2020 was so unusual that it’s hard to look back and see it as a glass half-full kind of year. From the toilet paper crisis in the spring to the newly normal shopping patterns we now follow, it’s been an emotional journey, full of frustration and patience-testing adjustment.
2020 put a hold on the handshake and the fist bump. While we wait patiently for a revival of these things that physically connect us, we move forward with as much resilience as we can, as if to say “Look 2020, you knocked us around but we’re still in the game.”
In fact, we’re so “in the game,” that maybe – just maybe – that glass really is half full. On the surface, 2020 was a doom and gloom year like no other, but for those of us who have so far dodged the virus... it’s made us stronger.
Before you roll your eyes, scoff, or yell out “good grief, Charlie Brown!” consider this: 2020 forced us all to adapt to an emergency situation, and we met the challenge. It pushed us to step back and consider our personal impact on others, and we did. It taught us to stay home if we are even a little sick and contagious, and we do.
As we navigated through these changes, it certainly wasn’t business as usual at the City, though we did continue forward with the usual business. We adapted our workflows, offices, public spaces and more to allow for new safety protocols to keep both staff and the public safe, and we’ve followed the Province’s health guidelines every step of the way.
By doing that, we saw some significant strides forward in 2020.
More people than ever before are doing business with the City online. From registering for recreation programs and even drop-in sessions, to applying for dog licenses and paying property taxes, online options are a more proven choice now.
In February, a step forward in reconciliation was made when the Snuneymuxw First Nation’s flag was raised once again at City Hall.
The City made various park improvements, including a new destination playground at Maffeo-Sutton Park, a new skatepark at Harewood Centennial Park and a new mountain bike skills course at Beban Park.
The City has moved forward with active transportation improvements, including the Metral Drive Complete Streets upgrade and a major Complete Streets upgrade to the section of Bowen Road between Highway 19A and Labieux Road.
And finally, after years of waiting, construction began and continues on a new hotel downtown at 100 Gordon Street next to the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.
We had great progress with our various task forces. Despite the challenge of COVID restrictions, the Economic Development Task Force, the Health and Housing Task Force, the Mayor’s Task Force on Recovery and Resilience and the Environment Committee all continued to meet, to provide insights and to develop various strategies.
In July, the City of Nanaimo reached a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with BC Housing, which will see the development of 3 affordable rental buildings with about 125 homes for families and individuals. The MOU also includes the development of four purpose-built permanent supportive housing buildings with space for about 190 people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Council also began a journey into the future with the REIMAGINE NANAIMO public engagement campaign, and Phase 1 is now complete. Input and feedback from this process will help to guide new strategies that take the City ten years into the future and beyond. This is the first time that the City has largely used an online engagement platform to gather input. To take a closer look, visit www.getinvolvednanaimo.ca
As we build on these successes and continue to adapt to our new normal, 2021 looks to be a promising year. Hold strong Nanaimo and stay awesome out there. And with your half-full glass, a toast! To a happy and brilliant 2021, where we come out of this pandemic stronger and more resilient than ever.