Initiated in the fall of 2019, the focus of the REIMAGINE NANAIMO 2020 (Coordinated Strategic Policy Review) is to complete a comprehensive update of a number of key strategic planning policy documents in 2020-2021. Central to this undertaking is an update of Nanaimo's 2008 Official Community Plan, the 2005 Parks, Recreation and Cultural Plan and creation of an Active and Sustainable Transportation Plan.

Planning and engagement of these plans will be done as part of a broader process that involves coordinating engagement to inform the review and development of other strategic plans including the City's Economic Development Strategy, Water Supply Strategic Plan Update, and Climate Action Plan. To participate in the engagement process, please click on the following link to go to the Get Involved Nanaimo - REIMAGINE NANAIMO web page.

Coordinating community engagement on these interrelated policy documents is intended to maximize community participation, ensure consistency between the plans, ensure efficient resource use, and avoid public confusion and potential engagement fatigue from multiple overlapping planning processes.

For more information on two major ongoing OCP amendment applications, please see the following pages for Sandstone and Green Thumb. Please note these applications were initiated prior to REIMAGINE NANAIMO and will be running concurrently with this process.

The goals of this project are to:

  • Design and implement a coordinated planning and engagement process that informs the review and development of the Official Community Plan; Parks, Recreation and Cultural Plan; Active Sustainable Transportation Plan; Economic Development Strategy; Water Supply Strategic Plan, and Climate Action Plan.
  • Develop an updated Official Community Plan, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Plan, and Active Sustainable Transportation Plan for Council consideration by Fall 2021.

Purpose and objectives of this project are to:

  • Update the Official Community Plan to include the significant policy documents created since 2008 (e.g. Transportation Master Plan and Affordable Housing Strategy);
  • Identify future Parks, Recreation and Culture service delivery and development priorities for the next 10 years, including directives for facility development, service delivery, and parks and open space management;
  • Fill information gaps with data generated through updated population models, land capacity analysis, and needs assessments;
  • Evaluate existing policies and practices (e.g. land use designations for nodes, corridors, and neighbourhoods, steep slope development permit area guidelines, park acquisition framework, park classification system);
  • Consider combining several plans into one comprehensive document;
  • Include new priorities into the City's strategic policy fabric (e.g. Council's 2019-2022 Strategic Plan, Truth and Reconciliation, diversity and inclusion, climate change, and asset management); and,
  • Develop an implementation and measurement framework towards the new and updated policy objectives.

Guiding Principles:

The project will be guided by the following principles endorsed by Council for the strategic policy review process:

  • Build on successful policies in existing documents;
  • Incorporate Council's strategic themes identified in the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan: Environmental Responsibility, Governance Excellence, Livability, and Economic Health;
  • Acknowledge and address the priorities of climate change, Truth and Reconciliation, and sustainable service delivery;
  • Include robust community engagement in the creation of the plans and strategies;
  • Incorporate a monitoring process to measure and track progress; and,
  • Provide a clear and coordinated vision to guide community building for the next 25 years.
  • Progress

    The following is a working timeline to complete the various components of the plan process. It is anticipated that the process will take approximately 18 months to complete, and the project is currently in Phase 1 - Gathering Ideas (Issues and Opportunities).





    Starting (Plan Initiation)

    • Background research completed or underway (current and projected demographic data, land inventory, market analysis, historical information etc.)
    • Issue Request for Statement of Qualifications for consulting services (engagement and coordination of strategic plans review); negotiation underway with prospective consultants
    • Internal working group formed and meeting schedule established
    • Approval of Terms of Reference by Council
    • Branding of the coordinated strategic plan review process

    October 2019 – April 2020


    Gathering Ideas (Issues and Opportunities)

    • Finalize coordinated engagement plan with consultants
    • Public engagement campaign launched
    • Administer statistically valid needs assessment survey
    • Update to Council summarizing ‘What We’ve Learned’

    May 2020 - November 2020


    Exploring Options (Options and Strategic Directions)

    • Preparation of plan options (including land use scenarios for Council and community consideration)
    • Public engagement (online and live events) about potential concepts for goals and actions within the plans
    • Update to Council on plans progress and options

    Spring / Summer 2021


    Developing Plans (Initial Plans and Strategies)

    • Online engagement to discuss proposed policy changes and new directions
    • Update to Council requesting endorsement of draft documents

    Winter 2021/22


    Reviewing (Final Plans and Strategies)

    • Completion of revised draft plans and final draft plans submitted to Council for adoption

    Spring 2022

  • Documents

    REIMAGINE Backgrounders:



  • Details
  • Background

    The City of Nanaimo has a range of long-term policy documents that guide the future development of the city, including the effective management of assets to maintain efficient service provision. These strategic documents collectively act as a framework to plan for and respond to the dynamic pressures of changing population and related economic, social, and environmental conditions.

