• Active Life: Programs Help Gardeners Get Growing

    by Ross Collicutt | Apr 14, 2015

    ACTIVE LIFE is a monthly series in thE&Nbsp;Nanaimo News Bulletin contributed by City of Nanaimo Staff.

    It seems like there is a lot more conversation lately around the topic of growing our own food. It makes a lot of sense to do so because growing our own food has so many advantages. The food tastes better, it saves us money, it is more environmentally responsible and the food produced is often healthier. 


    With that in mind, take a look at some of the programs being offered by the City of Nanaimo to help community members learn about backyard gardening: 

    Backyard fruit production – Learn how to grow luscious fruits and berries in your own yard. Held Saturday (April 18). 

    Plant propagation – You can save money by easily propagating plants without the use of fancy equipment. Held May 9. 

    Grow your own groceries – This hands-on workshop will teach about soil preparation, composting, starting and planting seeds, harvesting, cooking tips and more. Held on May 23. 

    Heavenly herbs – Taste, touch and smell a wonderful variety of delicious and beautiful culinary herbs that will add zest to your culinary creations. Everyone will go home with herbs to start in your garden. Held June 13. 

    Winter food gardening – Take advantage of our West Coast climate and learn how to grow your own food throughout the fall and winter seasons. Held July 11. 


    In addition to the various programs that are being offered this season, Parks, Recreation and Environment is partnering with Nanaimo Area Land Trust for the first ever Community Inter-Action on Food Security. 

    Held on April 26 at Bowen Park, this event features a meaningful discussion on exploring a food security strategy for the Nanaimo area with local resource people and includes a lunch featuring locally grown wild foods. 

    Leading up to that event, Nancy Turner, renowned ethnoecologist and ethnobiologist, will be at Bowen Park on April 21, 7 p.m., discussing her book, Earth’s Blanket – Traditional Teachings for Sustainable Living. 

    Finally, did you know that there are community gardens found in the city where you can rent plots or volunteer? This is a great way to have a garden and produce food even if you don’t have the traditional backyard. 

    For more information on our programs, special events or community gardens, please visit our website or call us at 250-756-5200.


  • Water Treatment Plant Photo Update - April 14, 2015

    by Ross Collicutt | Apr 14, 2015

    The latest photos from the Water Treatment Plant project






    See the project page for background documents on the Water Treatment Plant.

    Follow the project on the Facebook Photo Album.


  • Native Plant Salvage Program

    by Ross Collicutt | Apr 10, 2015

    We are fortunate to live in an area that is so rich with beautiful, natural surroundings. Conserving our natural environment is an important goal for the City. One way we are working to achieve this goal is through the Native Plant Salvage Program.


    Camas Lily by William & Wilma Follette @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS 

    The program consists of salvaging native plants that would otherwise be lost to development. The plants are then used in restoration projects that benefit the entire community. Landowners and developers participate by giving permission for volunteer program members to access their property before development begins.



  • Water Matters: The South Fork Dam

    by Ross Collicutt | Apr 07, 2015

    In the first post of this series we explored Jump Lake - the start of the journey for Nanaimo's water. In this segment, we move downstream with the water, as it is released from Jump Lake and flows to the South Fork Dam. This is where the water enters twin pipelines for its journey to the City.


    A wintery aerial view.


    The man-made waterfall upon its completion in 1931.


    The man-made waterfall now.

    Contracted to Jamieson Construction Co Ltd of Vancouver, the dam was built over 1930 and 1931. 


    Downstream face of arch during construction.

    Incredible foresight was used when planning and designing the dam as they built it at an elevation to allow water to flow to Nanaimo by gravity instead of using pumps (although there are a few areas in Nanaimo that require pumping due to their elevation). The dam is formed in an arch configuration and leans downstream 32 feet. The City has saved (and continues to save) hundreds of thousands of dollars in electricity costs from having the dam built this way. 


    Downstream face of completed arch.

    Completion of the dam was nearly a year behind schedule due to many setbacks such as the project being flooded out many times and a fire. The dam is 165 feet wide and 100 feet tall and is built of unreinforced concrete.


    Completed structure.

