.: Vision 2020 rally boosts city's future :

Vision 2020 rally boosts city's future
Grab Nanaimo's potential, speakers say
By Derek Spalding, Daily News October 6, 2011

Nanaimo residents have to take charge of their city and build for themselves the type of community they want to have in five, 10, 20 or 50 years. That was the message delivered from last night's vision rally organized by a few keen business leaders.

Local government guru and political veteran Mike Harcourt was joined by the mayor of Whistler, Ken Malamed, in a united display of what communities have done when they outline ambitious goals that make them leaders in the country and around the world.

The examples were easy to come by. Vancouver's green city initiative, Whistler's Vision 2020 plan and Victoria's Dockside Green community were just a few examples of how to use creative vision that will attract the best minds and investors. Harcourt and Malamed demonstrated that current design plans and traditional systems of growth are older ways of thinking.

Nanaimo has taken steps toward building a better community, but it can do better, according to these to inspirational speakers.

"Do you want to maintain the status quo and be a loser or do you want to build a smart city?" was one of the questions posed by Harcourt.

Malamed impressed the crowd as he expertly outlined how his city went through a long planning process that eventually put Whistler in a position to create its own vision. Economic success does not have to mean growth as people typically see it, he explained. Whistler has a freeze on residential growth because that's what that community wanted.

He doesn't talk about how long the planning for Whistler's plan took because "it was too long" in his opinion, but because residents were trailblazers there are now strategies that can help communities reach their goals much more efficiently.

His community set out to design an environmental sustainability plan, but that quickly changed. Once residents came together, they set out to create an integrated community sustainability plan. The result was a multifaceted 50-year plan with a strategy broken down into 17 task forces and 140 volunteers trained in each of those specialized areas.

Harcourt talked about the entrepreneurial opportunities that come from a city with a creative vision.

If a community is serious about improving energy efficiency and reducing waste than such goals can be achieved through planning. The best urban designers will gladly come to an oceanside community like Nanaimo, if it is serious about building a city that stands out above the rest, he explained.

The key to its success in Whistler was including everyone. Leaders in the community mobilized to ask as many people as possible to form what Malamed calls a "traveling road show," which reached out to invite "everyone" to contribute to the planning.

"We went out of our way to invite everyone," he said.

The Vision 2020 plan was the first landmark of the long-term strategy and its goal is to make Whistler the greatest mountain resort in North America, an achievement that the community has achieved, according to Malamed.

DSpalding@nanaimodailynews.com 250-729-4231

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