    In the past 20 years, the City has seen considerable population growth, which has driven the need for expanded municipal services and public amenities, resulting in changing patterns of land use. Evolving external factors, such as climate change, have a significant impact on the future operations of the City, as do changing social issues associated with homelessness and the need for affordable housing. At the same time, relationships with other levels of government, including Snuneymuxw First Nation and School District #68, continue to be strengthened, providing new opportunities for partnerships that shape community growth.

    There are several key policy documents that merit an immediate review. This includes the Official Community Plan (OCP) that sets the overall framework for the City's approach to land use and community development, and influences the direction of multiple other policy documents. There is also a need to ensure that the work of more recently completed planning processes (including Council's 2020 Strategic Plan) are incorporated into existing documents. Subsequently, Staff have identified an opportunity to develop a coordinated approach to synchronize these strategic policy documents by initially focusing on three key strategic documents scheduled to be reviewed during 2020/2021:

    • The Official Community Plan
    • Parks, Recreation and Culture Plan; and,
    • Active and Sustainable Transportation Plan

    Additionally, the Economic Development Strategy, Water Supply Strategic Plan and Climate Action Plan are also scheduled to be reviewed in 2020. The review and development of each document will be included in the strategic policy review process to ensure coordination and coherence with the Council's Strategic Plan, the OCP, and the other updated policy documents.

    Each strategic policy document is discussed below:

    Official Community Plan

    The City of Nanaimo adopted the current Official Community Plan (OCP), planNanaimo, in 2008. planNanaimo is built on the policies developed in previous community planning processes to promote the following city-wide goals:

    • Manage Urban Growth
    • Build a More Sustainable Community
    • Encourage Social Enrichment
    • Promote a Thriving Economy
    • Protect and Enhance the Environment
    • Improve Mobility and Servicing
    • Work Towards a Sustainable Nanaimo

    The OCP lists sustainability as the community's guiding principle, which is reflected in the implementation strategy included in the document. The City has completed many of the actions listed in the implementation strategy, and in keeping with best practices, there is a need to review the OCP. This would involve evaluating how effective the current policies have been and determine if policy changes are needed to reflect changing conditions and priorities.

    Staff propose the 2020/2021 OCP update would continue to build on the policies of planNanaimo, and focus on the following:

    • Update the OCP to include the significant policy documents created since 2008 (e.g. Transportation Master Plan and Affordable Housing Strategy).
    • Fill information gaps with data generated through updated population models, land capacity analysis, and needs assessments.
    • Evaluate existing policies and practices (e.g. land use designations for nodes, corridors, and neighbourhoods, steep slope development permit area guidelines).
    • Include new priorities into the City's strategic policy fabric (e.g. Council's 2020 Strategic Plan, Truth and Reconciliation, climate change, and asset management).
    • Implement and monitor progress towards the new and updated policy objectives.

    Parks, Recreation, and Culture Plan

    The existing Parks, Recreation and Culture Plan was developed in 2005. The existing plan includes directives related to recreation and culture facility development, service delivery methods and parks and open space management, including recommendations for sub plans to be developed in support of the master plan. Over the past 14 years, the majority of the plan directives have been addressed.

    Additionally, the City adopted the Cultural Plan for a Creative Nanaimo in 2014. The goals of the Cultural Plan include: strengthening the creative sector and the creative economy; connecting people, communities, and ideas, and focusing on our cultural spaces and places. Elements of the Cultural Plan will be updated through the Parks, Recreation and Culture Plan.

    There are opportunities to modernize the Parks, Recreation and Culture Plan by developing renewed plan directives to guide departmental initiatives over the next ten years. Since 2005, community needs have shifted, urban development patterns have changed, over 400 ha of new parkland has been acquired, new trends in recreation management have arisen, and initiatives to support climate change adaptation and environmental conservation have progressed. Undertaking a Parks, Recreation and Culture Plan review at this time will clarify priorities going forward and ensure alignment with other strategic planning documents slated for review.

