Nanaimo This Week: An award-winning reno

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

Writing a newsletter every week, in addition to reporting, has been a new experience for me. When I worked as a reporter and entertainment editor at the Nanaimo Daily News, I would sometimes write an editorial here and there, but it wasn’t a regular thing.

These days, the media landscape is changing quickly. Many reporters are leaving traditional newsroom jobs to create their own independent “media empires” at venues like Substack, which specializes in subscription newsletters.

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When you subscribe, you’ll get Nanaimo This Week straight to your inbox every Thursday — giving you the first peek at our latest investigations, local news updates, upcoming events and ways to get involved in our community.

Speaking to the New York Times last year, journalist Casey Newton, who had just left his job at publication The Verge to start his own newsletter, Platformer, summed up the trend by saying that people may follow publications, but “it’s more likely you care about an individual reporter or writer or YouTuber or podcaster. People are increasingly willing to pay to support those people.”

Most analyses seem to agree with the point that Casey makes. As trust in traditional media outlets reaches an all-time low, people are turning to news and commentary from individual reporters, often in the form of direct newsletters. The decline in revenue for the media industry, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, means even more reporters either out of a job or seeking independence and editorial freedom are turning to this new format.

In my limited experience so far, I can see the attraction of a format like what I do here at The Discourse, wherein being supported by readers directly through subscriptions or monthly donations, there is a flexibility and freedom to pursue stories that I didn’t have before. I also like the direct connection to readers; a sort of virtual intimacy that feels all the more urgent given the level of isolation we have all endured.

This brings me to ask what you would like to see here in the newsletter. How can we improve? What do you want to see in your inbox each week? As always, this is an interactive process. Take the survey here.

In other news

👉The City of Nanaimo have brought back their popular tree voucher program for registered property owners. Sign up to purchase a tree to plant on your property for $25.

👉  Every year, Vancouver Island University’s physics professor Ray Penner puts on a popular show where he demonstrates physics and chemistry experiments in a performative format that is a bit like a magic show. This year, the pandemic made his live performance tricky, so Ray decided to get creative and asked the university’s marketing and advancement department to help him put together a series of videos. “From breaking a concrete block on Penner while he lies on a bed of nails, to an explanation of chaos theory using a double pendulum, to using sound waves to break glass, to what happens when you decide to snack on a graham cracker dipped in liquid nitrogen, each video explains the science behind the experiments Penner and his team perform,” says a statement from VIU. You can watch the videos here.

👉  The BC Farmers Market organization, which represents more than 145 farmers markets in B.C., submitted a petition with 1,118 signatures to the House of Commons on April 23 calling on the federal government to expand the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program (FMNCP) across Canada. The FMNCP exists to provide coupons for low-income families, seniors and pregnant women to be used at local farmers’ markets. 

👉 Nanaimo RCMP are asking for public assistance with locating a 20-year-old man named Simon Baker who has been missing since the afternoon of April 21 and was last seen leaving his home in an extremely emotional state. “Baker did not take his wallet or cell phone with him, and based on this, his family is extremely worried for his safety and well-being,” states Gary O’Brien, media relations officer for the Nanaimo RCMP.

👉 Residents of select Nanaimo neighbourhoods can now participate in neighbourhood safety audit pre-surveys so the Nanaimo Community Policing program can learn more about what the streets are like for residents from a public safety perspective. 

Community shout-out 

 “I thought the house was a tear down,” says Kevin Brandt in a message, who won the Nanaimo Community Archives’s first annual Heritage House Renovation Award last week for the renovations he completed on his 108-year-old house at 722 Haliburton Street.  “I found the original siding when I went to put in a screen door. I went to the Archives and found out my house was over a hundred years old. Not built in the ’50s. Started exposing the original and went from there.”

