VIU students help CNA envision progress

I have been recently corresponding with Dr. Pamela Shaw from Vancouver Island University about how she and her urban planning students could help the Campbellton neighbourhood in months ahead.

Pam and her students originally were brought to the Campbellton neighborhood in 2013 through Ross Blackwell, a former Urban Planner for Campbell River, and they proved to be most helpful to the cause of renewing the historic but aging area along the river.

The Neighborhood Association's members in 2012 had completed an inventory of the community's needs then in 2013 Pam brought her entire urban geography class from Nanaimo and set them on a project to create an urban plan for Campbellton and the excellent report they produced can still be viewed on our CNA website ( It contains over 70 different ideas for “Place Making” in this community.

When we first started the Association in 2011 we had ideas and vision but no direction. However the consultants we have engaged have focused in on objectives that have given us goals for that vision, many of which have already been acted on, such as improved sidewalks and pedestrian crossings and the expected arrival soon of improved lighting.

One of the key ideas urged by the students was the development of a community garden and so now in the midst of residences and industrial businesses there is one on 15th Avenue near Petersen Road.

Those many projects in the original VIU plan are now being complemented by significant follow-up. For example, VIU Masters student Keltie Chamberlain last year completed a study on improving Hwy 19A through the commercial core of Campbellton and on improving public access to the Campbell River waterfront (a report on which also is viewable on the website).

As a consequence of that work City Council approved spending $16,000 for a professional feasibility study for viewing platforms and other improvements needed along the Campbell River and the Myrt THompson Trail, a preliminary version of which recently was presented at a Public Open House; the final version is expected to be presented to City Council in November.

The concept is:

  1. Improve access and visibility to the River in Campbellton to get more local and tourist users.
  2. More users will entice more businesses to locate nearby and enhance those currently here.
  3. More use will encourage improvements to Hwy 19A, the main thoroughfare
  4. Beautification will encourage more residents to buy locally.

Not bad eh! A Win-Win for everyone.

It may be partly because of the success that Dr. Shaw has had with her class in Campbellton that the VIU has now created a Masters in Urban Planning Program, based in Nanaimo.

Dr. Shaw's latest crop of post-graduate students will soon be returning to Campbellton to once again delve more deeply into the various projects that have already been identified and new ones coming along, such as the CNA's current proposal for the development of an entrance feature at 14th Avenue on a vacant parcel of land between the north and southbound lanes of the Island Highway, for which the CNA recently made a presentation to City Council meeting as Committee of the Whole.

What a great resource the VIU students have been! And kudos to City Council for availing ourselves of it.