Tuesday, May 22, 2018

On a self-reliant, resilient and
regenerative local economy. Introduction

It's not a shortage of housing. It's a shortage of cities. If we define a city as a human settlement with its own self-reliant, resilient and regenerative economy, there’s very few of them. In Canada, maybe six? Nanaimo, where I live, does not qualify as a city by this definition. How do we become a city by this definition? Currently the largest payrolls here are public sector. Family-supporting paychecks that are welcome and appreciated. Fact is, though, the prosperity that backstops these payrolls is not for the most part produced here. It’s produced elsewhere, mostly in BC’s mega-city Vancouver.
There was a bumper sticker a few years ago in Alberta,
“Please God let there be another oil boom. I promise not to piss it all away this time.”
Nanaimo should resist the temptation to become complacent and start now to plant the seeds of a self-reliant, resilient and regenerative economy. Here’s former Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat writing in Maclean’s: Toronto’s unaffordable. Why can’t Halifax or Saskatoon take advantage? https://www.macleans.ca/economy/torontos-unaffordable-why-cant-halifax-or-saskatoon-take-advantage/
"Take downtown Toronto: it encompasses just 17 of the city’s 613 square kilometres, yet is home to 275,000 people, and is growing four times faster than the city as a whole. Over 75 per cent of these people walk, cycle or take transit to their jobs, which generate 53 per cent of the city’s export-based GDP. There is both an economic and a quality-of-life value to having people in close proximity.”
Your future is downtown, Nanaimo.


  1. I couldn't agree more. But let's not forget Vancouver represents a source of wealth particularly for the creative community. If we can live in Nanaimo because the lifestyle is less expensive, while earning our money in Vancouver we do a great deal to improve the resilence of our own city. Better cheaper, communication between here and Vancouver would be a boon for the province and especially this city. By better communication I mean a fast foot passsenger ferry connecting downtown Nanaimo with downtown Vancouver. If we could improve housing stock in downtown Nanaimo while encouraging the new ferry we would have the best of all situations where a large segment of our population would need a car at all, and even more of the wealth recieved could be retained for our use.

  2. Keesmaat sings from the Richard Florida hymnbook (and Jeff Speck and economist Edward Glaeser and many others do too and they all in turn share a grounding in Jane Jacobs economics). They say research data backs up the claim that “there is both an economic and a quality-of-life value to having people in close proximity.”

    She uses Portland as a model, lessons here for Nanaimo for sure. Portland “consistently and diligently executing a plan that, for more than 40 years, rejected sprawl, and instead linked land use with transportation planning, economic development, green spaces and strong neighbourhoods. It’s been more resilient than most American cities, priding itself on a startup culture that includes everything from microbreweries to green-tech companies—industries that ensured it rebounded better than pretty much any city since the Great Recession.