Basically, this is Downtown Nanaimo. As the name implies, it is the oldest part of the City, and has architecture surviving from the late 1800’s. There are post war homes here as well as condos and apartments. You can find a very modest dwelling, or a beautiful luxury condo complete with a panoramic view.
The Old City Quarter is where you will find boutique shops, and a diverse assortment of restaurants. This is also the nightlife district, and a hub for art and music. The Port Theater, a landmark on Nanaimo’s waterfront offers live performances, and community events. The seawall along the Nanaimo Harbour and Maffeo Sutton Park offers some of the most interesting walks to be found. Every evening with good weather brings out street side musicians.
The small BC Ferries terminal is right downtown, and offers service to Gabriola Island. Gabriola is known for its arts and culture, and residents from the smaller islands contribute to the vibrancy and diversity Nanaimo is known for. The inner harbor has walk-on ferries that will take you to New Castle Island, Protection Island, or the iconic Dingy Dock Pub. There is also a seaplane terminal offering flights direct to downtown Vancouver, the Vancouver International Airport, Sechelt, and destinations further north.
The Old City area has good transit, and taxi service, and is also very walkable. It’s one of the few areas where you can get by easily without a car. The local elementary schools are Fairview and École Pauline Haarer with John Barsby and Nanaimo District Secondary for high school options. Vancouver Island University is nearby, and the influx of international students have driven increasing demand for living in the downtown core.
Historically, Nanaimo’s homeless problem has centered in the Old City, and with it, the poverty related issues Nanaimo has struggled with. Recently, there has been some gentrification. People are taking advantage of the affordable real estate by purchasing character homes, fixing them up, and increasing the desirability of the area. In addition, the city planning department have made improving the area a priority to encourage new commercial development and civic buildings. Discussions for new high-rise buildings, and development have been met with mixed emotion. Some want to see Nanaimo move forward and attract investment while others are concerned about the city staying true to its roots.
Whether you are looking for culture or just convenience, the Old City may be what you are looking for. It is a great place to enter into the housing market, and may be a good opportunity to get in on the ground floor in up-and-coming downtown Nanaimo.