Downtown Launches Christmas Collaboration

Share the spirit this year in the heart of the Harbour City with Downtown Nanaimo and the Old City Quarter’s holiday celebrations with the Santa Fly-in, Gingerbread Village, Indigenous storytellers, choirs, free photos with Santa, late night shopping, and much more under the brand of “Winterfest”. 

The neighbourhoods of downtown are coming together to attract families to a total downtown shopping, dining, and relaxation experience. Streets and stores will be decorated for the season as part of this free event providing a place where families can create some fun memories while supporting local businesses. 

Shoppers are invited to participate in this year’s window display contest from November 21st until December 17thwhere they can vote online for their favourite shop’s seasonal decor. Cash prizes will be awarded to a lucky shopper who votes on the display, to the shop with the display and to a charity. 

“We’ve gained a reputation for attracting ‘the real Santa’ from the North Pole and downtown merchants are proud to offer photos with him for free – bring your phone”, according to organizers of Gingerbread Village, opening November 26 when Harbour Air provides their annual Fly-In with Santa. Photos with Santa for kids and pets are also offered at Heritage Mews on weekends in December.

Art lovers are encouraged to make their way downtown for ARTWALK on December 3 & 4, an annual event that involves all of downtown. And if you’re a night-time shopper, get ready for the area’s late-night shopping event on December 9th.

Choirs and special events in the Old City Quarter, storytelling and puppet shows at the Museum and Library, and many more special attractions in Nanaimo’s heritage downtown shopping, dining and arts district are also offered.

Sponsored by the City of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Hospitality Association, Harbour Air, Western Forest Products, DenMar Electric, and Coast Capital Savings.

Night Market Launches Free North-End Shuttle

Two weeks into the return of the popular Commercial Street Night Market organizers are finding new, easier ways to visit downtown and enjoy what thousands of others have already experienced this year.

“Traffic and parking are challenging at every Night Market, so we came up with some car-alternative solutions” according to Kim Smythe, Chamber CEO. “In partnership with the RDN and Nanaimo North Town Centre we have free shuttle buses leaving from 4:30 pm from the south parking lot near Montana’s.” Smythe continued. 

“Additionally, we’re working with Hub City Cycles to operate a secure bike valet on Wharf Street right in the middle of the Market.” Smythe added, “The first couple of weeks of the Market have been really well-attended with around 150 vendors, a dozen food trucks, and a variety of entertainment for everybody”. 

The Commercial Street Night Market runs on Thursdays until September 1 from 5-9 pm. Road closures and parking alternatives will be in effect. 

Interested vendors, food truck operators and entertainers can contact the Chamber of Commerce for more information on how they can take their place downtown this summer at . 

Nanaimo Business Awards finalists as voted by the public


Offering excellence in retail through presentation of a unique concept, an intriguing environment, unique products and/or services and consistent delivery of high-value service.

  • Bread and Clutter 

  • Mid Island Co-op

  • Mood Cannabis Co

Food & Beverage

Recognizing hospitality businesses that consistently demonstrate excellence in food service, quality and presentation. Customers feel special and staff feel safe and supported ensuring an equilibrium.

  • Black Rabbit
  • Cliffside Brewing Company 
  • Wolf Brewery

Health & Wellness

Nominate a favourite clinic that seems to always go above and beyond, an alternative health care provider, pharmaceutical, natural/homeopath, RMT, physio or chiropractor with service second to none.

  • Caged Athletics 
  • Mood Cannabis C
  • Nanaimo Community Hospice Society

Personal & Aesthetic Services

If it makes you look and feel good, it fits in this category here. Spas, hair stylists, nail technicians, personal trainers, tailors, estheticians, make-up artists, tattoo artists – you’ve got the idea!

  • Foxy Box Laser and Wax Bar
  • Pure Spa
  •  The Babe Cave

Creative Services

Recognizing graphic designers, photographers, videographers, web designers, social media influencers – and anything else in the field that fits in here!

  • Bread and Clutter

  • Common Foundry

  • HA Photography

Financial Services

Businesses in banking, finance, investment, accounting, insurance, consulting services or other professional services will be recognized for their product and service range, industry knowledge, and expertise.

  • Coast Capital Savings Federal Credit Union

  • Driven Agencies (formerly Core Insurance)

  • Island Savings

Auto/Truck/Marine Sales

Nanaimo is a central location for new and used car, truck and boat sales. We’re looking to honour the best of these dealers and recognize their professionalism, community involvement and contributions to the industry.

  • Harbour Chandler Ltd

  • Laird Wheaton GM

  • Nanaimo Mitsubishi

Auto/Truck/Marine Service

Recognizing the service sector -- parts and service outlets, body shops, accessory sales, detailers, oil and lube services; in fact, any business that touches on transportation in our transportation-centric city.