    During construction, concrete was poured 24 hours a day from August 13, 1931 through to October 12, 1931 - 18,447 bags of cement were used. 


    This plume of water is the low level outlet, which ensures sufficient water flow for cutthroat trout in the river.

    The dam holds 2 million cubic metres of water and the reservoir is kept full. This creates the hydraulic grade line that allows Nanaimo's water system to be fed by gravity. For the past 15 years or so, power has been generated at the dam for local needs.


    South Forks reservoir.

    Once water leaves the dam it travels through two pipelines to the City; one 30 inches (750 mm) in diameter and the other 48 inches (1200 mm) in diameter. 


    A look downstream.

  • Search Nanaimo's Parks

    by Ross Collicutt | Apr 01, 2015

    Nanaimo has many parks and trails to enjoy. And knowing what amenities and activities are available in each park can be overwhelming.


    If you find yourself wanting to know where you can play tennis, bird watch, walk your dog off-leash or another activity you can do in one of Nanaimo's parks, there is help! Try out the Nanaimo Parks Search tool on the City of Nanaimo website


    You can search Nanaimo's parks based on park name, activity or by map. The Nanaimo Park Search tool can be found here. Start exploring Nanaimo's parks today!



  • Community Spirit at Work in Our Parks

    by Ross Collicutt | Mar 31, 2015

    It's awesome when people get together to do good things for their community and last week was a great example of that. City staff and students from Dover Bay Secondary School's Eco Club came together to plant native species at one of Nanaimo's newest parks, Camas Park.


    On March 23 and March 27, the crew planted a mixture of 100 Garry Oak trees, 16 Douglas-fir trees and 200 Camas bulbs to enhance the park's natural setting. WPC Building Services donated 60 of the Garry Oaks that were planted.


    Garry Oak ecosystems, once prevalent on Vancouver Island, are among the most endangered in Canada. The City is working to enhance and re-establish Garry Oak ecosystems. 

    The City recently opened Camas Park located on Westwood Road near the Parkway Trail. This small neighbourhood park features a Garry Oak ecosystem with a trail winding through it.

    Are you interested in volunteering in Nanaimo's parks? Check out the VIP program for more info.


  • More Signs of Spring in Nanaimo

    by Ross Collicutt | Mar 26, 2015

    It is officially Spring and along with migrating birds and wetlands waking up in the area, is it also breeding season for many amphibian species including Western Toads.


    Check out this cute little guy.

    Wetland and lake habitat suitable for breeding Western Toads exists in and around the City of Nanaimo. Western Toads tend to migrate to communal breeding grounds in the spring. They prefer shallow bodies of water with sandy bottoms. Eggs are laid near vegetation to anchor the egg masses of up to 16,500 eggs! About 1% of the eggs survive.

    Each day during breeding season (usually around midday when the day starts warming up) toads travel from the forest to their breeding grounds. You can watch as they swim toward their breeding site en masse. 


    Above: A captured breeding pair.

    In British Columbia, Western Toads are a species of conservation concern due to habitat loss from development, competition from introduced species like the bullfrog, and migrating toads can be killed by traffic on roads. 

    Researchers from Vancouver Island University, along with Environment Canada and Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations are conducting surveys on these little guys. They are trying to determine the population viability of Western Toads in this area by counting and tagging them at their breeding grounds. In the fifth year of the survey, they capture toads, check to see if they have been tagged and tag ones who have not yet been tagged. They count the number of toads and categorize them into ones who are returning from previous years (already tagged) and new arrivals (not tagged). The toads are then released to go about their business.


    Here's a nature "Where's Waldo?" Can you spot the Western Toad in this picture? It's near the centre of the picture looking up at the camera. 

  • Picture a Park: Chase River Estuary Park

    by Ross Collicutt | Mar 24, 2015

    At the south end of Haliburton Street you will find Chase River Estuary Park. This is an ideal spot for bird and wildlife watching as estuaries are teeming with life.

    Estuaries are the transitional zone where the river meets the sea. They are amongst the most productive habitats in the world due to the high level of nutrients found in them. This is a result of both seawater and freshwater flowing into the same place and the occurrence of both marine (tides, waves) and riverine (flows of freshwater and sediment) effects. 



