Why do I love Nanaimo? Let’s take a walk.
I was asked recently why I call Nanaimo home, and it caused me to pause for a moment and reflect. I thought back to a few years ago when Johanna and I were building our new home and lived near the seawall. I recall watching the seasons change as the snow on the mountaintops slowly disappeared. Each day, we would stroll along the boardwalk at a leisurely pace, taking note of the vibrant and eclectic mix of people who were walking or jogging beside us with their children, spouse, dog, or friends.
We were captivated by the sheer number of birds that would perch themselves on the rocks, waiting for a crumb to drop or the annual migration of fish. We saw seals and eagles and small tidal pools brimming with life. There was a palpable vibration of energy from those who sat at the edge of the dock crabbing, and the buskers who regaled us with their artwork and entrepreneurial spirit. The sound of seaplanes taking off or landing gently on the water would be interwoven with the sounds of the kayakers and boaters greeting each other in passing. Often times, live music would echo from the Maffeo Sutton Park, and we would stop and enjoy the simple pleasure of a guitar, drum, or melodic voice. Families would gather with overflowing picnic baskets near the playground where children would run and play. It seemed to be a utopia – a perfect place designed for everyone to enjoy and celebrate.
We would breathe in the warm and salty air and stop by a coffee shop to grab a freshly brewed coffee and muffin and continue along the boulevard until it reached its end at Cameron Island. In the evenings, we would walk to local restaurants and enjoy the very best in Westcoast or international cuisine. We would become regulars at establishments and staff would greet us by name, inquiring if we would like our favorite table overlooking the bustling street. We would stretch our legs and walk home, our bellies and hearts full. We have traveled throughout the world, but for some reason (that I do not fully understand), it seems that the sunsets in Nanaimo are the most beautiful in the world.
I see the beauty in my city. I see the struggle of a downtown core that is in the process of gentrification, as more people return to live, shop and eat in small independent stores and restaurants. I recognize the disheartened faces of those suffering from addiction and health issues. I cannot close my eyes to the reality that my city is changing, redefining itself and that the process is not always painless. However, I see the heart of the city, like so many others, and appreciate the natural beauty and opportunity that exists in this spectacular area of the world. With new developments poised to define our city’s neighbourhoods, and a strong desire to preserve the integrity of our Old City heritage homes, Nanaimo is melding the best of our past with the best of what is yet to come.
As I read the newspapers and glance at the social media posts, I recognize that for every story of loss, there is one of hope, redemption and prosperity. The politics of our City will not break us. Those who have been tasked with managing our city’s operations who have failed will face reckoning. We, the residents of Nanaimo, will show our power through our vote in the upcoming election. Excuses will be replaced with hope for a stronger vision and fiscal responsibility for a city that I love.
It can become overwhelming at times. The potential that exists for Nanaimo is limitless, and we, as residents, must recognize that our community is strong, passionate and proud. When we need to remind ourselves of how fortunate we are, we can just take a long stroll along our waterfront to be reminded of why we are so fortunate to live in a city surrounded by nature in its most glorious form. This is why I call Nanaimo home.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Brian & Myles McCullough