Nanaimo This Week: An ‘absurd’ idea

Welcome to Nanaimo This Week, your weekly local newsletter. Sign up  to get our latest investigations and community highlights straight to your inbox. 

This week we are excited to present another article in our solutions series Making Rent on rental (un)affordability in Nanaimo. Contributing reporter Hilary Eastmure shows how Nanaimo’s new rent bank helps families stay housed. Here’s an excerpt:

“I’ve had quite a few people tell me that they can finally sleep at night and I feel like that’s making up for the lack of sleep I’m getting!” says Azura Kines. At Nanaimo’s fledgling rent bank, the sole case worker has been working hard to keep up with high demand and witnessing the positive impact firsthand since the Nanaimo Region John Howard Society started serving residents on Jan. 18, 2021.

Nanaimo’s new rent bank enables individuals to apply for zero-interest loans of up to $1,500 or $1,800 for families to help cover unpaid rent, upcoming rent they can’t afford or up to $500 to cover unpaid essential utilities. 

“I’ve had quite a few success stories,” says Kines. “I’ve seen a lot of tears in the past couple months. A lot of people who have gone through literally every other option… it is rewarding to see the relief that comes with getting that payment and getting that cheque to their landlord.”

Read the full story here.

In other news 

The City of Nanaimo has launched three surveys to ask residents for their thoughts on renting in Nanaimo, what they think of short-term rentals like Airbnbs, and what people’s experiences are as landlords in the city. Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog told the CBC’s Early Edition that the number of short-term rentals in the city has increased from 416 to 549 since 2017 and that they are wondering if it is “having a negative impact on the rental situation.”

There’s a boost in interest from developers to build micro suites in Nanaimo, which are defined as 312 square feet or less, and benefit from cost charge reductions from the city, Nanaimo News Now reports. With vacancy rates for bachelor units hovering at zero per cent, these units make up part of the city’s affordable housing strategy, according to director of development approvals, Jeremy Holm.


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On the Island

Snuneymuxw Knowledge Keeper Dave Bodaly recently invited IndigiNews reporter Anna McKenzie to visit his workshop space where he offers programming for Indigenous children and youth, centered around xpey’ (red cedar). Bodaly “has created a workshop space as beautiful as a copper shield in bright sunlight,” writes Anna.  

For the third piece of a three-part series on traditional Indigenous foods, The Discourse Cowichan talks with chef Tyrone Sylvester and Cowichan Elder Fred Roland about modern hwulmuhw foods and the struggle to hunt and harvest traditional foods, writes reporter Jared Qwustenuxun Williams. Read part one here and part two here.

Wait times for status card renewals should be the same as passports, as they are both government-issued identity documents, says Vivian Hermansen, a member of Snuneymuxw First Nation, living in Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw territory in Campbell River, B.C, who’s drafted a petition calling on the House of Commons to find solutions. Odette Auger of IndigiNews reports.


Community shout-out

 In response to ongoing discussions about the future of old-growth forests, local artist Titia Jetten innovated a potential solution. She created a painting that “represents the need for modern stewardship of the old-growth trees, their connected watersheds and ecosystems on Vancouver Island,” made it a non-fungible token (NFT) and put it up for sale for 31,000 ethereum. “Is this an abstract, an absurd and crazy idea, it totally is,” she says. “If you don’t try anything nothing will happen.”

Art by Titia Jetten

Local Nanaimo poet and writer Kim Goldberg has taken to social media looking for answers after noticing that the top of a retaining wall under Pearson Bridge on the waterfront near Maffeo Sutton Park is fenced off. “The scaffolding is there because a metal cage is being installed along the entire top of the retaining wall to prevent our unhoused citizens from sleeping behind the wall, where they can stay dry and safe,” writes Kim, who is uncertain if the action is being taken by the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure or the City of Nanaimo. “Unhoused members of our community have been using that space behind the wall as their night-time shelter for more than a decade.” 

Scaffolding under Pearson Bridge is shown marked by two traffic cones.
Scaffolding under Pearson Bridge. Photo submitted by Kim Goldberg.

Nanaimo Animal Control Services shelter are posting photos of found animals on their Facebook page, if any local animal sleuths want to help these furry friends find their way home. 