    The park features 1.3 kms of trails with boardwalks over wetlands and tall grasses, viewing areas, stairs and gravel trails.


    The Estuary Trail takes you to the viewing platform with interpretive signage, seating areas and excellent bird watching views.

    boardwalk (4)

    The Ridge Trail takes you on a short loop along the other side of the river and near the train tracks where you can even spot the Nanaimo River estuary through the trees.

    trail (4)

    Looking to explore Nanaimo's parks and trails? Check out the Nanaimo Parks Search tool.

  • Water Matters: The Start of a Journey

    by Ross Collicutt | Mar 19, 2015

    Water is essential to all life forms. It sustains life, nourishes growth and provides energy. In 1993, the United Nations declared March 22 as World Water Day - a day to celebrate this invaluable resource. The theme this year is "Water and Sustainable Development." It is about how water connects everything in the world and how to manage it for future generations.

    When pouring yourself a glass of water, taking a shower or watering your plants, do you find yourself wondering about the journey that water had to take? In honour of World Water Day, this is the first in a series on Nanaimo's water and how it gets to your tap.


    Nanaimo is fortunate to have a very high quality water source from which to draw our potable water from. Our drinking water comes from the South Fork of the Nanaimo River. The South Nanaimo River Watershed consists of a large area (220 square kilometres) that is two and a half times the size of Nanaimo.

    Before the water comes out of your tap it starts its journey at the Jump Lake reservoir, 22 kilometres southwest of Nanaimo. The dam that stores the water in Jump Lake was built in 1974 and the reservoir can hold up to 16.6 billion litres of water at its full storage level - that's enough to supply every household in the City of Nanaimo with water for one year. However, not all the water is used for drinking.  More than half this water is released to the Nanaimo River to augment low summer flows to preserve fisheries and recreation. City staff visit Jump Lake on a daily basis to test and check water levels and maintain infrastructure to ensure quality and supply.


    The picture above shows a beautiful, calm day at Jump Lake where the water looks like glass. This isn't always the case.  The upper watershed receives 3-4 times the precipitation that we see on the coast, and can get quite stormy.   


    For more information on your drinking water check out the City website.


  • Be Green Today

    by Ross Collicutt | Mar 17, 2015

    It's St. Patrick's Day and that means just about everything green is worn, eaten and drank today. Today don't just wear green, be green by making some simple lifestyle changes. 

    Here are some examples of little changes you can make:

    • Reuse - do you have decorations or green clothing/accessories from last year? Why not use them again this year? 
    • Choose alternative forms of transportation - even just one day a week walk, bike or take the bus to work, shopping, running your errands, etc.
    • Recycle - you can divert a large percentage of your household waste from the landfill. Check out this video on some tips.
    • Reduce - reducing consumption reduces the amount you have to throw out and saves you money. 
    • Upcycle - a big trend right now is to upcycle your tired-looking furniture by sprucing it up to make it look new or repurpose it for a different use.
    • Be water smart - water is essential to all forms of life. Conserve this precious resource.


  • ACTIVE LIFE: Take a moment for activities

    by Ross Collicutt | Mar 16, 2015

    ACTIVE LIFE is a monthly series in thE&Nbsp;Nanaimo News Bulletin contributed by City of Nanaimo Staff.

    My mom has told me throughout my life that the older you get, the faster time goes by. I am discovering as I get older that she was right. 

    How is it that it’s already the month of March? 

    With the release of the new Spring and Summer Activity Guide, however, the City of Nanaimo is encouraging you to take our new theme ‘Take a Moment’ to heart by taking the time to discover some of the many new programs available to you and your family. 


    Here are a few to consider as you take a moment. 

    Frozen for fun (ages 3-5) – I don’t know many toddlers who aren’t obsessed with Ana or Olaf. In this fun morning, participants will enjoy stories, songs and crafts with their favourite Frozen characters wearing their preferred winter-themed costume. 

    Jazz for beginners (ages 6-12) – Dancing is one of the best exercises for both the body and the mind and jazz dancing is so much fun. 

