City Council to receive report from NOCA

The NOCA Board recently learned that Chartwell (the owner of the former Malaspina Gardens site on Machleary Street) has applied to the City of Nanaimo for a demolition permit.  City Council will consider the application at its meeting on Monday, August 14, 2017.   NOCA has written a letter to Council (see link below) and also sent our “Report on the Outcomes of the Community Workshop on the Future of the Malaspina Gardens Site to City Council.

NOCA letter to City Council – August 10, 2017 – LetterCouncilMalaspinaAug_2017

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Community comments on future of Malaspina Gardens site

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

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Pawson Park’s Community Gardens …. A Hidden Treasure in the Old City!


Pawson Park’s Community Gardens

Perhaps the best kept secret in our Old City neighbourhood is the community garden at Pawson Park, on the corner of Franklyn and Machleary Streets.   In 2011, the city spearheaded a rejuvenation of Pawson Park in consultation with interested residents, and from that process a park committee was formed, the playground, fields and washrooms revamped, and the community gardens built.  As a result, Pawson Park is being revitalized as a well-used community resource – a common space for neighbourhood families.

The community garden within Pawson Park supports this vision of neighbours meeting neighbours. Currently, the garden consists of 6 beds devoted to growing edibles.  The three upper (waist height) beds can be cared for and enjoyed by anyone in the community, as indicated on the signs attached to the sides of each bed.  The three lower (ground level) beds are divided into 6 plots for yearly rental, plus a $5.00 deposit. Rent is a mere $5.00 for a calendar year of May 1 to April 30.  The only stipulation (besides growing only edibles) is that, if fertilizer is used, it must be organic.  Sign me up!!

Jen Skogland is the energetic, enthusiastic Garden Coordinator and an all-around promoter of Pawson Park. She says, “There is always a need for donations in kind or money.”  Examples of in kind donations include weeding and watering, equipment such as hoses and spray nozzles, and seasonal donations such as soil, strawberries, other seedlings and composted manure in Spring, and hay/grass in the Fall.

For inquiries or to donate, Jen can be contacted by email at

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Update on old hospital property (Malaspina Gardens)

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!

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Visioning Workshop, Monday, May 15

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

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Issues raised at public meeting about Malaspina Gardens property

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.


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Successful Neighbourhood Meeting Held about the Malaspina Gardens Property

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

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Future of Malaspina Gardens Discussion

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.

The information meeting will be held from 1pm to 3pm at St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 301 Fitzwilliam Street, Sunday March 5th. For more information contact Ian Knipe 250-753-5527, President of NOCA or email Light refreshments will be served.

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Buy your NOCA membership

Thank you to the over 30 people who attended our AGM on October 17, 2016.  We recruited four new Board members. Your community association is alive and well!  It’s not too late to buy a yearly membership to show your support.  Just download our  membership-application



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Join our Board of Directors!

Mark your calendar for our Annual General Meeting on Monday, October 17, 2016. We are always looking for new Board members.  Why not consider volunteering?  You must live within NOCA’s boundaries and be a paid up member of the association.   We currently have seven people on our Board and can have up to nine.  Make a difference in your community and meet some pretty nice people!

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