Complete Streets Guidelines

Complete Streets move people, not just cars. They are designed and operated to enable safe and comfortable use for all, regardless of age or ability. They recognize that streets have different roles, functions, and characteristics depending on their context.

Complete Streets - ISL From the planning stages, to engagement, design, construction, and rehabilitation, we will aim to create livable neighbourhoods that build a better and safer Nanaimo for pedestrians, cyclists, transit users, & motorists.

Through attractive design, enhanced safety, and multi-modal infrastructure, the road can be transformed into a space that:

  • Increases safety
  • Promotes a more active lifestyle
  • Decreases carbon dioxide emissions
  • Encourages a sense of community
  • Supports local businesses

The scope of the work is to review the current street classification system to reflect the livability and functionality of the street. Complete Streets Guidelines will be created to aid developers and city staff to design and construct livable and accessible streets.

Public Consultation

Understanding that not all streets can accommodate all modes in the same way, a survey was created to gather public feedback by evaluating trade-offs and preferences. This survey has since closed; however, please email if you would like to provide additional comments and feedback.  

Interested in learning more and wanting to chat in person? Everyone is busy and finding time is not always possible. So, we want to come to you! The City will be setting up a number of informal opportunities at community events, parks and rec facilities, transit exchanges, and malls with the intent of reaching a variety of Nanaimo residents. Check the website often for updates on times and exact table locations or bump into us spontaneously and let us know what you think.

Upcoming Locations Dates & Times
Sustainability Fair, VIU Campus

September 27, 2018


Woodgrove Centre

March 23, 2019


Nanaimo Earth Day - John Barsby School

April 27, 2019


Active for Life Expo - Maffeo Sutton Park

May 25, 2019



If you have any comments or questions on the proposed guidelines or public consultation, please contact us at 250-754-4251 or email

  • Progress


    Approximate Date

    Project Kick-Off January 2019
    Public Engagement Spring 2019
    Finalize Guidelines August 2019
    Standards & Specifications Update November 2019

  • Documents

    Council, staff, and residents have supported complete streets principles dating back to 2002. Over 17 documents and plans have been created over the past 16 years, referencing complete streets or speaking to the principles of creating a greener, sustainable, and multi-model network that accommodates and moves people - not only motorists.

    Nanaimo Transportation Master Plan

  • Details

    Complete Streets are an approach to street design that strives to accommodate all transportation modes including walking, cycling, transit and driving. They help create more livable neighbourhoods that encourage people to travel by foot, bicycle and transit by:

    • Improving safety and accessibility for all road users.
    • Providing infrastructure for a range of transportation options.
    • Providing attractive streetscapes and public spaces.
    • Promoting economic well-being of both businesses and residents.

    Complete streets can take on many different forms. The essential components are the ability for everybody to navigate the street safely. For pedestrians and cyclists, that means increasingly having their own separate space, protected from motor vehicles where speed is higher. For transit passengers, it means good access to well-placed transit stops with comfortable waiting areas including weather protection. For motor vehicles, the frequency and severity of collisions can be reduced through improved street design.
    A complete street can take many different forms as shown below. The primary newcomer to the streetscape is the dedicated protected space for cycling. This is a critical requirement and has proven time and again it is necessary to make it safe enough to encourage and enable cycling for all ages and abilities. Pedestrians were often relegated to a minimum width sidewalk which was insufficient for people to pass, particularly if using mobility aids, so typically wider sidewalks are preferred. Conversely, lanes for motor vehicles were often unnecessarily wide, making it easier to drive faster, reducing driver perception of their sunrroundings, and increasing the likelihood and severity of collisions.
    The best option for each street will vary. Options include reducing vehicle lane widths, or even removing lanes that are under-utilized and repurposing this space for other uses. Another is acquiring additional right-of-way from adjacent properties.

    Some Canadian examples of what a complete street might look like are provided below. Canadian Cities

    Some examples of complete streets from around the world are also provided below.

    International Cities - Complete Streets

    Photo and wording contributions by ISL. 
  • Background

    The streets within the City of Nanaimo have not changed significantly in previous decades. Getting around by automobile is relatively easy, while travelling on foot, by bicycle, or by transit has not been as safe, comfortable and convenient. While that was not an issue previously, a growing number of people’s transportation preferences are changing, whether by choice or necessity.
    Where traditionally, younger generation may have left cities such as Nanaimo for larger urban centers, today, younger generations are seeking locations with more affordable housing, that still provide the amenities they are familiar with in larger cities. Complete streets are just one part of the equation to enhancing the livability of the City. The intent is to provide safe accessible transportation choices for everybody in the community, no matter their choice of mode.
    If Nanaimo can better compete with other cities, it can attract a population that will help it thrive in the future

    In 2014, Nanaimo’s City Council approved the Nanaimo Transportation Master Plan (NTMP), which included a recommendation to revise the Manual of Engineering Standards and Specification and the Bicycle Design Guidelines. Within this NTMP document, “Complete Streets” was referenced over 30 times, and Nanaimo was listed as one of the earlier adopters on the Complete Streets Canada website.

    The NTMP vision states:
    "Nanaimo’s multi-modal transportation system will connect the City’s residents and businesses to each other, the rest of Vancouver Island and beyond. It will provide inclusive transportation choices that are safe, comfortable, and accessible for people of all ages and abilities. A system of interconnected facilities and services will provide affordable mobility while supporting a shift towards a more sustainable mix of transportation alternatives. The transportation network will seek to create and support a vibrant, livable, healthy and sustainable community for residents, businesses and visitors alike."
    The Complete Streets Design Guideline will be one part of the solution to achieve the above vision.

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