Cleaning up the Cat Stream

On February 18, 2023 another work party convened on the Cat Stream in the old city. Over 50 plants and trees were planted including Western Red Cedar, Pacific Ninebark and Hardhack in an effort to restore and support the riparian zone. Lots of invasive Himalayan Blackberry was removed too!

The work crew!
Hard at work!
Planting new trees!

Haggis Alert!

The hunt is on.
Authorities are combing the Old City Quarter following reports of Haggis fighting in the area. Apparently some young alpha male haggis which recently escaped from the Haggis farm at Mount Benson have become unruly following tussles with the local rabbit population over grazing rights. Media spokesperson Willie McBungle the local Conversation Officer (or should that be Conservation Officer) issued the following statement: “We expect to have the situation under control very quickly. Fortunately McLean’s Specialty Foods holds exclusive title to the hereditary Haggis harvesting license, and they have agreed to round up these critters and sell them off in time for Robbie Burns Day on January 25.” Just like in the fabled story, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, McLean’s will use the services of a piper to lead them to their fate on the 25th. Hopefully there will then be peace in the area at least until next year!

Boulevard Garden Guidelines

The City of Nanaimo defines a boulevard “as the area between the street curb and the sidewalk, owned by the City, that’s typically planted with grass and trees. Residents may transform the boulevard adjacent to their home into a well-designed and well- maintained garden using this guide. Boulevard gardens can create more beautiful, interesting and diverse streets, add character to neighbourhoods and increase feelings of community pride. They also provide environmental benefits such as increasing ecological diversity and providing bird, butterfly and pollinator habitats.”

NOCA has an active boulevard beautification program. Contact us at if you’d like to get involved and learn more from your neighbours who are beautifying their boulevards.

Learn more on the City of Nanaimo website.

Neighbourhood priorities for 2023

What are your priorities for your neighbourhood?

Your NOCA Board of Directors is discussing priorities for the coming year. Here’s what we’ve come up with.  

1. Continue our program of boulevard and alleyway beautification.

2. Promote safety in the neighbourhood through changes to the built environment.

3. Continue to promote walkability and a sense of community in our neighbourhood.

4. Continue to lobby to ensure the design of any new development respects the character of the neighbourhood.

5. Promote environmentally sustainable design for new and retrofitted buildings incorporating green space in its broadest sense (e.g. shade trees, pocket parks, food gardens).

What do YOU think? Let us know by emailing

City of Nanaimo Tree Voucher Program

If you are a registered property owner in the City of Nanaimo, you can participate in the city’s tree voucher program. This means you can purchase a tree to plant on your property for a reduced cost of $25 each. 


  • Must be a registered property owner in the City of Nanaimo;
  • Property owners are limited to 2 vouchers per year;
  • Not redeemable for cash;
  • Redemption value not to exceed $90.00;
  • Vouchers are not to be used to fulfill Tree Removal or Building Permit Requirements.
  • All sales are final once vouchers are redeemed.

Learn more and find the application form on the Tree Voucher Page of the City of Nanaimo website.

Fall Cleanup, Saturday, Oct 22

Get outside and clean your yards, boulevards, and streets. Mow your lawn, tidy your yard, wear a green shirt and help a neighbour.

Contact us  ( if you would like to volunteer to pick up garbage in the old city.

Meet at Pawson Park 1:45pm for garbage bags, pickers and vests supplied by the city of Nanaimo. 

2pm- 3pm Clean a section of street that you choose in the old city.

3pm Sharp. Drop off your garbage bag at Pawson Park for the city to pick up and return your gear. This is for garbage pick up on the streets and alleyways by our volunteers only. 

3:30pm meet at White Rabbit Coffee (in the old train station on Selby Street) for coffee/tea to celebrate.

In-person AGM!

Mark your calendars for our Annual General Meeting on Friday, October 14 at 6:45 pm. We meet in the hall at St. Andrew’s United Church on Wesley Street.

Community/Heritage planner Chris Sholberg from the City of Nanaimo will speak about the new City Plan and how it affects the old city. Get an update on what the Association has been up to in the past year and elect the Board of Directors for 2022-2023. Memberships are still only $10 for individuals and $20 for a family. New this year – you can pay via e-transfer to – please list the name(s) and address of those paying their memberships.

You can also fill in a membership form and bring it to the meeting if you’d like to get more involved! We’d love to have you join!

Meet your neighbours!

We are highlighting a number of Old City businesses. Here is information about Compassion Inspired Health

How long have you been in the Old City and what brought you to the neighbourhood? I found my way to the Old City 15 years ago when I was working with NARSF Programs.

What do you love the most about the Old City? I love the diversity. The proximity to everything. It is such a livable space.

What would you like to see more in the neighbourhood? I love some of the Old City events like the Christmas walkabout and seed swap and would love to see more.

Tell us about your business in the old city. I am a Psychotherapist and a Mindful Self-Compassion Teacher offering individual/couple counselling and group workshops (in-person up at Bethlehem Centre) and online with my colleague Dr. Kristy Williams. For many years I worked with NARSF Programs and Nanaimo Hospice, however now I offer a part-time private practice as well as teaching mindfulness programs. This year, we have a 6 week live online class starting Monday the 19th, an in-person weekend retreat on November 5/6th and a week long intensive retreat in the spring of 2023.

What is another business in the OCQ you think is great? Oh goodness so many! From cafes to restaurants, massage, osteopathy and of course Superette – we have everything.

Walking through the front garden
Upcoming courses
Front porch

Solace Centre

How long have you been in the Old City? Since 2007.

Any unique stories about your building? We moved in after the house had a huge renovation by moving the house to the back of the lot.

What do you love the most about the Old City? The diversity and community feel.

