, by literally inserting villages into cities.

Now a national movement, City Repair combines architecture, urban planning, anthropology, community development, public art, permaculture and ecological design in projects that transform public space.

Visit www.cityrepair.org

See pics of Portland City Repair projects from one of our previous posts.  Click here.

The talk was organized by The South End Community Association (SECA) with the support of the Planning Institute of BC, North Vancouver Island Chapter.

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A Great sadness for the loss of Chief Viola Wyse surrounds us all.  Such a remarkable woman and an exceptional leader.  To her family and community:   You will take many steps as you move toward life without her.  Our thoughts are with you as you travel this difficult road.

If you missed any of the media articles, here are a few links:

A tribute in  the Tuesday August 18 Daily News, click HERE.

Coverage of the the ceremonies on Friday August 21, click HERE.


The water pipe upgrade project on Irwin Street between Farquhar and  Milton got started right on time and has been progressing along smoothly.  They are testing the new pipe now before they switch services over.

In the meantime, one tree had to be cut down to make space for the cul-de-sac that is planned at Irwin and Milton.

Irwin and Milton binInterestingly, during the work, the [illegally placed] much coveted ArtBin that was [illegally] fastened to the  curb blocks had to be unfastened.  It  could have been either confiscated by City do-gooders or filched by nefarious no-gooders.  But there it sat.  Do we all secretly know it belongs there now?

We’re talking with both Parks & Rec and neighbours living near the intersection about how to turn the new cul-de-sac into a city-repair style neighbourhood hub.  Stay tuned. (if you’re unfamiliar with city-repair stuff, click HERE to for the slide show from last month’s post.


IPI is rumoured to be moving their glass operations to Duke Point, at least temporarily.  Click here to link to the article in the Aug 1 Nanaimo Daily News.


The Nob Hillers have been having their own version of  “laneway woes.”  Different from the SE, one side of their problem lane has mostly businesses that serve many of the most troubled folks in the area, some with only lane access.  They started off with a laneway walk-through, and then after a clean-up start, held a laneway sale on Aug 1.

Some good positive progress.  But this work is like playing  “Snakes and Ladders.”  A shot of dubious press can undo all the hard effort by residents.

Norm Abbey responded with an excellent letter to the editor (click HERE to read it) , as did Graham Shuley  (click HERE to read it) and the cycle starts again.  It’s one slow step at a time…trudge, trudge.


Thanks to our resources:  Park Planner Kirsty McDonald, Norm Abbey from Neighbours of Nob Hill, and of course, the local newspapers who make us a LOT more interesting.

If you would like to comment, just click on the title and the complete article along with a comment box will magically appear…:)

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The Neighbourhood bookshelf in front of 152 Irwin Street got all prettied up last week for its TV debut next week.

"Hey, I'm not 'the belle of the ball' but I get the job done."

"Hey, I'm not 'the belle of the ball' but I get the job done."

As pretty as it could get.  Its first winter wasn’t great…a few face plants on the sidewalk, neighbours Heather and Harold performed CPR and did a bit of weatherproofing.

But even over the winter books moved constantly, from the quiet young man who discovered the joy of reading through murder mysteries  to the whoops of delight when the right book met the right kid.

Many more books left the shelf than arrived.  My freecycle buddies (3,000 in Nanaimo) helped fill the gap. By June, though, I was too busy to pick them up, and I figured it was time for the shelf to move on to the next stage…looking after itself.

Now you remember...?

Now you remember...?

First, I  let the shelf sit empty, figuring people would “get” it.  Nope.  For almost 2 weeks, the sole book on the shelf was Richard Simmons’ autobiography.  No one even wanted to level out a table leg with it…:(

Next bright idea: put up a sign and ask people to donate.  While that did lead to someone leaving piles of pennies on the shelf, with a little re-wording, books started to trickle in…some directly onto the shelf, others mysteriously left in boxes at my door.  From the neighbours, from freecyclers like Venus, George, Val, & Tara (to name a few), today there’s everything on the shelf from a recent best seller to……..Richard Simmons’ autobiography…:)

The Neighbourhood Bookshelf will be featured on Hidden Heroes on Shaw Cable Channel 4:

  • from 6 PM Wed Sept 2 to 6 PM Thurs Sept 3
  • from 6 PM Sat Sept 5 to 6 PM Monday Sept 7

The show is normally on during the first 15 minutes of the hour.  Thanks to Bill Robinson from Hidden Heroes and Melissa Hall from Shaw TV, who made the interview a lot of fun!

~ Barbara Densmore

If you would like to comment, just click on the title and the complete article along with a comment box will magically appear…:)

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Ok, so lots of content this month…!  How about an art break?  Talented local artist Yvonne VanderKooi has painted the front gates on her house…wonderful..!

SECA newsletter 009

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