Recent Posts

June 15, 2023

Unsheltered Neighbours Working Group – Our goal is support our unsheltered neighbours and find solutions to stop the vandalism, fires, drug use in front of areas where children gather in the old city.  All residents of the old city are welcome to attend our working group meetings which happen once a month either 10:30 am at La Isla Cafe or evening meetings at 7 pm at the Black Rabbit restaurant.

Upcoming Meetings
Wednesday, July 19 – 7 to 8 pm
Wednesday, September 20 – 7 to 8 pm
Wednesday, October 18 – 10:30 to 11:30 am
Wednesday, November 15 – 7 to 8 pm

May 1, 2023

Nanaimo Mental Health and Substance Abuse information – check the link below for information on services offered by Island Health in the areas of mental health and substance abuse.


Nanaimo Mental Health and Substance Abuse information

January 23, 2023

Who to Call

The City of Nanaimo publishes a Who to Call brochure each year with contact numbers for Public Works, Bylaws, Community Response and Shelters.

Public Safety – Who to Call

April 5, 2022

Meet your neighbours

We are featuring folks who live in the old city.  Meet Ian and Cindy.

How long have you been in the Old City and what brought you to the neighbourhood? 
We have lived in the Old City since 2007.  We wanted to settle in the Old City because we liked the character of the neighbourhood.  We love the mature trees and lanes of the neighbourhood.

Do you know the history of your lot or building? When was it built? First owners/use? Unique stories?
Our home was built in 1952.  We are only the third owners of this home.  The property that our home is on was originally part of the neighbour’s property and served as the garden area.  Our property was the garden for the original larger property.

What do you love the most about the Old City?
We love the sense of neighbourhood.  Neighbours usually know one another and care for one another.  The mix of homes and diversity of people are a real strength.  Residents care about our shared space. It is not uncommon to see folks taking care of their community through actions such as picking up litter and planting trees in the boulevard.  The community book exchange libraries are also pretty cool.  There are three community bookcases within one block of our home.  In the words of the Urban Planner, Jane Jacobs, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because,  and only when, they are created by everybody.”

What would you like to see more in the neighbourhood? 
With the pandemic becoming more manageable – fingers crossed – it will be great to see more social events at Pawson Park.   As well, let’s continue to protect and enhance the green space of the Old City.

Tell us about your experiences with NOCA
I served on NOCA’s Board of Directors for about five years.  It was great to be part of an active neighbourhood association that advanced the interests of the neighbourhood.  NOCA worked hard to ensure that the development of 388 Machleary was consistent with our local neighbourhood plan and the vision of local residents.

February 22, 2022

Beautify the Boulevards and Alleyways in the old city!

Kick off on Sunday, March 13, 2022 from 1 to 4 pm at Pawson Park (corner of Franklyn and Machleary streets).

What does a beautiful neighbourhood look like?
You may have noticed some of our fellow Old City area residents have made gardens on the street side
of their homes. We’d like to help you do the same. NOCA has formed a committee to help you develop a small garden near your home. This could be in the strip between the sidewalk and the curb, within a traffic calming ‘bump out’ like those along the 300 and 400 blocks of Milton Street, or any roadside green space you would like to transform.
We can offer design help, examples of current boulevard gardens, seeds, plants, gardening tips, and manual labour to get you started. Contact us if you live in the old city and would like a free seed package with various plants to start beautifying your boulevard. Packages will be handed out March 13.
Your ideal boulevard planting might include drought resistant, food, ornamental, or pollinator attracting plants, or a combination. Learn more by coming to our project kick off on Sunday, March 13, 2022.
Would you like to share gardening methods, plants that are important to you and methods of gardening significant to your culture? Contact us to book your spot to speak at our Kick off March 13. Neighbors are encouraged to bring seeds/plants significant to you to give away trade or sell.
Thank you to the Nanaimo Foundation and neighborhood small grants for the grant to start this project.
We will have a gathering on May 28 for all participants to share about their experience. We would love to hear your ideas, and welcome volunteers and resources. Contact the committee here on facebook or email us at :
City of Nanaimo requests for this project:
– Notify the city of your boulevard location
– You the residents are responsible for maintenance of your boulevards
– Anything planted or placed will technically become City property, so if necessary, at some point could be removed or altered
– The responsibility is on the residents to know of the location of any underground services before digging or planting
–  Participants must not dig, disturb or pile excessive materials in the critical root zone of City boulevard trees

– Plants chosen should not obstruct visibility of roads. 

