Rhododendrons at Bowen Park, Nanaimo. Photo: Debbie Narver
Rotary Club of Nanaimo
Rotary Clubs in Nanaimo Promotion
The first Rotary Clubs in Nanaimo spotlight was published in the Nanaimo News Bulletin on Wednesday, May 26! There will be a Rotary feature once a month for six months to highlight the great work and activities being undertaken by our local clubs. A big thank you to the sponsoring businesses for supporting the feature!
Member Spotlight: Jason Bradley

In August 2017, Jason's daughter went on a Rotary youth exchange to Norway and they took in a student from Hungary. In the first month, Jason met four other exchange students and started taking them on adventures. By November all of the exchange students on Vancouver Island were sleeping over at their house for a trip to Vancouver to see a Canucks game!

Jason joined Rotary in December 2017, became a Youth Exchange officer in January 2018 and joined the District Youth Exchange Committee in March 2018. "I have absolutely fallen in love with this life-changing program," said Jason.

He is currently the Country Officer Northern Europe (Denmark, Finland, Netherlands. Norway, Sweden), District 5020 Trip Coordinator and the Nanaimo 5 Club Youth Exchange Chair.

Virtual Journey Update
Teams A and B have reached Newfoundland! Team C has reached Nova Scotia, Team D has reached our nation's capital, Ottawa and Team L continues to make progress and is close to the Manitoba border. Despite walking, running, hiking, cycling and more for almost two months, the fun continues, the energy remains high and the mileage continues to add up!
Collectively, the teams have traveled an astounding 28,030 km - that's approximately 3.5 times our cross Canada journey distance! Well done everyone.
Photos top to bottom: Tracy Makarenko, Dawn Hankins and Rebecca Taylor on Westwood Lake trails; Debbie Narver at the Kinsol Trestle; and Bob Wilson (with photographer Doug Cowling) at Arrowsmith Brewing Company after a ride in the Parksville/Errington area.
Club Featured in District Magazine
The latest Rotary District 5020 magazine is out! Read about many of the great things going on with clubs across our District, including two stories about our club - our virtual journey across Canada and our book sale! Thank you to Rebecca Taylor and Denise Wittkofski for contributing the stories. 
Nanaimo Daybreak Announcement
This year, Rotary Club of Nanaimo Daybreak is celebrating its 25 years of service in Nanaimo with their 25-for-25 project! They are replicating their first major fundraiser of 25 years ago - the Parkway Challenge - with a virtual challenge that will take participants on a 2,500 km virtual tour of Vancouver Island from May 25 to June 25. They invite everyone to walk, run or cycle 25 km during that time period. They are also supporting 25 of our local community organizations both by encouraging donations from participants and with a contribution of $1,000 to each organization from their club. To learn more, visit www.daybreakrotary.ca.
Meeting Notes May 21, 2021
Past President Janeane Coutu opened the meeting, as chair, with the explanation that President Bob has taken the opportunity to go to sea in his boat for the long weekend for a much-deserved holiday.
Janeane called on President-Elect Laurie Bienert to share her screen for O’ Canada. This rendition featured Carly Rae Jepson of Mission, B.C. when she sang O’ Canada to open the NBA All Star Game in 2019.
Wendy Pratt shared Inspiration, stating that she has a whole pack of virtue cards. She picked one and her Inspiration focused on unity. Unity is a virtue and gives us great strength. It is inclusiveness, commonality, connectivity and allows us to seek peace and value every person. The unity affirmation is ‘I am thankful for the gift of unity; it makes me an instrument of peace’. Wendy thinks that unity is reflective of what Rotary is all about.