Kevin’s sister Brenda Oswald wrote in and said that she told her brother about the award when she read about it in The Discourse. “I sent that article to my brother who has been working on his house [and] he sent pictures to the Historical Society,” she wrote. “If I hadn’t seen this article (I live in Calgary) he wouldn’t have won!” 

You can watch the Community Archives’ video of the contest to see additional transformations. 

Side by side images display a broken down blue heritage home and a fully restored home on the right shining in pink.
” I amazed myself at the beauty that was developing beneath my hands,” Kevin wrote on Facebook. Photo submitted by Kevin Brandt

On the Island

IndigiNews managing editor Emilee Gilpin and Nanaimo/Snuneymuxw-based child welfare reporter Anna McKenzie recently appeared on CHEK News’ Our Native Land podcast to talk about their work. “I started the role by doing sort of a broad outreach connecting with community,” says Anna. “Really spoke with folks about ‘What do you want to hear? How do you want to be represented?’ because Indigenous children and youth in care are often misrepresented or retraumatized by the stories that are coming out about their experiences. And what I heard was that there needs to be a balance of the good work that’s going on in community to support children and youth in care as well as some of the very real things that are impacting our families.” Watch the full interview with host Tchadas Leo.

🌊  What does it take to fight urban incursion? In The Discourse West Shore’s latest, reporter Shalu Mehta explores how the District of Highlands was envisioned as a forested refuge away from urban bustle and how residents are fighting to keep it that way. “The pressure to make room for Greater Victoria’s growing population is enormous. In 2020 four West Shore municipalities made the top-10 list of fastest-growing B.C. communities, with Langford taking the top spot. Meanwhile, the estimated population of the District of Highlands went down between 2019 and 2020, from 2,473 to 2,451 residents. But Highlanders are unified in their vision for their community, and that vision is as a place of refuge, away from the urban noise,” she writes. 

🌊 Nuu-chah-nulth Nations on the west coast of Vancouver Island are celebrating a B.C. Court of Appeal decision that reaffirms their rights to an unlimited commercial fishery on their own lands. “The decision upholds parts of a 2018 B.C. Supreme Court ruling that found Canada has infringed on the five nations’ rights to harvest and sell fish. It also removes limitations placed during that lower court ruling around the scale of the fisheries – including what size and type of vessels can be used,” writes Cara McKenna for IndigiNews

What’s going on?

  • Every Wednesday: The Island Roots farmers’ market at Beban Park has now moved outside for the season. You can stock up every Wednesday from 2 to 6 p.m. Explore the mouth-watering full list of vendors here. Masks are mandatory.
  • Friday, April 30: At noon on Zoom, join the journalists behind The Discourse’s recent Food For Thought series for a discussion and Q&A about the work. Register here.
  • Friday, May 14: The ever-popular Bee’s Knees Cafe and Catering online Persian cooking classes with Shirin are back! Register before it’s too late, details on their website.
  • Sunday, May 16: Go for a woodpecker walk at Wildwood Ecoforest and check out the five species of woodpecker. Learn to identify different woodpecker holes and listen to the unique call of the pileated woodpeckers.


Hi Julie!

I hated hearing on CHEK TV about a man who is living in his RV on a farmer’s land. Private property. And is being told by the Regional District that he cannot stay there! This is insanity! Would they rather this man was on the streets? What are we coming to? Please follow up on people one step away from being on the streets when they are living in their RV’s on private land! We have a home on a residential lot in Cedar. Many of our neighbours have beautiful big RV’s in their driveways which they might use a handful of times during the next few weeks. What’s the difference? If we had the space on our lot, I’d happily give or rent space to an RV containing one, or even two responsible adults who would help us with veggie and fruit etc. gardening and take a share! We need creative, cooperative, collaborative, outside of the box thinking to make sure everyone who has an RV that they call home, has a place to put it!

Thanks for letting me rant!

Jane Bryony-Shaw

As always, I appreciate your feedback. Drop me a note, anytime. And thanks again for making this work possible. [end]

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