If you  would like to have a tree planted in these landscapes, please notify the city by contacting Patrick McIntosh, the Urban Forestry Coordinator at the City of Nanaimo at 250 755 4460 (local 4357) If 
you are willing to enter a watering agreement the city could have a tree purchased and planted for you. 

November 20, 2021

Nanaimo has a new Animal Responsibility Bylaw.  Be a good neighbour and familiarize yourself with the Bylaw by reading this Fast Facts Brochure.

NOCA is taking an educational role and spreading the word.  Talk with your neighbours and let’s continue to make the old city the best place to live in Nanaimo!

October 30, 2021

Did you know that NOCA has a Facebook group and Instagram page?  Check out the links below to see what’s happening in the old city!

NOCA Facebook Group

NOCA Instagram Page

August 30, 2021

A Development Permit for 388 Machleary Street, to allow for a seniors’ congregate housing development, was approved by Nanaimo City Council on August 30, 2021. The site is zoned for this type of development.

April 21, 2021

It was a warm and sunny day, perfect weather for our first neighbourhood cleanup day.  In addition to asking old city residents to spend some time sprucing up their yards and collecting litter, a NOCA member offered the use of a 4’x 8′ trailer for anyone who needed larger items or garden waste too big for their green bin, to be picked up.  A team of volunteers made a total of 6 stops, including one a drop-off of 5 buckets of bricks!  Nine households took advantage of the offer. 155 kg of garbage and metal recycling was dropped off at the Nanaimo Regional Landfill.  Stay tuned for our fall event and continue to take pride in your neighbourhood!

April 8, 2021

Dear Nanaimo Old City Neighbourhood residents and businesses,

The Nanaimo RCMP Community Policing Program invites you to complete a survey that will help gauge levels of safety in our neighbourhood.  This survey is a first step in the Neighbourhood Safety Audits Initiative.  

Dates have not yet been set for the Safety Audits.  However, completed surveys will help to identify areas in our neighbourhood the audit should focus on.  Dates will be set in the upcoming weeks.

The survey for the Old City Neighbourhood can be accessed directly by entering this link into your web browser or clicking here:

The survey will take approximately 15-20 minutes of your time and all responses to the survey will remain confident and anonymous. The Nanaimo RCMP Community Policing Program thanks you for taking the time to participate in this survey as it will further improve their ability to work with various neighborhoods in Nanaimo.

*if you would like a paper copy of this survey please call 250-755-3163

For more information on the Neighbourhood Safety Audits or to register for our Neighbourhood’s Safety Audit please go to: or call the Community Policing Coordinator at 250-755-3163 or via email at or

October 21, 2020

NOCA members elected a new Board of Directors at our AGM on October 19, 2020. Serving you for the 2020/2021 term:

Joy Adams Bauer, Diane Caldwell-Demon, Chelsea Challis, Erin Chaba, Anna Mosolov, Mayta Ryn, Barbara Schreiber

March 2, 2019

The City of Nanaimo has received the Molnar Group’s application to amend the Official Community Plan for the property located at 388 Machleary Street (the former site of Malaspina Gardens/old Nanaimo Hospital).  The application is asking to “re-designate the land use designations in the Official Community and Old City Neighbourhood Concept Plans to authorize a medium-density multi-family residential development.”

You can view the application on the City of Nanaimo website at

You can provide feedback to your neighbourhood association about the application by completing our 8 question survey.  Please print the survey, complete and drop in the mailbox at 108 Milton Street or 25 Machleary Street. If you’d prefer to complete via email, please email

December 20, 2018

NOCA has been contacted by the Molnar Group about an Open House the Molnar Group is hosting in the New Year regarding their development proposal for the old hospital site at 388 Machleary Street. The Open House will be held from 5:30 to 7:00 pm on Friday, January 11, 2019 at St. Andrew’s United Church.  The Molnar Group tells us the purpose of the Open House is to give us an update on “where the design stands and any other related details (units, landscaping, parking, etc.).”