On behalf of President Bob, Janeane announced that the District Conference will be virtual again this year. It will be held by Zoom on Friday, June 4 from 6 - 9 p.m. with cocktails starting at 5:30 p.m. There will be one keynote speaker from Vancouver Island who will remain anonymous until the event.
Norm Myden made an announcement on behalf of the Mid-Island World Community Service group. For the newer members, he stated that the group is made up of 24 Rotary clubs which are situated from the Malahat to Port Hardy. The group meets six times a year and is currently chaired by Ken Hammer who is the Assistant Governor-Elect for 2021 and in attendance at our meeting today. Don Lutz, the long-time treasurer of the Mid-Island group, wants to retire and Norm is looking for his replacement. If you are interested, please contact Norm.
Joyce Smith stated that she and Ron had been camping and they had a great time. Joyce provided an update on the Virtual Tour. Team ‘A’, on the ferry from PEI to NS, in the lead with team ‘B’ on the Confederation bridge relatively close behind. Team ‘C’ is in Fredericton, NB, team ‘D’ is in Sault Ste Marie and Team ‘L’ has made it to Regina. Joyce said that the T-shirts should arrive soon. Joyce stated that Daybreak, team ‘D’ is competing in the Virtual Tour and that they are launching their very own virtual tour around VI. Teams will have to complete 25 kms in a month and Joyce encouraged everyone to support Daybreak. Janeane thanked everyone who is involved in keeping the club updated with the Tour progress.
On behalf of Dawn Hankins, Janeane stated that everyone who participated in the virtual Wine Tasting had a good time. The presenter was great and Janeane is looking forward to the time when we can go to visit the winery in person.
Assistant Governor-Elect Ken Hammer was happy to attend the meeting. Ken announced that Daybreak is celebrating their 25th anniversary this year. Daybreak was sponsored by Nanaimo North and Lantzville clubs. Nanaimo North was sponsored by this Rotary club and that makes it a grandparent club to Daybreak. To celebrate their 25th and one of the club’s first fundraisers, they’ve created the ‘25 for 25’ challenge; the ‘Parkway Challenge,’ a walk, run, cycle event along the new Parkway Trail.
Twenty-five community organizations highlighted on the club website will each receive a $1,000 donation from the Daybreak club. They hope that each organization will participate by creating their own fundraiser within the ‘25 for 25.’ To participate, go to the Daybreak website, it costs $25 to register. You can join any one of the 25 organizations you might like to support; such as Literacy Central VI.
Ken answered the following question; the challenge goes from May 25 to June 25. Rod Mont, the first president of Daybreak, will be the MC for the Challenge launch from Maffeo-Sutton park. Dave Hammond suggested they use the Rotary Centennial Park for their launch.
Doug Cowling gave a two week notice for a motion from the community grants committee to donate $2,000 to the Child Development Centre for their Care Program – Wish List.


Mila Skeeles introduced our speaker, Andrea Blakeman, CEO of the Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society. Mila said that she and Brad have served on the Society’s board for several years and she is excited to have Andrea update everyone on the amazing projects underway.
Andrea greeted old and new friends prior to starting her talk. The Society was incorporated in 1990 and their first project was in 1996, a townhouse development in south Nanaimo on Pine Street. The Society has grown through both construction and acquisitions and today it has 520 units under management and 700 tenants.
Its newest project, a 159-unit seniors housing, is well on its way to completion by Buttertubs Marsh. They will add two more projects in the next two years that they know of. The Society houses almost exclusively people who are independent. They have three buildings that they own and operate that have support services that are managed by either the VI Mental Health Society or the Haven Society. These societies work exclusively with the tenants. They have two other buildings totaling 44 units that support people with permanent disabilities; day-to-day management is contracted out through the VI Health Authority. There are no names on the buildings which allows them to blend in with the community.
The Society is a non-profit charity and they walk a very fine financial line. Base rental shelter rates start at $375 and are stepped up, accordingly, based on a moderate income of $117,000. Most families have an income per annum in the $50,000 to $70,000 range. Tenants provide their income tax information and 30% of the gross family income goes to rent. As incomes change, the tenant goes through a very prescribed process set by BC Housing to change their rent. The rent can be adjusted to suit each situation.
Each applicant applies and is vetted through BC Housing. All of the information needed is collected by BC Housing. They are triaged to determine how high their need is. Appropriate tenants are placed in appropriate housing. Andrea concluded her presentation and Janeane opened up the floor to questions.
Wendy Pratt stated that affordable housing is a huge issue and wondered how long the waitlist was. Andrea stated that the Society does not house people off the street. Subsidized housing goes through BC Housing and they usually interview 2 to 3 applicants for one unit. Non-subsidized housing can have a waiting list in the thousands in the province.
Kathy Smith wondered what percentage of seniors, those with mental disabilities, and families made up the total in housing and does the Society have to follow the BC Residential Tenancy Act. Andrea replied that they use a standard RT agreement. She said that there are approximately 850 not-for-profit housing societies in the province and they have collaborated with some of them on the issue of a problem tenant. Urgent evictions can be done in a week, but regular evictions can take up to 3 to 4 months after 6 to 8 months of issues. Within their Society, seniors make up approximately 70% of the total. COVID has removed the support system for many. About 10% have known mental illness, it can be an invisible illness.
David Woodward wondered if one could rent to own, what the waitlist time here is and do they have a website. Andrea replied that their units are rental only, there are about 200 to 300 on the waiting list and they do have a website that is dated and needs work.
Doug Cowling wondered if the Society provides assistance to refugees and where do they get their land from or does it just stay with the City of Nanaimo or the province. Andrea replied that they do not bring anyone into the country, they must be landed immigrants. Currently, they do have two Syrian families and some others who qualified. For the most part, they acquired their properties by acquisition and like all properties, they have to be maintained and upgraded. In 2014 they acquired the property beside Buttertubs Marsh (8 ½ acres) which has 82 patio homes on it that house seniors. It is currently being redeveloped as described earlier.
Mila Skeeles wondered about the growth of the Society over the last few years and the challenges they faced. Andrea said that they needed to continue to grow because they need ‘economy of scale’ to survive because their Society does not generate money like a for-profit business. When they have the land or are in partnership with a developer who has land available, they wait for an RFP from BC Housing. Just such an RFP was recently put out by the BC Housing Community Housing Fund, and they are expecting to be awarded two projects, one in Parksville (87 units) and one on Hammond Bay Rd (53 units) near the Brickyard Clinic.
Dave Hammond wondered if they have looked at acquiring existing buildings. Andrea replied that generally, it is BC Housing purchasing a building for a specific group; such as the hotels in Victoria. Andrea said that they like to acquire purpose-built housing. They did this about two and a half years ago when they took over the Mt. Benson Seniors Society. They acquired seven buildings and one new project. With the many maintenance issues on the seven existing buildings, they are just getting by with these properties. They like to have new construction projects.
Lucy Gosselin shared that she sat on the board of BC Housing in the past and stated that the Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society was very well respected.
John Shillabeer thanked the speaker and said that he had learned a lot from Andrea’s talk. He is ‘taking his hat off’ to commend the massive contribution by the Society to providing affordable housing in Nanaimo and Area.


