A 15-minute Nanaimo?

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Issue Date
2023-11
Authors
Turner, Robert
Feser, Alisha
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Abstract
We’re standing in the exact same spot. But you’re in a 15-minute city and I’m not. Why? We examine the City of Nanaimo, British Columbia, to find (overlapping amenity isochrone) zones where residents can live and have 15-minute walking access to “essential” (grocery, pharmacy) and “basic quality of life” amenities (recreational space, library, museum/gallery/theater/cinema, restaurant/pub, and cafe/coffee), but also daycares, public schools, foodbanks, and walk-in clinics. Depending on one’s needs, there are different 15-minute walking zones within the City. As one’s needs increase, fewer and smaller residential zones continue to qualify as 15-minute walkable. Of all the city neighbourhoods, downtown and downtown-adjacent Nanaimo offer the most extensive 15-minute walkability for residents, even residents with the most extensive needs. Initial investigation suggests that these zones offer affordable shelter for most of the top three income quintiles, but are on average unaffordable for those in the two lower income quintiles. Amenity overlap is greatest in residentially dense areas, and residential density provides more residents with walkability to existing amenities (and amenity owners with a proximate consumer base). As a result, A) zoning to permit density-increasing developments around amenity concentrations and, conversely, amenity development in areas of greater residential density (as well as pedestrian-friendly infrastructural improvements) – or B) combined amenity-residential density zoning in areas lacking both – would improve 15-minute walkability in the City of Nanaimo.
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