What would you like to see more of? More events and vegetarian restaurants.

Tell us about your business. Lynne Carroll RMT practices out of the space. Although her schedule is full, she will call the wait list when cancellations occur. Join the wait list! Together, Lynne Carroll and Jaspaul Khalsa offer Kundalini Yoga and Meditation at the Rotary Field Bowl (more space there than Solace). Follow them to find out schedules, upcoming workshops and retreats.

What other business you think is great in the Old City? Valerie Veilleux and Markus Hastings (ARTISTS)

Window Seat Books

How long have you been in the Old City and what brought you to the neighbourhood? I’ve been here for 4 years now! It is because of the Old City Quarter that I opened my bookstore actually. I was investigating what it would take for me to open the business, if it was something I wanted to do and just looking at what was for rent in Nanaimo and then I found 309C Wesley Street. It felt like the perfect spot to open my little bookstore. The area was so quaint with beautiful views and awesome neighbours. I didn’t want to miss the chance to be in the OCQ, so I just did it! It is beautiful, I love my neighbours and it is downtown, which makes me feel like I live in a city.

Do you know the history of your lot or building? When was it built? First owners/use? Unique stories?

Honestly, I am not too sure about the history of the building (Heritage Mews) but I do know the OCQ used to be where all the gambling and tomfoolery happened! I have had many people coming in to the store letting me know what the space used to be though, and so far this space has held a flower shop, a fabric store, a henna tattoo shop. Thank you for this question though, because now I am very interested in finding out about first owners and use. There is a lot of history to be learned, you can do Heritage Walks and there are plaques in the area dedicated to pioneer Nanaimo residents. Now you have inspired me to take the time to learn.

What do you love the most about the Old City? Our neighbours! It really feels like a self-sustaining little community! There’s coffee, and plants, and tattoos and haircuts, pizza and sushi, clothing and kids toys, stationary and books, housewares and health cares…. it’s just such a wonderful area to play! There is a lot of love and pride for the area and it seems like all the businesses really care about growing it into a fun, interesting and welcoming place to be.

What would you like to see more in the neighborhood? I’m really hoping to convince my neighbors to stay up all night one day (or just open late)! When I lived in Montreal, there was a thing called Nuit Blanche, where businesses, museums, movie theaters etc. would open their doors all night until 3-4 in the morning. It felt special to go to the spa at midnight. So, yes, more special events I guess, but this year it has really been great! We’ve had the Soap Box Derby, the Wine Walk, a Car Show, and the Nanaimo International Jazz Festival. It is inspiring to see everyone cooperate to bring more life to the neighborhood

Tell us about your business in the old city. Windowseat Books is a cozy independent bookstore on Wesley Street. We are the only bookstore in downtown Nanaimo that sells new books with about a 10 year gap since the last one, so we are very excited to be here! We have a small but always interesting selection of books, and we try to keep all different tastes in mind when we order. We want our readers to be able to find something to read no matter how they feel that day. A little something for everyone. We try to carry a good balance of familiar and well-loved authors as well as lesser-known but must-read authors, especially Canadian, especially from up and coming publishers. Finding those awesome reads is our passion! We love helping our readers find the perfect book for them and if we don’t have what you are looking for, we also do special orders for you. It has been amazing growing our business in the OCQ. We now hope to bring more readings and literary events!

What is another business in the OCQ you think is great? This feels like choosing a favourite parent! How could I choose just one?! There are shops, like Mad About Ewe and Yours & Mine Consignment, who were so welcoming and kind when I first moved in. White Rabbit and Common Foundry have worked really hard to collaborate with everyone in OCQ and create a community. There is Plantara that felt like a breath of fresh air when they opened a year ago. And then, Jonny’s Barber Shop, right next door, who acts as our DJ in the summer and our best friend in the winter. We’re tied at the hips now; I can’t imagine not having him as our neighbour!

Window Seat books

Alec and Sharon are happy to live in the old city

How long have you lived in the old city? We have lived in the neighbourhood since 2013.  We moved here so our daughters could attend VIU,  and to prepare for retirement. 
Our home on Milton Street was constructed between 1902 and 1908. It is well known in Nanaimo as the dashound house. There once was a doggie party where 63 dashboards showed up!
We were drawn to the neighbourhood by its character and walkability, and drawn to our home by the character, garden, and views. 
What would you like to see more of in the old city? I would like our neighbourhood to be safer and calmer and quieter.  A density increases, traffic increases. It would be good if the neighbourhood did not suffer more noise and speeding. We have had little to do with NOCA, but appreciate the work they did in holding the old hospital site to city’s neighbourhood plan. 

Supportive Housing at 285 Prideaux Street

Construction is about to begin at the BC Housing housing project at 285 Prideaux Street. Construction workers from NRB Modular Solutions will be on site beginning August 22, 2022 to begin construction. This project will bring 51 supportive homes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to Nanaimo. The project is anticipated to be completed in spring 2023.

What you can expect: 

– Hours of work will be Monday to Saturday, between 7 am and 6 pm. Some work may also take
place on Sundays between 9 am and 5 pm.
– There will be security patrols at the site at various times.
– There will be noise from excavation equipment, earth moving machinery, concrete delivery trucks
and other heavy equipment, particularly for the initial 10 weeks of construction
– The westbound lane of Fitzwilliam Street adjacent to the site will be closed off. The sidewalk along this section will also be closed 24 hours a day until this scope of work is complete.
– There will be potential road closures during off-site civil works for approximately two months starting in early 2023 affecting Prideaux Street and the left turn lane of Fitzwilliam Street.

BC Housing will continue to keep the neighbourhood informed about this project. Learn more at:

Questions and feedback can be sent to BC Housing at

Onsite emergency contact:
Ryan Maas