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Neighbourhood Planning

Neighbourhood planning is critical to achieving the objectives of the City's Official Community Plan (planNanaimo).  While planNanaimo sets out the overarching objectives and policies for the city, neighbourhood plans speak to the specific needs and desires of the communities within the city in the context of the city-wide plan.  Neighbourhood planning in particular, brings together the broader needs of the community with the local knowledge of the neighbourhood.  In this regard, local community involvement is the cornerstone.  Successful neighbourhood plans incorporate land use strategies that respond to the broader issues of the community in a way that contributes to creating more livable neighbourhoods.

What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan is a set of guidelines outlining how an area should grow and change over time.

A Neighbourhood Plan deals primarily with land use decisions such as how best to accommodate an increase in population over the next 10 to 25 years, in terms of housing, recreation needs, increased traffic, public transit, impacts on the environment, commercial needs etc.

Land use decisions must take into account economic and social impacts. Obviously, a land use decision, such as whether or not to support a commercial development in a particular Neighbourhood, will have an impact on other businesses in the immediate vicinity and the greater City.

All Neighbourhood Plans in the City must address the seven goals of the Official Community Plan, and tailor applications of these goals in a manner that is acceptable to area residents.

Neighbourhood Planning Process

In 2008, Council adopted a new Official Community Plan for the City of Nanaimo. The Official Community Plan outlines how citizens would like to see their city develop over the next 25 years. The Official Community Plan is composed of seven basic principles or goals:

  1. Manage Urban Growth.
  2. Build a More Sustainable Community.
  3. Encourage Social Enrichment.
  4. Promote a Thriving Economy.
  5. Protect and Enhance Our Environment.
  6. Improve Mobility and Servicing.
  7. Work Towards a Sustainable Nanaimo. 

Neighbourhood planning is described under Goal 7: Work Towards a Sustainable Nanaimo.

As the new Official Community Plan was being developed a number of neighbourhood associations expressed the desire to have Neighbourhood Plans. These neighbourhoods are the Stewart Avenue Corridor area including the Newcastle and Brechin neighbourhoods, and the Southend and Nob Hill neighbourhoods immediately south of Downtown. Neighbourhood Plans for these two areas are to be completed over the next five years. Where the Official Community Plan is general in nature, Neighbourhood Plans were seen as a means to address issues unique to each Neighbourhood. To date four Neighbourhood Plans have been completed.

Completed Neighbourhood Plans to date


How does the Neighbourhood Planning process work?

In general, the process for developing a Neighbourhood Plan can be broken down into seven (7) basic steps:

  1. Identifying Neighbourhood issues and opinions.
  2. Developing options for addressing Neighbourhood issues.
  3. Choosing preferred options.
  4. Drafting the Plan.
  5. Checking back with the Neighbourhood about the contents of the Plan.
  6. Adoption of the Plan by Council.
  7. Plan Monitoring.

How long does the Neighbourhood Planning process take?

Neighbourhood Plans are generally completed within a one-to-two year time frame. Participants in the Neighbourhood Planning process should be willing to spend, on average, two to three evenings a month working on their plan.

What are the limitations and benefits of a Neighbourhood Plan?

Like any business or family, there is only so much money and time that can be allocated towards achieving goals. Obviously not all of a Neighbourhood's goals can be achieved through the development of a Plan. A Neighbourhood Plan will need to:

  • conform with the fundamental principles and policies of the Official Community Plan (Plan Nanaimo);
  • have the support of the Neighbourhood and Council;
  • be completed within a two-year time frame; and
  • work within the allocated budget.

A Neighbourhood Plan can:

  • help residents identify a common vision for their Neighbourhood;
  • help residents prioritize Neighbourhood goals;
  • help residents identify options for achieving Neighbourhood goals;
  • help residents convey clearly to developers what types of projects they will support; and
  • help Council know how residents want their Neighbourhood to grow.

For more information on neighbourhood planning, please contact:


Is there an active neighbourhood association in my area, and how can I contact this group?

The City maintains a contact list of active neighbourhood associations within its boundaries, as well as a map of the geographic area of interest for each group:

or click on the links below to visit a group's website:


Does the City have demographic information for each neighbourhood?

The City is currently divided into sixteen planning areas, based on the sixteen census tract areas for which Stats Canada collects information.  The City has created Census Profiles for each planning area that provides summary demographic information for the past three census periods – 1996, 2001, 2006.  This information is used to track trends throughout the City and as background information for neighbourhood plans.

Does the City have any incentive programs for neighbourhood groups?

The City currently offers Community Service Grants to local non-profit groups, including neighbourhood groups.  For more information on these grants please see the Grants Advisory Committee section of website.

Service Grants were recently approved (2008-Jun-09) for the following neighbourhood groups:

  • South End Community Association , $2,000 for initiatives to improve and strengthen their neighbourhood.
  • Brechin Hill Community Association, $1,000 for initiatives to improve and strengthen their neighbourhood.
  • Departure Bay Neighbourhood Association, $700 for annual History Night and Picnic events.
  • Newcastle Neighbourhood Association, $1,000 for Street Beautification and Block Party events.

What is the Nanaimo Neighbourhood Network?

The Nanaimo Neighbourhood Network is a voluntary association of neighbourhood groups which meets three times a year (October/February/June).

For more information about the Network please contact the Chair (Jim Goldsack) at 250-754-6389,, or the Vice-Chair (Warren Jacques) at

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