by Kelly Whiteside
Block Builders Nanaimo helped give the public a look at the potential that Nicol St. has today at their one-day event called My Street. Currently, Nicol St. is simply a highway built to move large amounts of traffic in and out of Nanaimo. However, the South End Neighbourhood Plan envisions a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape, and Block Builders Nanaimo wanted to preview this.
For this event, one lane each way on the four-lane highway was closed to allow parking along the street, and temporary crosswalks were created.
Over 20 businesses supported this event by opening their doors or creating pop-up shops along the street. The event was a great success, and completely transformed the highway into a more inviting area. Hundreds of people walked up and down the road to check out existing businesses and spaces they may have never been to before, as well as the temporary shops. There were also food trucks, info booths, children’s activities, live performances, and an art gallery. For once, Nicol St. bustled with activity. Attendees say it was refreshing to walk through the neighbourhood and see so many happy, friendly people and thriving businesses. Business owners were surprised at how much traffic the event drew despite the windy weather. Overall, people were pleased with the outcome of the event.
There was also a chance to tell the City and the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association what you want to see on Nicol St. in the future. Suggestions included banners, public spaces, more cafes and parks, crosswalks, garbage cans, and bike lanes. Nanaimo Culture and Heritage used this opportunity to ask for input as well.