    Family bicycle workshop – Cycling is a great way for families to stay active together. Learn cycling etiquette, safety and polish up on your riding skills. 

    Be a street style star (ages 13-15) – If you’re into fashion and style, this is for you. Whether you’re male or female, learn how to adapt your inner street style for any occasion – hanging out with friends, school or even that job interview. 

    Shiv’s kitchen – Who can resist the smell and intense flavours of Indian cuisine? In this course, Shiv will teach partici- pants how to make some very tasty vegetarian dishes that are easy to make. 

    Lawn alternative workshop – Learn how to have your yard look vibrant without chemicals or excess water by adopting edible and native plants into your landscaping. 

    Cardio sculpt – Check out this new fitness program at Oliver Woods that incorporates low weight, high repetition resistance exercises to tone and sculpt your muscles. 

    Sunset paddleboarding – Enjoy the views of the coastline as you get out and try this sport that is increasing in popularity. This is a great core and balance workout. 

    For more information on these course or other program ideas, please pick up the new City of Nanaimo Spring and Summer Activity Guide or view it on our website.


  • Flights of Spring in Nanaimo

    by Ross Collicutt | Mar 09, 2015

    This time of year is busy for the birds, particularly migrating and nesting ones. Nanaimo is part of the Pacific Flyway so we get a lot of activity with birds coming for the summer, birds leaving after overwintering here or birds just stopping by on the way to their nesting grounds elsewhere.

    Just a sample of the birds you can spot around Nanaimo that are here to nest for the summer are Turkey Vultures, Rufous Hummingbirds, Orange-crowned Warblers and Tree Swallows. 

    TurkeyVultures Rufoushummingbird

    OrangecrownedWarbler TreeSwallow

    Left to Right from top row: Turkey vultures, female Rufous hummingbird, Orange-crowned warbler, Tree swallow

    Like some retirees from the prairies, many birds choose our mild climate to overwinter here such as Trumpeter Swans and some ducks like the Bufflehead. 

    TrumpeterSwan   BuffleheadPair

    Left to Right: Trumpeter swan, Bufflehead duck

    A bird that is just stopping by on the way to its nesting grounds in the Arctic is the Pacific Black Brant goose. This amazing little goose makes the long journey from Mexico to the Arctic and only stops in a few places to rest and feed. Their main diet when on the shores of Eastern Vancouver Island is eel grass and herring row. When they arrive in this area, they are exhausted and starving. 


    Pictured above: Pacific Black Brant goose

    If conditions are right, you may see some of the birds listed above in your own backyard or you can visit the great birding hotspots around Nanaimo.

    Some great birding spots in Nanaimo are Linley Valley Cottle Lake Park, Pipers Lagoon Park, Buttertubs Marsh Park, Richards Marsh Park, Diver Lake Park, Chase River Estuary Park and Jack Point and Biggs Park.

    It’s important to use care around wetlands and along the shoreline especially between March and May. Walk your furry friends away from the beach during this time; perhaps try one of Nanaimo's many dog parks. Whether nesting or stopping here on their long journey, birds need space to rest and feed as they are an important indicator of and contributor to the health of our local ecosystem.

    Photo Credits: Female Rufous Hummingbird By Brendan Lally from Delta, Canada, Orange-crowned Warbler By Dominic Sherony, Trumpeter Swan By Alan D. Wilson, www.naturespicsonline.com, Bufflehead duck By Canonshot1012 and Brant goosE&Nbsp;By USFWS - Pacific Region.

  • Water Treatment Plant Photo Update - February 25, 2015

    by Ross Collicutt | Mar 03, 2015

    The latest photos from the Water Treatment Plant project
















    See the project page for background documents on the Water Treatment Plant.

    Follow the project on the Facebook Photo Album.


  • Picture a Park: Jack Point and Biggs Park

    by Ross Collicutt | Feb 23, 2015

    On the way to Duke Point Ferry Terminal, you will find Jack Point and Biggs Park


    This 13 hectare (32 acre) park located on the mouth of the Nanaimo river estuary is a great spot for wildlife viewing. In addition to other species, bald eagles, sea lions, seals and even harbour porpoises have been spotted. 