October 16, 2018

The new NOCA Board of Directors was elected at our AGM on October 15, 2018.  Board members for the 2018/2019 year are:

Joy Adams Bauer
Joy Anderson
Brian Booth
Ian Knipe
Penny MacMillan
Eve Reinarz
Kelsea Shadlock

Officers (President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer) will be selected at the Board’s first meeting in November.

September 30, 2018

City of Nanaimo planning staff have informed the NOCA Board that the Molnar Group continues to work on updating the required plans and supporting reports to advance the proposed development on the former hospital site on Machleary Street. When City of Nanaimo planning staff receive the updated project information, the city will refer the information to NOCA for review.

June 8, 2018

Update on 388 Machleary Street – The City of Nanaimo has informed the NOCA Board that planning staff have received formal applications to redevelop the property at 388 Machleary Street. Staff are reviewing the information submitted in support of the joint Official Community Plan (OCP) and Zoning Bylaw Amendment applications. As the initial review of the application continues by city staff, NOCA can expect to receive a referral request in the weeks ahead.

City staff also tell us that the formal amendment review process, will likely begin in the fall of this year (2018). Prior to the meeting of the city’s Community Planning and Development Committee, the developers are required to host an open house to provide the community with more information about the development proposal. City staff anticipate the developer’s open house will also likely be held in the fall of this year. For more information on 388 Machleary Street, visit our 388 Machleary Street page.

January 12, 2018

Meeting with city staff re 388 Machleary Street – In mid December, 2017, the 388 Machleary St. working group was invited to meet with key people from the Molnar Group and City of Nanaimo planning staff to discuss NOCA’s letter of November 8, 2017 to the Molnar Group.

The Molnar Group stated their intention to hold a second community meeting (expected in February 2018) to present more detailed proposals incorporating aspects of NOCA’s feedback to their original proposal (which Molnar shared with the neighbourhood at their “Community Talk/Preliminary Proposal”on October 17, 2017). Old City residents can anticipate receiving notification of the meeting by mail from the Molnar Group.

NOCA intends to canvas neighbourhood feedback by holding our own community meeting, details of which will be posted on our website and shared with residents via door to door leaflet distribution.We encourage your involvement and input in this important community issue! Stay tuned!!

December 12, 2017

NOCA appeared as a delegation at a City Council  meeting on Monday, December 11.  In her presentation, President Joy Adams Bauer highlighted some of our findings from the community visioning workshop held in May 2017. Click on the highlighted words to view the slides and read Joy’s remarks.

December 3, 2017

Members of the association met with city planning staff at the end of November.  We shared our comments about the proposal by The Molnar Group for development of the site at 388 Machleary St.  NOCA will appear as a delegation at a City Council  meeting on Monday, December 11.  President Joy Adams Bauer will highlight some of our findings from the community visioning workshop held in May 2017. In the weeks and months ahead, we look forward to continued discussions with city staff, elected officials, old city residents, any developers who come forward. You can view the information we shared with city planning staff on the link below.


November 13, 2017

On November 8, 2017, NOCA wrote to The Molnar Group outlining the association’s feedback to the October 17, 2017 “Community Talk/Preliminary Proposal” hosted by The Molnar Group regarding 388 Machleary Street (the site of the old Nanaimo Hospital/former Malaspina Gardens Seniors Residence).

The letter outlines views, comments and concerns about the proposed development as outlined by The Molnar Group at the October 17, 2017 meeting.  NOCA looks forward to continued engagement with The Molnar Group and the City of Nanaimo with the goal of achieving an outcome that considers the concerns of local residents and the integrity of the Old City.

Read the letter at the following link — LetterToMolnar388 MachlearyNov8_2017.

October 31, 2017

At our AGM on October 16, 2017, seven members of the association were elected to serve on the Board of Directors.  Thank you for your leadership and for supporting your old city community, a place we all love to call home. Your Board for the coming year is:

  • Joy Adams Bauer, President
  • Ian Knipe, Vice-President
  • Barbara Schreiber, Treasurer
  • Janet Wright, Secretary
  • Ian Easton, Eve Reinarz, Todd Trimble, Directors

October 17, 2017

Join us for a series of “feel good movies” at St. Andrews Church Hall (enter off Wesley Street).

