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Why You Would Want To Live in the Old City

If you are looking to immerse yourself in the heart of the community you will want to consider the Old City.  Since being revitalized over the last few years the sense of community and pride felt here amongst both residents and business owners alike is evident.  Many retirees and working professionals choose to call the condos around the Nanaimo Harbour home enjoying the close proximity to local businesses, boutique-style shops, entertainment, coffee shops, and restaurants.


There is one elementary school in the Old City - Ecole Pauline Haarer, however, English speaking K - Grade 7 students enroll in either Fairview Elementary in the University District or Bayview Elementary in South Nanaimo depending on their Old City address.

For Grade 8 -12, French immersion students in the Old City area continue their studies at the Nanaimo District Secondary School in the University District along with students from Fairview Elementary, while Bayview students would go to John Barsby Secondary School located in South Nanaimo.


There are numerous shopping options spread throughout the streets of the vibrant Old City while the Old City Quarter is home to a blend of specialty shops and boutiques.  The Port Place Mall and neighbouring retail spaces are also located in the Old City and provide options for groceries, pharmaceuticals & medical services, a dollar store, and several restaurants. 


Recreational Opportunities

The Old City offers countless recreational opportunities from walking through the Old City Quarter and the downtown streets to enjoying the Harbourfront and the Harbour Front Walkway, an approximately 4 km long ocean sidewalk spanning from Brechin Hill to the inner harbour this area can be enjoyed year-round with community art pieces on display, artisans selling their wares and performances from street entertainers along the way.   The Maffeo Sutton Park in the heart of the area is the venue for many community celebrations throughout the year, offering swimming and a sandy beach around a man-made lake, playground facilities, walkways, picnic spots, and a covered stage there is also a crab fishing dock where if you’re lucky you’ll spot seals and access to the Newcastle Island Provincial Park via the ferry that sails from this area.  There are also a number of neighbourhood parks, sports fields, venues and clubs for other sports,  and community garden beds throughout the area. 


The heart of Nanaimo, the Old City offers a host of recreational and entertainment options all easily accessible on foot or by vehicle with different parking options available: The Vancouver Island Conference Centre is in the area, as is the Harbourfront branch of the library which includes the Creativity Commons - a place for learning and executing creative endeavors; the Casino Nanaimo invites you to experience the thrill and excitement it offers from its Old City location, while the Breakout Nanaimo Escape Room brings a whole new level of excitement into the entertainment mix for those looking for a live game room experience.  The Port Theatre has excellent acoustics and offers year-round cultural entertainment from concerts and plays, to comedy shows and family events while for quality live music events in a less formal environment, the local pubs and clubs are just a stone's throw away. The community's past and heritage is brought to life through the Nanaimo Museum and the Nanaimo Bastion with a daily cannon firing at noon during the summer while the Nanaimo Art Gallery celebrates and showcases current visual arts in an environment that fosters education, and encourages active public involvement. For community and marine events and festivals, the Maffeo Sutton Park is an entertainment hot spot and the true hub of the area catering to the entertainment of people of all ages.


It goes without saying that as the hub of Nanaimo, the Old City is host to an abundance of culinary delights to satisfy all palettes.  Whether you are looking for a coffee and a pastry or a light snack, fast food, a family-style restaurant, pub fare or fine dining, the Old City caters to all tastes, budgets, and international food cravings from Mexican to French and Japanese to Indian and everything in between.  Some favourites for locals and visitors alike are Mon Petit Choux and a Wee Cupcakery; Gina’s Mexican Cafe, Asteras, and the Nest Bistro; on the Harbourfront - the Lighthouse Bistro & Pub, Trollers Fish & Chips, and Penny’s Palapa, and for those looking for a more unique experience, the Dinghy Dock Marine Pub & Restaurant on Protection Island is Canada’s only registered floating pub where you can dock your own boat or catch the ferry that sails to and from the harbour every hour.


The Maffeo Sutton Park is considered Nanaimo’s “signature park” and is located in the heart of the harbour front area.  A year-round destination and the location of choice for countless community celebrations, the park has a small man-made lake connected to the ocean at the highest tides, known as Swy-a-Lana Lagoon,  offering a sandy beach area and warmer water for swimming.  In this same spot is a children’s playground, a grassy area for community activities, a bandstand for entertainers, a crab fishing dock, and access to the Newcastle Island Provincial Park via a ferry that sails from this area.   There are other community parks throughout the area such as the Comox Park Gyro, one of Nanaimo’s oldest parks, established in 1895 and housing a scout hut dating from 1930 along with a play area, and playfield.