Complete Streets: Updated Engineering Standards & 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.

Mobility Local

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 was to review the current street classification system to reflect the livability and functionality of the street. Complete Streets Guidelines were created to aid developers and city staff to design and construct livable and accessible streets. The adoption of the Complete Street Cross-Sections in 2020, including the raised local intersection details into the City's Engineering Standards was the most notable achievement. 

Mobility Collector

Public Consultation

Everyone is busy and finding time is not always possible, so we actively attended public events on evenings and weekends to connect with as many residents as we could. Thank you to everyone that came out, provided input and completed the online survey that aimed to gather public feedback on trade-offs and preferences.

If you missed these events or would like to provide additional comments and feedback, please email


Complete Streets Timeline Updated


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

  • Progress

    If you are interested in seeing the Complete Streets Cross-Sections adopted into the City's Manual of Engineering Standards and Specifications (MOESS), check them out here:

    If you are interested in seeing the City's new road classification map, check it out here:

    Mobility Local Plan

  • 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 and the City's updated Engineering Standards will be one part of the solution to achieve the above vision.


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