Thursday, September 24, 2020

Shelve Sandstone!

Sunday, September 20, 2020


Saturday, September 19, 2020

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The by-design, vertically integrated,
local and regional food economy. Part three

Part one and two recap : From securing the business of local and regional anchor institutions, entering into professional level supply contracts with these institutions; to taking advantage of import replacement and economic gardening opportunities; to offering pooled strategic marketing, legal and finance supports to craft producers, restaurants, and local farms and farmers’ markets, the strong basis of a vertically integrated local food economy ecosystem can be established. Then things get ambitious.
The skills, experience and knowledge to build the local food economy are present locally in abundance. A refocused City economic development arm has the ability, properly tasked, to work with current local food enterprises to create a public good far greater than the sum of the parts.
The crown atop the food economy ecosystem, the creation of a City-owned public market, anchoring catalyst of an ambitious vision of downtown renewal and regeneration requires talents not available here or in any but the largest cities in the country. Around the world, pubic markets are key municipal assets that, done right, punch above their weight economically, socially and culturally. This is where the local food economy can achieve real security by connecting consumers, at scale, with the local food economy ecosystem. To realize the vision of a Nanaimo City-owned public market catalyzing downtown urban renewal and regeneration the following are imperative :
  • The re-reinstatement immediately of the role of Chief Planner, a progressive proactive hire reporting directly to the City Manager, the CAO.
  • The creation by a skilled team of professionals, chosen through an RFP competitive process, a city-centre specific urban plan.
  • The creation as recommended by the Downtown Waterfront Initiative headed by former VIU VP Dave Witty of a Public Development Corporation.
There is now a much loved and respected community market, Island Roots. They’ve done especially well coping with the COVID-19 pandemic offering innovative ways to support local producers and their customers. They have a proposal in front of the City to expand at their present location, a large park outside the urban core. I’ve expressed my concerns that the market will struggle at this location, unable to benefit from the mix of activities around it and unable then to benefit others in a mutually supportive way. The proposed Island Roots Co-op Market at Beban Park

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The by-design, vertically integrated,
local and regional food economy. Part two

Supper the other night —al fresco— at a new restaurant downtown. Every sprout, every salad green and root vegetable, even the ribeye steak sourced locally.
The farm-to-table movement is one element of the vertically integrated local and regional food economy I wrote about in part one.
The farm-to-table movement and many of the elements of a local food economy are in place now. Missing is an organizing authority to work with each element, to coordinate, to grow the mutually advantageous elements of the local food economy ecosystem.
This requires a rethinking of the role of the City’s economic development arm. A reversal of focus from searching far and wide for the large branch plant employer to nurturing and growing the resilient local economy. Craft producers — brewers, wineries, distillers; startups, farms, market gardens, restaurants, farmers' markets, specialties and related enterprises. With the foundational work described in part one done, local economic development would hold monthly public presentations on starting a business in the local food economy, connecting startups and established businesses with resources: legal, accounting, marketing, regulatory.
And one econ-dev function would be to invite submission of business ideas. Qualifying ideas would go into an intense incubation period, the outcome of which would be a completed business plan ready to present to lenders and investors. Alternative business models like co-ops and social enterprises should be stressed. And City economic development would be looking to partner with financial institutions especially Island-based credit unions to create innovative financing and investment tools.
I took just such an incubator at VIU years ago that resulted in a business my wife and I grew and sold in 2009. Joint federal funding was available for this incubator then and no doubt would be now.
A re-focused economic development arm would investigate local applications of concepts like import replacement and economic gardening (an entrepreneurial approach to economic development that seeks to grow the local economy from within). Economic gardening is being applied successfully on a large scale, growing already large enterprises larger. Local focus would be to identify smaller enterprises in need of financial or marketing, planning or legal assistance, to grow larger, each creating new employment.
Earlier post : On a self-reliant, resilient and regenerative local economy. 1 Next : up the chain to the downtown public market catalyzing renewal in the urban core.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Urban planning

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Nanaimo City Centre neighbourhoods, comparative data. 2016 Census

As of the 2016 Census the Nanaimo City Centre neighbourhoods were populated more densely than the City of Nanaimo average, they were poorer than the City average, 4 of the 6 held fewer bachelor level university degrees and all but 2, downtown and Brechin, were younger.
The three major public anchor institutions are located in the City Centre, Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, Vancouver Island University and the City of Nanaimo administrative, technological and public works centres. A large centralized recreational facility with swimming pool and ice rink is also located within the City Centre. (Trend in both the public and private sectors to centralize and consolidate has had negative consequences for the urban design of cities, what economists call "externalities." To "build back better” post-COVID we'll need to reverse that trend.)
The public institutions that comprise the arts and culture sector are clustered in close proximity in the urban core. The public art gallery, the Port Theatre, the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, the museum, the central library. The City Council Chamber is accessed from downtown's High Street, Commercial Street.
These Nanaimo City Centre neighbourhoods were home to 33% of Nanaimo’s population while occupying only 17% of the city's land area. This is the heart of the city, its economic, social, and cultural engine.
These are the most environmentally sustainable neighbourhoods in the city. The population density and proximity of shops and services, schools and public spaces, result in it being more likely that these are accessed without a car. A higher percentage of households live more compactly, in condos and apartments with shared walls, dramatically increasing heating efficiency. It’s well established that transportation and building heating account for 30-40% of the carbon we put in the atmosphere.
These, in other cities, are the neighbourhoods, the oldest in the city, where Form-Based Code zoning has been successful. Creating from the “good bones” of the older neighbourhoods more resilient places "where people can work, shop, learn and play within a 15-minute walk or bike ride, the 15-minute city... “an economy-booster”
Urban3 and Strong Towns research looking at city taxation revenues by acre and cost-per-citizen of delivering city services shows that city centre neighbourhoods punch above their weight. Similar analysis here would show that these Nanaimo neighbourhoods pay for sprawl where taxation and user fee revenues are less per acre and the cost-per-citizen to the city of providing services and amenities higher.
We’ve underinvested in these neighbourhoods. We’ve focused too much on neighbourhood-harming private car infrastructure.
Street trees and sidewalks; traffic calming; mobility and accessibility mode alternatives; public spaces, both grassy parks and playgrounds but also, importantly, small urban squares that facilitate neighbourly encounters. Livability goals, making these neighbourhoods all the more desirable, can be met here by careful urban design planning specific to the city centre, while increasing population density across this area. One size does not fit all. This area needs its own urban design plan.
Geospatial analysis of each of these neighbourhoods with link to full 2016 Census StatsCan data can be found here.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

City Centre geospatial analysis. 7. Census Tract 9380015 The Downtown Core

Nanaimo Census Tract 9380015, The Downtown Core, is 1.9 km² in land area (adjusted for Protection Island) with a population of 4,969. 2,795 households in 3,100 dwellings, 1,640 rent and 1,185 own. Average age : 49.1 years. Average after-tax household income (2015): $46,080. Population density is 2,576 per km². Demographic data : Census Profile, 2016 Census 9380015.00 [Census tract], British Columbia and Nanaimo [Census agglomeration], British Columbia