    The 2.5 km loop trail leads from Biggs Park to Jack Point includes some stairs and boardwalks.




     It also boasts excellent views of downtown, Protection Island and Gabriola Island.




    Jack Point is named after Jack Doholt (1819-1905) who resided on the point for 40 years supplying Nanaimo with milk and hay. It used to be an island at high tide, but is now connected with Duke Point and Biggs Park. 


    Looking for a park in Nanaimo to explore? Try the Nanaimo Parks Search tool!

  • Get Ready for the Spring and Summer Activity Guide

    by Ross Collicutt | Feb 20, 2015

    "Take a Moment" to start planning your activities for spring and summer! The 2015 Spring and Summer Activity Guide will be ready for pick up starting February 28. The Guide can be picked up at all City of Nanaimo recreation facilities, local grocery stores, malls and libraries.


    The guide features a variety of programs and events for all ages as well as information on other community programs. Starting Wednesday, March 4, you can register for programs such as Nature Tykes, Jazz Dance for Beginners, Private Piano Lessons, Watercolour Painting, Aerobic Kickboxing, Heritage Bike Ride, Sunset Paddleboarding and many more.

    If you haven't already, setting yourself up for online registration in advance makes it easier for you to register for programs online first thing on March 4. To get your own account for our online registration call 250-756-5200.

    In addition to a print copy, the Activity Guide will be available to view online Wednesday, February 25.

    For more information on programming and registration please call 250-756-5200.

  • ACTIVE LIFE Families Make Time for Play

    by Ross Collicutt | Feb 16, 2015

    ACTIVE LIFE is a monthly series in the Nanaimo News Bulletin contributed by City of Nanaimo Staff.

    Have you ever heard the phrase, “Families that play together, stay together?” It’s a good reminder, with parents facing challenging and stressful careers and kids involved in a wide variety of extracurricular activities, of how important it is to set aside time to be together, enjoy each other’s company and to just play. No matter what your family dynamic or make-up, here are a few things that may help us all in our endeavour to strengthen our family bonds – especially in light of our Family Day celebrations held across the province this past weekend.

    Schedule the time – I know many families who set aside a specific time each week for family activities. This means no meetings, no outside activities and, in many cases, no technology – unless you are having family movie night, of course. Each family member knows to keep that time free and the emphasis for that time is dedicated to doing an activity together. Any time works as long as each family member makes it a priority.


    Plan the experience – It doesn’t take much time or even any money to create those memorable family experiences. Our family nights include going for walks, watching movies, visiting parks, playing a board game, doing a service project for a neighbour or just having a dance party in the living room. As the kids get older, they can take turns organizing an activity where the whole family participates. That way each person gets to share his or her interests with the entire family.


    Be present – Try to set time aside to put away the tablets, turn off the TV and get rid of as many distractions as possible so that you can really be in the moment with your family. Do you sit together at meals? Do you share the day’s occurrences?


    Our Parks, Recreation and Environment department’s tagline is “Take a Moment.” We hope it will inspire you to create those experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.

    For ideas on family activities, please visit www.nanaimo.ca or call 250-756-5200.

  • Romantic Walks in Nanaimo Parks and Trails

    by Ross Collicutt | Feb 12, 2015

    This time of year brings thoughts of romance to the top of mind. With the breathtaking beauty that surrounds us, it’s no wonder Nanaimo has been deemed a top romantic place. Our many parks and trails provide that perfect backdrop for a romantic stroll, hike or picnic. 

    Here are some romantic spots to explore with your loved one:

    Jack Point and Biggs Park

    jackpoint (2)

    The trail in Jack Point and Biggs Park boasts amazing views, a perfect spot to watch the sunset and excellent wildlife watching conditions.

    Maffeo Sutton Park


    Take a stroll along the waterfront with your sweetie, enjoy the gentle roll of the tides and take in a picnic for two.

    Pipers Lagoon Park


    Breathtaking vistas and wildlife watching make this a serene place to visit. Find a treasure for your sweetheart while beachcombing.

