Nanaimo’s Vital Signs Checks Local Quality of Life

I attended an event at Island Savings Credit Union that really got my attention. It was the release of Nanaimo’s first ever “Vital Signs” report. Vital Signs is an annual community check-up conducted by community foundations across Canada. It provides a comprehensive, reader-friendly look at how our communities are faring in key quality-of-life areas.

Nanaimo Foundation is one of only 28 such organizations in Canada, out of 190 that exist, to participate in Vital Signs. The Nanaimo Foundation recently announced their new partnership with the United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island (UWCNVI) and the City of Nanaimo in producing this report. Sponsored by Island Savings and supported by Vancouver Island University, this community check-up will identify Nanaimo’s strengths and highlight areas in need of attention.

“This project—tested by community foundations across the country—is an important tool that allows us to engage with the community in order to increase our understanding of Nanaimoʼs issues and trends and what our key priorities should be going forward,” said Tim Mawdsley, Director of Vital Signs with the Nanaimo Foundation.

Information in the report was gathered from a variety of sources, including surveys, roundtables, and census data. The results were compiled and are now presented in a reader-friendly, easy-to-use format to help increase understanding of how the community is doing and where it is heading. It tracks economic and environmental trends, health, arts & culture, socio-economic gaps, learning, safety, transportation, housing, multiculturalism, and a number of other factors that all contribute to quality of life issues. It also ranks Nanaimo in all these areas.

Signy Madden, Executive Director of UWCNVI, said “Partnering on Vital Signs is such a win/win for our donors and the community as a whole. United Way already tracks issues and invests in 33 effective programs in the Central Island this year, but we have wanted to combine our findings with others producing local data. Better data means more informed ways to tackle pressing social issues and to help galvanize community investment.”

The Vital Signs publication is part of a national initiative that was launched in 2006 by the Community Foundations of Canada. This is the first time the Vital Signs research was conducted in Nanaimo, and the report plays a key role in the Nanaimo Foundationʼs strategic plan to increase its community development contributions.

Vital Signs information is available through

Kim Smythe, President and CEO

Posted October 14, 2014

LNG for Vancouver Island

LNG -or Liquified Natural Gas – offers economic opportunities for businesses on Vancouver Island and throughout British Columbia. Most of the attention on this so-called panacea for our economic future has been focused on northern BC and the ports that will bid adieu to tankers full of it bound for demanding customers in Asia.

It is anticipated that LNG will create up to $1 trillion in economic activity and as many as 100,000 jobs in British Columbia over the next 30 years. The province is working to ensure the whole business community can participate in the opportunities LNG offers. The BC Jobs Plan includes significant investments and prosperity promises through LNG exports.

Many in our neck of the woods feel like we’re on the sidelines here. While it will be good for general revenue in the tax coffers, and it is likely to offer employment to everyone willing to leave the Island for points north, is there anything else that might slide off the side of the plate for us in Nanaimo?

Turns out the answer is yes. Two big ideas are being floated. Nanaimo has one of the finest deep sea ports on Canada’s west coast. And it has some very accessible flat land beside it. Both of these items are missing up and down the coastline. So it makes sense that all of the massive parts of the refineries that need to come from afar can be offloaded in Nanaimo for assembly by skilled trades people and then barged right to their industrial home sites near Kitimat and Prince Rupert. Voila – LNG refinery mecanno style.

Item #2: There are not enough homes, nor enough infrastructure, to house the people it will take to build the refineries in these resource towns. Building off-site ‘home bases’ for the thousands working on these projects creates opportunities again for Nanaimo. We already handle a significant number of Island residents taking charters and regularly scheduled flights to resource centres. We have the land, the infrastructure and the skills to build neighbourhoods to house them and grow a great city with excellent quality of life attributes for these newcomers.

The Chamber of Commerce is working with its partners as part of ‘Team Nanaimo’ to help make the business case for Nanaimo to share in the future of LNG. Stay tuned, we’ll be talking to the community as we move along and make progress for the entire community.

Posted October 14, 2014