Friday, February 16, 2018 – The Big Fish
Friday, March 16 – Coco
Friday, April 27 – Breathe
Friday, May 25 – Victoria and Abdul

Friday Night Feel Good Movies are supported by the Nanaimo Old City Association (NOCA).  Thank you to St. Andrews Church and Debbie Marshall for the use of their space, and Mark Tuit for the use of his sound system. Donations towards the hall and purchase of the movies are gratefully accepted!

October 10, 2017

The Molnar Group recently held its first community meeting (on October 17, 2017) to build on the community workshop report released by NOCA (in July 2017) about the site at 388 Machleary Street (the location of the former Malaspina Gardens Care Home and the old Nanaimo hospital).

The Molnar Group invited residents of the old city to hear, see and comment on the Molnar Group’s preliminary proposal for the site.

October 6, 2017

Demolition of the buildings at the former Malaspina Gardens property are well underway by Clearview Demolition Ltd. of Surrey, BC following presentation of a demolition permit application to City Council in August.  The NOCA Board, through a working group that includes non-board members of the association, continues its involvement in representing the neighbourhood in the future of this property.  Contact information for the demolition is posted on the project gates on Machleary Street, and contact with Clearview’s Project Manager for the site has been made.

Demolition is being undertaken in two phases:  (1) the newer (1992) addition – now completed, and (2) the original (1925) building.  Workplace BC is fully aware of the project and work procedures, and Clearview is adhering to the City’s noise bylaw regulations with respect to allowable days and hours for demolition activity.  A security guard is on site through the night.

An environmental assessment by Envirochem Environmental found non-friable (i.e. does not become airborne) asbestos in the original building, mainly in the flooring and some in the drywall.  Currently this being removed (completion expected by 3rd week in October).  Removal procedures include sealing areas inside the building where asbestos is to be removed, workers wear protective clothing, use of hepa filters, double-bagging asbestos materials, and testing areas for fibres after asbestos removal.  Demolition of the original building is expected to be completed before Christmas.

On request by NOCA to Chartwell Retirement Residences, the following features of the original building at the former front entrance on Kennedy Street will be saved:

  • the metal doorway pediment
  • the gateposts and stairway
  • the cornerstone near the front entrance

Once a new property owner is confirmed, NOCA will continue its initiatives to represent the neighbourhood in the property development process.

July 11, 2017

In spring of 2017, the Nanaimo Old City Association (NOCA) held workshops about the future of the Malaspina Gardens seniors home site when its owner and operator Chartwell moved residents to a new facility.  These workshops looked at the history, heritage values and possible future redevelopment issues for the site.  Approximately 60 participants completed a survey workbook on their opinions of issues and opportunities.

Executive summary of the results

  • Respect for the heritage values of the site is very important, but that does not mean that the old building needs to be saved, as there is widespread understanding that saving the building will be challenging and expensive.  Other options can include saving part of the building, saving and reusing artifacts or materials from the building, or providing interpretive information about the site.
  • While there is a community plan in place (OCP / Neighbourhood plan) and some feel strongly that it should be followed, others are open to changes in the residential uses on the site and even the inclusion of other local, low-impacts uses that would benefit the neighbourhood.  Other housing types that could be supported besides seniors housing include single family, town/row houses, condominiums.  There is also some interest in a daycare, café, yoga studio and others.
  • The architectural style of any new development was explored and the community gave nearly unanimous support for heritage inspired building designs.  There was some support for modern Westcoast styles as well but little support for minimal urban modernism.
  • New development needs to maintain a single family friendly face to the streets around the site, including approximately two-three story street walls with setbacks similar to the homes along the streets now.  The massing should be varied and not present an large block unvaried wall to the street.
  • There is some support for buildings up to six storeys but only if the design is excellent and if view corridors to the harbour are maintained from Machleary Street.
  • Landscape design should support native species and bird/butterfly habitat.  The older existing trees and some shrubs should be preserved wherever possible.  Street furnishings including benches, garbage cans, and nice lighting would be appreciated.
  • Parking should be located on the site, underground wherever possible, as there is significant concern about negative parking impacts from new development.
  • The community is interested in any new development providing new amenities to the community including some affordable housing, a community meeting or gallery/yoga space, some public open space and public art.  The adjacent park offers playground and community garden space so these are seen as less important for the site.
  • The primary concerns residents have include the site becomes derelict and a crime magnet. New development needs to clearly respect and reflect the historic nature of the neighbourhood.  There is fear of large high rises changing the character of the area and erasing the heritage values of the site.
  • The character of the neighbourhood is seen as quiet, heritage, arts and crafts homes, mature green space and a strong sense of community.