    Neck Point Park


    Just sit on a bench facing the water and enjoy the calm that only nature can provide. The headland area in the north section of the park is ideal for watching Orca, sea lions and otters. Neck Point Park is also a popular spot for weddings.

    Find the park for you by using the Nanaimo Parks Search tool on the City website.

  • Trail Etiquette

    by Ross Collicutt | Feb 05, 2015

    Nanaimo has a great number of trails to enjoy from the Cable Bay Trail in the South to the trails in Linley Valley Park in the North to the Parkway Trail that connects the North and South. When venturing out on one of the many trails in Nanaimo, there are a few things to remember.   


    No Smoking: Nanaimo’s public spaces - including City-owned trails and parks – are smoke free.

    Keep Right: Just like driving, pass on the left. Make someone’s day by saying "Hello" when passing them.

    Clean Up After Rover: Bring a doggie bag, clean up after your pooch and put used doggie bags in the garbage cans provided.

    Leashes Rule: Please keep your dog on a short leash when passing other trail users.


    Headphones: You may be feeling “more connected than unlimited wifi” when you’ve got your headphones on but be aware of your surroundings especially when on multi-use trails.

    Be Aware: Be aware of your surroundings, especially on multi-use trails, and take care to be respectful of others around you.

    ParkwayTrail (2)

    Pack it Out: Help us keep trails and parks beautiful by packing out your trash.

    Feeding is Foul: Please do not feed wildlife. They are able to survive on their own and feeding wildlife can actually encourage overcrowding and disease.

    Alcohol: Keep the booze at home, the consumption of alcohol is prohibited in public-owned spaces.

    Always remember, Take only pictures and leave only footprints.

    For more information on Nanaimo's Parks and Trails, check out the Nanaimo Parks Search tool on the City website.

    LinleyValley (2)

  • Wetlands in Nanaimo

    by Ross Collicutt | Feb 02, 2015

    Happy World Wetlands Day! 

    Every February 2 marks the day of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in the City of Ramsar in Iran. The Ramsar Convention’s mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”.

    Among the world’s most productive environments, wetlands are known as Mother Nature’s water filtration system. Our fresh water supply comes from wetlands and they provide food and habitat for a diverse collection of species. 


    Nanaimo is home to many wetlands including:

    Buttertubs Marsh Park

    Buttertubs Marsh Park, located off Jingle Pot Road, consists of over 23 hectares (56 acres) of reclaimed wetlands, a shrub-mixed forest, a 2 km loop trail and viewpoints for wildlife and bird watching. 


    When strolling around the marsh, keep an eye out for the Painted Turtles, an endangered species. Painted turtles are the only native freshwater turtle in BC.


    Jingle Pot Marsh (Third Street Park) 

    Third Street Park is located near the Bird Sanctuary and Hawthorne neighbourhoods and contains Jingle Pot Marsh, a shrub-mixed forest and a trail network including a segment of the Trans-Canada Trail.


    If you’re walking in Third Street Park listen for Virginia Rails. This rarely seen, secretive bird, typically lives within dense vegetation (mostly in cattails, reeds, and deep grasses) feeding on insects, frogs, and occasionally small fish. 


  • 2015 Family Play Day

    by Ross Collicutt | Jan 30, 2015

    The Family Day long weekend is fast approaching. Parks, Recreation and Environment has put together fun, family friendly activities in celebration of this family oriented holiday.

    On Sunday, February 8, come down to Oliver Woods from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm for Family Play Day. Activities include fort building, puppet making, gym games, a scavenger hunt and more. Tickets to Family Play Day are $12 per family of 5 or $3 each (children 2 years and younger are free) and can be purchased at Beban Park, Bowen Park and Oliver Woods Community Centre.


    On Monday, February 9, Nanaimo Ice Centre (NIC) and Nanaimo Aquatic Centre (NAC) will feature skating and swimming activities for the family to take part in. At NIC, enjoy two offerings of Everyone Welcome Skates (12:00 pm to 1:30 pm and 1:45 pm to 3:15 pm) and Stick N' Puck 12:15 pm to 1:15 pm and 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm). Head over to NAC from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm for an Everyone Welcome Swim or work out in the weight room.

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