Dave Hammond, as SAA, opened by commenting that Janeane has done a stellar job as chair of the meeting. Dave thanked Mila for serving on the NAHS board. Dave said that a winery event has been talked about and President Bob has volunteered to teach everyone how to ‘stomp grapes.’
Dave stated that if the distances covered by each team are added together, we have been to Newfoundland and back, and back to Newfoundland and we are 20% on our way back for a second time. The group averages about 500 km per day.

Happy Bucks  

Wendy Pratt was happy that 46 years ago today, May 21, she gave birth to a son who is now 46 years old and is a firefighter up in the Northwest Territories.
Kathy Smith was happy that she and Allan became grandparents yesterday, a baby boy named Lincoln, and her daughter was just about to get occupancy to her new house. Kathy also encouraged members of our Rotary club to join the Nanaimo Broom Busters group. Kathy has been a member for two years, it costs nothing, and you only have to commit to volunteering two hours per year.
Janeane said her son Matt and two friends have started a paddle-board service at Departure Bay beach. They are also in the process of trying to get permission from the City to operate at Westwood lake. They have 8 to 10 boards and provide rentals and hands-on instruction.
Doug Cowling had five happy bucks to celebrate his bike ride with Bob Wilson with a stop at the Mount Arrowsmith Brewing Co. in Parksville. Doug promoted a hiking group website called Hiking Enthusiasts of Vancouver Island if anyone is looking for places to go. Doug also promoted a group hike in the future.

Birthdays & Anniversaries

Kari Bradley, wife of Jason, is celebrating a birthday today.
June and Frank Shoemaker are celebrating their 44th wedding anniversary, Mila and Brad their 33rd, and Debbie and Doug Narver their 38th.
Leslie Sundby is celebrating her 1st anniversary as a club member, and Ross White is celebrating 34 years.
Janeane stated that next week’s meeting will feature our very own Keith McFarlane who will walk us through 39 years of being a member of this club. Janeane thanked our speaker Andrea Blakeman for her presentation. Janeane and Andrea were figure skating partners decades ago.
Janeane thanked all who participated and closed the meeting with a toast to Rotary.
Rotary Club Links
There are a number of ways to keep up to date with all the happenings within our Rotary Club. Click on the following links to view photo albums, read about some of our latest projects and to connect socially through Facebook and Instagram! And remember that ClubRunner is also a great resource for members to view a wide variety of club information.
If you have Rotary Club news, photos or videos to share, please email the details to Rebecca Taylor and Denise Wittkofski so they can share through our multiple online channels.
Upcoming Speakers
May 28, 2021
The Club's Transformation in 39 Years
Jun 04, 2021
Nanaimo Foundation and how Covid has shifted the needs in our community
Jun 11, 2021
What Happening at the Port Theatre
View entire list
Meeting's Responsibilities
May 28, 2021
Makarenko, Tracy
Sergeant at Arms
Hammond, Dave
Introduce Speaker
White, Ross
Thank Speaker
Gosselin, Yvan
Meeting Notes
Currie, Jane
June 4, 2021
Wittkofski, Denise
Sergeant at Arms
Hammond, Dave
Introduce Speaker
Connolly, Ken
Thank Speaker
Forghani Targhi, Behzad
Meeting Notes
Anderson, Douglas
June 11, 2021
Woodward, David
Sergeant at Arms
Hammond, Dave
Introduce Speaker
Pratt, Wendy
Thank Speaker
Skeeles, Mila
Meeting Notes
Shillabeer, John
Russell Hampton
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