Great Canadian Oil Change

Laird Wheaton GM

Nanaimo Mitsubishi

Property Developers

Property development drives a large part of Nanaimo’s economy and keeps us housed and our businesses in buildings they need. Big or small, Nanaimo’s developers shape our neighbourhoods and our community.

  • Island Red Cedar Construction

  • Parkshore Projects Ltd.

  • Pheasant Hill Homes

Building Trades

If you didn’t have an excellent and diverse selection of building trades specialists, then the designers, developers and builders couldn’t do a thing. Trades are the men and women who take the dreams and ideas on paper and turn them into reality.

  • Alair Homes Nanaimo

  • B Gallant Homes Ltd

  • BEtile

Inclusive Employer

Leading organisations who are committed to prioritising inclusion and creating truly inclusive workplaces. In inclusive workplaces all employees are valued and contribute towards the success of their organisation.

  • Island Crisis Care Society

  • Mood Cannabis Co

  • Nanaimo Association for Community Living

Indigenous Business

Recognize Indigenously owned and operated businesses – groundbreakers or long-standing operations. We’re looking forward to many nominations demonstrating the diversity of our community.

  • Beefeaters
  • Kw'umut Lelum Child and Family Services
  • Strong Nations Publishing Inc.

Young Entrepreneur

Young entrepreneurs have what it take to make it in business – a good idea, vision, and understanding of their marketplace and those unique qualities of a successful business operator – passion, drive, energy and creativity.

  • Bread and Clutter - Lindsay Ford

  • Common Foundry - Cory Landels

  • Jucee Health Bar - Leah Barcovic

Social Enterprise

Not-for-profit organizations are engaging in new self-sustaining business activities, where profits are targeted to programming, service delivery and development of internal social support systems. This new business model and services the NPO sector and could contribute significantly to our future GDP.

  • Coco Café

  • Haven Society

  • Loaves and Fishes

Community Impact

Presented to a not-for-profit organization that earned the communities regard for excellence and innovation in their programs, services, projects as well as their efforts to serve the community and have broad impact.

  • Island Crisis Care Society

  • Nanaimo Community Hospice Society

  • Nanaimo Youth Services Association

Micro & Home-Based Businesses

Recognition of businesses with up to 10 employees – start-ups, entrepreneurs and businesses who’ve entered into the succession movement. The interruption in normal business activities has inspired many to enter this entrepreneurial business development model.

  • •Bread & Clutter
  • Common Foundry
  • Cure Soaps

Small & Medium Enterprise: 11 - 99 Employees

Recognition of businesses with a vision and demonstrated capacity for sustainable growth, engagement in innovative practices, demonstrating outstanding performance in their field.

  • Axe & Grind Nanaimo
  • Cliffside Brewing Company
  • Harbour Air Seaplanes

Major Employer -- 100+ Employees

Recognizes a company in any industry for excellence as a business who engages in innovative practices, is outstanding as a pioneer in their field and are focused on positively impacting the community – through more than their workforce weight. Shows promise for growth and increased positive stimulus as a community economic driver.

  • Costco
  • Country Grocer
  • Island Crisis Care Society

Commercial Street Night Market returns June 23

The popular Commercial Street Night Market is back after a two years due to the pandemic. A lot of planning and development has gone into the event.

“We’re excited that the Commercial Street Night Market will open June 23 for another 11 Thursdays,” says Kim Smythe, Chamber CEO. “Popular artisan vendors, food trucks, street entertainers, and all the attractions that drew thousands downtown during the event’s run will all be back. We look forward to welcoming thousands,” he added. 

The 11-week event series runs on Thursdays from June 23 to September 1 from 5-9 pm. Road closures and parking alternatives will be in effect. “We’re looking into public transit offering park and ride, and we’re organizing a bike parking compound for those who wish to leave their cars at home.” added Smythe. “We’re nearly in a sold-out position for vendors, and with about ten food trucks we’ll offer plenty of diversity in food choices. We’re also expanding to three entertainment stages and a kids and family zone.”

“Everyone is so eager to return to our old sense of normal, reviving the Commercial Street Night Market, helping other local summer festivals and events succeed, and getting a networking and social connections back will be the real signs that life has returned to where we last left off,” stated CEO Smythe. “That’s what everyone really wants – but at their own speed.”

Interested vendors, food truck operators and entertainers can contact the Chamber of Commerce for more information on how they can take their place downtown this summer at . “We’ll have three stages operating every Thursday night as well as some weekend entertainment spots to fill at our Corner Concerts. We want to provide as wide a variety of entertainment as possible to appeal to all tastes,” says Smythe.