    Active and Sustainable Transportation Plan

    The City prepared the Nanaimo Transportation Master Plan in 2014. The master plan recommended the City's growth be managed by supporting a shift from automobile to sustainable modes of transportation, including walking, cycling and transit, collectively referred to as active transportation.

    Since 2014, the City identified the need to focus on implementing active transportation policy and create the Active and Sustainable Transportation Plan. The Transportation Plan measured active transportation usage: confirmed the wants and needs of the community for walking, cycling, and transit connections, and formulated an implementation strategy. Coordinating the development of the Transportation Plan with the Parks, Recreation, and Culture Plan, and the Cultural Plan for a Creative Nanaimo will help the City to integrate mobility networks with parks and recreation facilities, and identify creative opportunities for public realm enhancements.

    The Transportation Plan also includes a strategy to support mobility for people of all ages and abilities as the City transitions from its current transportation network to a future network fostering active transportation. Additionally, the Transportation Plan includes a component of public education to provide residents with tools to age in place, offsetting the need for significant capital infrastructure investments.

    Climate Action Plan

    The City developed the Climate Action Plan in 2012 to address climate change by focusing on land use and transportation, buildings, energy systems, and solid waste. Since the City developed the Action Plan, the global awareness and understanding of climate change has increased significantly. To reflect the urgency of the issue, Council declared a climate emergency in 2019.

    By updating the Action Plan, the City has an opportunity to review its commitments to climate change generally, and specifically to reflect the target goals of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

    Economic Development Strategy

    Economic Health is one of the key pillars in the City's strategic plan. Economic development is the process of "creating wealth" through the mobilization of financial, physical, human and natural resources to improve the tax base and the quality of life in an area. It is about creating a vibrant, resilient and sustainable local economy that is inclusive of all persons that live, work, do business in, or receive services from our city.

    The City completed Nanaimo's current Economic Development Strategy and Investment Readiness Assessment inventory in 2011. The strategy identified four key objectives and various actions items to increase Nanaimo's competitiveness and prosperity. This strategy is now nine years old, and the economic landscape both locally and globally has changed significantly.

    City Council has expressed an interest in increasing economic development resources and recently committed to developing a new Economic Development Strategy in partnership with a number of non-profit partners in the community, such as Community Futures, Chamber of Commerce, Innovation Island, and the Mid-Island Business Initiative.

    Defining an economic development vision and specific goals that align with the City's strategic priorities is vital for informing economic development work plans for the next five years. An economic development strategy will help guide the collective efforts of the City, local organizations, businesses, and citizens to build a stronger local economy. The Strategy will ensure efficient and effective use of resources and help reduce duplication with partners.

    Water Supply Strategic Plan

    Nanaimo's 2007 Water Supply Strategic Plan provides a 50-year vision for the city's drinking water. Aligning with the Official Community Plan's vision of viability, environmental protection and sustainable management, the Strategic Plan espouses three fundamental goals:

    • Provide safe drinking water
    • Ensure a sustainable water supply
    • Provide cost-effective water delivery

    Major cornerstones of the 2007 Water Supply Strategic Plan include:

    • Begin planning for a water treatment plant in response to evolving regulations;
    • Begin planning to augment the supply (build a new dam) to be ready for 2020;
    • Continue building out a capital plan to ensure long-term viability and robustness of the supply;
    • Recognize water as a shared resource, including the environment and other communities

    Since 2007, the City constructed over $100 million in water supply infrastructure, including the flagship water treatment plant, reservoirs, pipe lines, and pump stations. The system is poised to serve the community for the coming decades.

    Notably, the City now consumes the same amount of water annually as it did in the mid-1990s, despite population growth of 25,000. Reduced water consumption has delayed the need to construct a $100 million dam by at least a decade and a half; however, climate change is accelerating the need for expanding the city's water supply.

    With a focus on sustainable service delivery, the City's water supply system continues to be robust; drinking water is managed through strategic and long-term planning. It deserves continued careful management and attention by the entire community. Including the Water Supply Strategic Plan in the 2020 strategic policy process will keep water resource management coherent across the organization, and drinking water prominent in the community.

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