What’s going on?

  • Thursday, April 15: Catch the final event of Vancouver Island University’s Anti-Racism Arts Festival, where a series of pieces from the Creative Writing 310 and 410 classes will be shared online.
  • Saturday, April 17: Champagne Hill Botanicals are offering a herbal pesto workshop as part of their “foraging and feasting” class series.
  • Sunday, April 18: The Cedar Farmer’s Market will host a special early market to ring in the spring and welcome some early harvests. Their regular season will then launch as scheduled on Mother’s Day, May 9 and then every Sunday through until Halloween.
  • Friday, April 23: Check out Satellite and the Harpoonist, featuring Nanaimo musician Shawn Hall as they perform a livestream concert at The Port Theatre. Tickets are free but need to be registered in advance.
  • Saturday, April 24: Does your pet have a microchip if they go missing? CatNap Society is hosting a microchip fundraiser clinic in Nanaimo from 9 to 1 p.m. Dogs and cats are welcome at $30 per chip. Proceeds go directly to helping rescued feral and abandoned cats in and around Nanaimo.
  • Sunday, April 25: Local non-profit literary society WordStorm is celebrating Poetry Month 2021 with a special online event featuring Sonnet L’Abbe and Stephen Collis.

Photo of the week

This week’s photo of an eagle at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith was taken on April 1 by Drew Chisholm. What photo should we feature next? Send yours in reply to this email, or via The Discourse Nanaimo Facebook group

Photo by Drew Chisholm


I received many insightful letters from you in response to last week’s newsletter, thank you for sending. Here are just a few:

“Nice report Julie. My wife and I visited Avatar Grove a couple of years ago after the clever and imaginative Ken Wu gave it a name. Premier Horgan should make Teal-Jones an offer on the old-growth patches in dispute that it cannot refuse.Further thought: The U.S. long ago set aside two vast areas of old-growth Redwood and Giant Sequoia trees as national parks. Canada has never, as far as I know, even contemplated doing the same. A good case could be made that the Province should make Teal- Jones that offer and at the same, invite the feds to establish a national park encompassing the few river valley bottom old-growth patches that remain – or make them an adjunct of Pacific Rim National Park.”—Eric Ricker
“I read with interest your article on Fairy Creek and Old Growth / Ancient Forests.  With all due respect, I disagree with your view on this subject.

Please allow me to explain. I am a retired bush pilot. I was fortunate to have had the privilege and opportunity to fly into places that very few people ever get to see. Years ago, my youngest daughter wanted to see an ancient old-growth forest. On one flight, I landed at Yakoun Lake on Haida Gwaii.We walked into the remains of one of the last ancient forests on Haida Gwaii. It was very difficult and very dangerous to maneuver in this forest. The once great and giant Western Red cedar, Douglas fir and Western spruce trees had fallen years ago. As we carefully climbed over and under these fallen giants, we could see a new forest growing up on top of the fallen old forest. The remains of these giant evergreens were the food needed by the new forest that was growing on top of them. Because of the dangerous environment that we were attempting to traverse, we were unable to go very far through the decaying ancient forest.It was very quiet, damp and dark, it was rich in nutrients and oxygen. It smelled healthy, but also of decay. New trees were growing out of the decaying remains of the once giant evergreens. This area had never been logged, it was a natural ancient old-growth forest.On another flight, we were able to experience the grandeur and pristine beauty of Lepas Bay on the NW tip of Graham Island. We walked along a trail through a beautiful new growth forest that was probably over a century old. I pointed out the stumps of the large evergreens that had been harvested years ago. This forest was healthy, vibrant and smelled of life. If left to nature, eventually the winter gales would blow these healthy evergreens over. Eventually, a new forest would arise from the decay of the old forest. Forestry allows us to harvest these magnificent evergreens and provide well-paying jobs to thousands of British Columbians. Eventually, a new healthy forest will grow up over the remains of the older forest. I guess the point that I am trying to make is the fact that these magnificent evergreens are living organisms and will all eventually die naturally. We should enjoy them as we can, but eventually, they will all die, one way or the other.”

—Jimbo Pearce
Your letters, feedback and support make this work possible. Thank you for being a part of it.

Julie Chadwick [end]

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