Snuneymuxw & Chamber of Commerce to sign MOU

An agreement three years in the making will be signed between Snuneymuxw First Nation and the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce at a ceremony April 22 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. The MOU officially recognizes formal adoption of the principles of UNDRIP by the Chamber, and a commitment to working enthusiastically towards economic reconciliation with First Nations, especially Snuneymuxw, in the mid-Island area.

“I am thankful that Snuneymuxw First Nation and the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce are partnering to promote an economy that is inclusive of First Nation peoples and supports Indigenous entrepreneurship.  For centuries the Canadian economy was designed to purposefully exclude First Nation peoples from trade and commerce and prevent participation in the wealth and resources of our territories.  Inherently, this promotes oppression, inequity and injustice.  So, I welcome this MOU with the Chamber, a collaboration that works to recognize First Nations’ economic and traditional principles and provide support that welcomes Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs. Economic reconciliation in this way will help to rebuild an economy that is inclusive and fair to everyone, regardless of race or ethnicity.” according to a statement released by SFN Chief Mike Wyse and Council.  

“We have arrived at the starting point for building a new, shared economic vision for the future. Prior to the pandemic, Chamber board members worked hard to develop the framework for this. Chamber Director and SFN Councillor Erralyn Joseph was key to defining the SFN perspective in the MOU”, stated Kim Smythe, Chamber CEO & President. “We’re proud and honoured to have First Nations perspective on our Board and in our business community and look forward to identifying and expanding Indigenous participation in our local economy.”

Chief Mike Wyse of Snuneymuxw First Nations will lead the signing. Witnessing the event will be noted leaders from government, business and the broader community including MP Lisa-Marie Barron and many Island MLAs. Minister for Jobs, Economic Recovery, and Innovation Ravi Kahlon will deliver a keynote address with an introduction by Minister Sheila Malcolmson.

A traditional Coast Salish welcome will be offered by “Footprints of the Wolf”, an SFN family performance group who will celebrate through drumming and song. The event is part of the Chamber’s Monthly Networking Luncheon series and is open to the public. Register online at

The event was planned to also recognize BC’s “Vision for Tomorrow” -- a plan for the province’s economic future…

Monthly chamber luncheon delayed to Feb. 11

Nanaimo Community Hospice and the Canadian Home Builders' Association Vancouver Island are the featured guests for the next Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon which has been delayed to February 11. They will provide a sneak peak at the 2022 Dream Home being built in the Foothills in Lantzville by Momentum Design Build. 

Kerriann Coady – CEO of Canadian Homebuilders Association Vancouver Island (CHBA VI), and Project Manager of NCHS Dream Home Lottery. CHBA VI represents more than 170 member firms across Vancouver island and is the voice of the residential construction industry. Their mission is to support the industry's ability to meet the aspirations of Canadians for housing affordability, quality and choice.  

Paige Karczynski – Executive Director, Nanaimo Community Hospice Society – Nanaimo Hospice is a pillar in the Nanaimo community actively advocating for a future where every person and their loved ones can access the finest standards of hospice palliative care at end of life in a timely manner with compassion, comfort and dignity. 


First Nations storytellers add to Downtown celebrations

211206 – Organizers of Downtown Nanaimo’s holiday activities happily announced the addition of two afternoons of Indigenous storytelling and one of puppet shows over the next two weekends. 

Geraldine Manson, Snuneymuxw Elder and Knowledge Keeper Dave Bodaly will provide several shows on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 11 & 12 at Literacy Nanaimo, 19 Commercial Street. Geraldine will take the stage at 2 pm each day, with Dave taking a show at 1 & 3 pm on Saturday and 1 pm on Sunday. Registration:

Geraldine has served her First Nations community as an elected Council member and worked for her community since 1980. She gives credit for he cultural wisdom and education her Elders, present and passed. Dave is a Snuneymuxw Knowledge Keeper, photographer, harvester, tour guide, genealogist, and weaver! Dave says that sharing culture with youth is part of his journey. He encourages all youth to connect with many cultures to explore and expand their creativity.

On Saturday, December 18, families can enjoy “A Penny A Sketch” performance of a holiday puppet show at Literacy Nanaimo as well. Shows are at 1:30 pm and 2:30 pm. Storytelling and puppet show performances are free, but you must pre-register to guarantee your seats. Covid protocols are in place and masks are mandatory.


Just across the street, Santa’s Gingerbread Village offers a chance for families to visit with Santa, safely distanced at pre-registered times on Saturdays and Sundays until December 19. While waiting for their appointment with Santa, children can also engage in some craft activities in the Village. ‘Corner Concerts’ at Diana Krall Plaza happen at the same time.

Registration for Santa visits:

For more information, contact: HEATHER FISK 250-713-1124