Nanaimo city council voted to adopt the ‘doughnut’ economic model as a guiding principle for all city initiatives and planning. (Stock photo)

Nanaimo city council voted to adopt the ‘doughnut’ economic model as a guiding principle for all city initiatives and planning. (Stock photo)

Nanaimo council decides city will be guided by ‘doughnut’ economic model

Councillor says Nanaimo first city in Canada to adopt the model as a guiding principle

The City of Nanaimo has a strategic vision and other guiding documents, but from now on, all decisions need to fit into a ‘doughnut’ economy.

City council, at a special meeting Monday, voted 5-4 in favour of Coun. Ben Geselbracht’s motion to adopt the doughnut economic model “as a cohesive vision for all city initiatives and planning processes.”

Geselbracht posted on social media that Nanaimo is the first Canadian city to adopt doughnut economics as a vision and framework.

The doughnut model, according to a city staff report, challenges economies to meet and exceed “minimum global living standards” and equity, while “avoiding pushing beyond our ecological limits.” The idea is that the doughnut represents the sweet spot – “the safe and just space for humanity” between a social foundation on the inner edge of the doughnut and an ecological ceiling on the outer edge. Geselbracht’s motion calls for a “city portrait” to be created, with measurable social and environmental indicators and targets so the city can track its progress.

Staff’s report did not include recommendations, but noted a few different ways staff could incorporate the doughnut framework into council’s strategic plan, the Reimagine Nanaimo planning process and the environment committee’s work plan.

“The doughnut economy provides a very clear understanding of what the relationship is [with] the environment and what we have to do in terms of living within the means of the planet and also the basic foundation that we need to meet as a community to provide health and well-being to our citizens,” Geselbracht said.

The concept had been previously discussed at a city governance and priorities meeting, but councillors remained divided.

“I know some people are very strongly in favour of it, some people think it’s meaningless drivel. Everybody has their opinion,” said Coun. Ian Thorpe.

He said the doughnut model is unbalanced with a focus on environmental concerns, and said it would be better suited as a guiding principle for the environment committee’s work, not for all city decision-making.

“Although it’s called an economic model, it seems to have nothing to do with GDP economics and that’s my main concern…” Thorpe said. “It is, from what I’ve read, a very left-wing philosophy which basically says that business is bad, growth is bad, development’s bad, we want to focus just on social and environmental priorities. Well, I’m all in favour of being responsible for the environment, but I think there has to be a balance.”

Coun. Tyler Brown rebutted, saying it’s clear that humans’ actions are not in balance with the Earth.

“So to dispute that and say that this model is out of balance, I would say that’s completely incorrect because the current model is out of balance,” Brown said.

He added that he thinks people want leadership from city council on setting a vision “across many different domains” and said that’s what the doughnut economic model can do.

Coun. Sheryl Armstrong said she’d heard from urban planners who suggested the City of Nanaimo should be looking at an alternate sustainable development model, Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI). She noted Victoria, Saanich and Vancouver are ICLEI members and said it’s a proven model that would meet Nanaimo’s needs and come with supports, and wondered why the city would instead choose a model no other Canadian city has adopted.

“Because we like to be different, because we like to be leaders and just because nobody else is doing it in Canada doesn’t mean this isn’t the right framework and the right approach,” said Coun. Zeni Maartman.

Mayor Leonard Krog was most concerned with process, saying council should wait for a staff report on how the strategic plan could be amended to incorporate the doughnut economic framework.

“We are in the middle of the Reimagine Nanaimo process which is involving a great deal many more people than sit around this council table and I think it’s appropriate that it be referred accordingly,” Krog said.

However, council voted against referring the doughnut model to the economic development task force, preferring an immediate vote. Geselbracht suggested council members who disagreed with his position hadn’t done enough research, and Coun. Erin Hemmens pointed out that staff had indicated that the doughnut model could fit into existing work plans.

“The problem is that we have finite resources to take care of all the people on Earth…” she said. “Here’s a model we could use to basically pull apart this huge, complex question we’re wrestling with.”

The motion to adopt the doughnut economic model as a cohesive vision for all city initiatives and planning passed 5-4 with Krog, Thorpe, Armstrong and Coun. Jim Turley opposed.

READ ALSO: Island economic summit panellists discuss sustainability based on ‘doughnut’ model

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

City Hall

Just Posted

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) were deployed to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device on Jan. 20. (Google/Screencap)
UPDATED: Bomb disposal unit still determining nature of suspicious device found on Salt Spring Island

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The objectives of the Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society include peer support for parents and caregivers, as well as developing support services, projects, educational and employment opportunities for people with Down Syndrome. Photo supplied.
Vancouver Island Down Syndrome Society offers support for families in the community

New non-profit seeking directors in cities across Vancouver Island

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

The Rogers Creek Trail main trailhead is located on the Redford Extension in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Hiker rescued after cold few hours in the bush outside Port Alberni

Alberni Valley Rescue Squad said they receive frequent calls for people lost on this trail

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

The Victoria Fire Department extinguished a 15 foot tent fire in the 500-block of Ellice Street Jan. 19. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police investigating after 15-foot flames engulf tent

Flames damage nearby business in 500-block of Ellice Street

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Hecht Beach cabin in ashes. (Submitted)
Beloved secret cabin lost to fire on the North Island’s west coast

The trappers cabin was shared with locals, but kept mostly secret

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public’s help after a man allegedly assaulted a clerk at James General Store on Victoria Road on Jan. 18. (Submitted photo)
Suspect screams at customer then assaults store clerk on Nanaimo’s Victoria Road

RCMP asking for information about Jan. 18 incident at James General Store

Most Read