Public Safety in the Old City – Who to Call

The City of Nanaimo publishes a brochure on Who To Call in the Old City. The most recent version is November 2022 and can be viewed here.

Community Safety Officers (City of Nanaimo)

Community Safety Officers focus on providing municipal supports and responses to the community and vulnerable citizens on issues including public disorder, homelessness, addictions and mental health challenges. Community Safety Officers (CSOs) conduct highly visible day and nighttime patrols, including bike patrols, throughout the community with emphasis in the downtown area, involving extensive contact and liaison with the business community, first responders, public safety, service organizations and unsheltered citizens. There are 11 officers who work in teams of 2 or 3 per shift. They work 7 days a week (NOT statutory holidays), 7 am to 10 pm.

CSOs engage with vulnerable citizens including people experiencing homelessness, addiction and mental health concerns to assist in the coordination of appropriate social, health and enforcement responses.
CSOs address contraventions of bylaws, incidents of public disorder and assist people in need, with an emphasis on voluntary compliance strategies, including referrals to services, mediation, public education, warnings, restorative justice and alternate dispute resolution.

Bylaw, Regulation & Community Safety (City of Nanaimo)

To Report (Downtown Core):

  • Downtown parking issues
  • Aggressive panhandling downtown
  • Encampment activity downtown
  • Safety matters on downtown public property
  • Downtown Bylaw matters (noise, unsightly, nuisance activities)
  • Connecting individuals in need to services

Monday to Friday (8:00 am to 4:30 pm)
Call 250-755-4422
Evenings and weekends
Call 250-758-5222 

To Report (Outside Downtown Core Bylaw Infractions):

  • Parking
  • Traffic
  • Noise
  • Encampment Activity
  • Unsightly Properties
  • Nuisance Properties

Monday to Friday (8:00 am to 4:30 pm)
Call 250-755-4422
Evenings and weekends:
Call 250-758-5222 

Public Works

To Report:

  • Discarded Needles on Public Property and for information on the proper disposal of discarded needles on private property
  • Garbage or Litter on City Property
  • Overflowing City Garbage Bins
  • Other After Hour City Matters

Please call or email:
24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Nanaimo Fire Rescue

To Report:

  • Burning Complaints
  • Burning Permits
  • Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detector Information
  • General Fire Safety Information

Please call:
24 hours a day, 7 days a week

RCMP: How to Report Crime

There are now multiple ways to report:

  • Suspicious or Illegal Activity
  • Crime after it has occurred
  • Lost, Stolen or Found Items
  • Security Matters

To learn more about reporting options, please visit the RCMP’s Online Reporting Tool page or their homepage

Please call:
Non-Emergency Assistance: 250-754-2345 – 24 Hours

The Vancouver Island Crisis Line

24-hour Crisis Line Service


Island Health

Nanaimo Mental Health & Substance Use

COR (Community Outreach Response):

  • Mobile Crisis Response via Crisis Line – 1-888-494-3888
  • Homelessness Outreach Response via Team Cell 250-741-7645

Information on Safe Handling for Needles

Street Reach (Canadian Mental Health Association Mid-Island) – 250-716-8823

Poison Control 1-800-567-8911

Helping our unsheltered neighbours

Are you interested in joining our “unsheltered neighbours working group?”

A 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

The importance of sheltering people from the cold and who are in need is seen and felt, nonetheless the crime and disruption into the neighbourhood needs to be discussed with the service providers and the city. 

NOCA has established a working group to focus on the unsheltered members of our neighbourhood. The group is chaired by long-time old city resident Doug Creba, and reports to the NOCA Board. There are currently five NOCA members on the working group. If you are interested in joining, please let us know.

Who are we? – A working group reporting to the NOCA Board – We are focused on unsheltered members of our community who are having a negative impact on our community and can often be disruptive.

Who can participate? – All residents of the old city are welcome to participate. Membership in NOCA (or not) is not a limiting factor to participation. Please share this invitation with all your neighbours so they have the option to be involved.

People taking a lead 

1. Are members of NOCA

2. Report back to NOCA 

3. Require NOCA approval for any actions taken

MANDATE – We are a working committee of NOCA and we only work within the old city boundaries

CHAIR — Doug Creba

SCOPEWe are separate from the group working with the overnight shelter operators at St. Peter’s Catholic Church. here may be overlaps in our work but we can manage those as they become apparent. We see our mandate as addressing issues related to and arising from the unsheltered community within our area. We are not mandated to deal with zoning, parking or major crime etc.

CARING and RESPECT– One guiding principle is that we must always work in a respectful manner; respect for all individuals involved or impacted. 

PURPOSE – Identify issues in the neighbourhood as they arise; share information: 

1. through NOCA social media

2. word of mouth

3. contact with City

4. contact with Police

Organize support and report to

1. City 

2. MLA’s and Premier

3. Police

4. Organizers for support for the homeless like the Nanaimo Family Life Association which operates the winter overnight shelter at St Peter’s Catholic Church.

COMMUNITY – Our interaction may involve but is not limited to :

* St Peter’s shelter — staff and clients (during shelter operation – December 1 to March 31
* Nanaimo Family Life Association
* Connective (formerly John Howard Society)
* Risebridge
* Safe Injection site on Dunsmuir Street
* Block Watch
* Pauline Haraar school
* City of Nanaimo, Community Safety Officers and other relevant departments
* BC Housing

Concerns around current supports for the homeless

1. Risebridge Warming Centre – needs longer hours 

2. St. Peters winter shelter – Security Issues with security guards not always showing up and not having authority to move people on.

3. Safe Injection Site at Albert and Dunsmuir Streets uses security and staff to reduce impact

ISSUES – The following information is just a starting point and more issues may arise in the future.

Hot spots– places where our attention is drawn due to activity in that place

* Pawson Park
* St Peter’s parking lot
* All along the train track Albert, Fitzwilliam behind Old City Panache and fire department offices
* Franklyn Street park at Milton Street
* Old Hospital site (388 Machleary Street)
* Wellesley Street – Delicados Restaurant
* TELUS building – Fitzwilliam Street at Wallace Street
* Railways
* Laneways 

Areas close by that may result in overlap (outside NOCA boundary but the issues do not respect boundaries) 

* Risebridge on Prideaux Street.
* Cat Stream at Third Street
* downtown

BEHAVIOURS that are not welcome

* theft, B&E etc.
* open drug use
* loud behaviour all times of day 
* littering – garbage and sharps
* setting fires
* vandalism (rocks through windows) 
* graffiti 

ACTIONS, – Techniques and methods for response to issues

1. Block Watch 

2. Good Neighbour Agreements

3. Vacant Property Act (Fire and police can come in without a warrant; used in Harewood to shut down crack houses. Bylaw officers do have power if they are ordered to use it. This kind of legislation would provide permitting and monitoring

4. Shelter Bylaws – To set rules for operation

5. Resiliency Action Teams needed – Quick response to problems. Harewood has a person who cleans up graffiti and a nuisance property person

6. Reporting

7. Community Patrol 

8. Communication with Support Groups for Homeless

9. Passive Intervention 

10. Regular meetings of neighbourhood committee

11. Regular clean up of streets, litter and more including SHARPS

If you’d like to be part of the solution and care about your neighbourhood, please get in touch with us at

From your unsheltered neighbours working group