View the entire “Report on the Outcomes of the Community Workshop on the Future of the Malaspina Gardens Site”.MalaspinaGardensFinalReportJuly4_2017

May 29, 2017

The Malaspina Gardens working group held a very successful community meeting on May 15, 2017. Approximately 50 – 60 people attended. Mark Holland (professional community planner and old city resident) and Chris Sholberg (City of Nanaimo Heritage Planner and NOCA liaison) gave very informative presentations. Participants completed a workbook which gave them the opportunity to state their preferences regarding any development possibilities for the site of the old hospital. The working group will be collating the input from the workbook in the coming weeks. Once collated, the information will be posted on our website. Stay tuned!

May 2, 2017

The Nanaimo Old City Association is holding a visioning workshop to seek community input on the Malaspina Gardens property (388 Machleary Street). Residents of the Old City and the general public are invited to attend and learn more about the potential redevelopment of the historic site.

Your input will be sought on a range of topics, including:  re-zoning, development, and heritage. The format will feature brief presentations and round table discussions. The workshop will be facilitated by Mark Holland, urban planner and resident of the Old City Neighbourhood, and Chris Sholberg, Culture and Heritage Planner for the City of Nanaimo.

Join us on Monday, May 15 from 7 pm to 9 pm at St. Peter’s Catholic Church Hall, 301 Machleary Street.  For more information contact Ian Knipe, President of NOCA at 250-753-5527, or email

April 8, 2017

A number of issues were raised at the March 5, 2017 neighbourhood meeting about the future of the Malaspina Gardens property (388 Machleary St.).  Those issues are summarized in the document below.


March 26, 2017

Over 70 people attended the Nanaimo Old City Association’s (NOCA) neighbourhood meeting on Sunday, March 5 at St. Peter’s Catholic Church Hall regarding the future of the property at 388 Machleary St., known as Malaspina Gardens Senior’s Residence.

Here’s a link to an article in the Nanaimo News Bulletin about Malaspina Gardens, published on March 23, 2017.

The meeting was planned and organized by a small ‘working group’ consisting of 2 NOCA board members (Ian Knipe, Janet Wright), 3 members of the association (Barb Coady, Paulette McCarthy, Todd Trimble), and Chris Sholberg, Planner with the City of Nanaimo’s Heritage and Culture Department.

Context:  A new facility to replace Malaspina Gardens is being built in South Nanaimo, with an expected opening in Spring 2017.  The owner and operator, Chartwell Retirement Residences, has publicized its intention to sell the property.

The meeting’s agenda featured (1) a summary of NOCA’s communication with Chartwell, (2) a presentation by Chris outlining the history and heritage value of the Old Hospital part of the property, possible redevelopment scenarios, and information about incentives offered by the City for preservation of heritage properties, and (3) a question and answer period.  Also on hand to answer pertinent questions was Rod Davidson, Manager of Bylaw Regulation and Security for the City of Nanaimo.

Now what?  Continue to follow NOCA’s website ( for periodic updates by the working group on activities and/or developments on this property.  Issues raised in the meeting will be publicized on the website as soon as they are compiled.  NOCA members who may wish to participate in the working group, or otherwise become involved, are invited to contact either Ian Knipe or Janet Wright

MalaspinaMtg2Mar_2017 MalaspinaMtgMar_2017

February 21, 2017

Press Release for Immediate Release

The Nanaimo Old City Association will be holding an information meeting to discuss the future of Malaspina Gardens property located at 388 Machleary Street in Nanaimo.

This significant one hundred and thirty-eight year old property was once the home of the Nanaimo General Hospital and Malaspina College. The historical three acre property is on the City of Nanaimo Heritage Register but now the future of the property is uncertain. The neighbourhood and general public are invited to attend and learn more about the fate of this property and historic building.

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