What confuses me to no end is this...
There are construction sites all over town, building new residential and commercial units. However, I also see endless "For rent" and "For lease" signs all over town.
The downtown is an embarrassment, with the "crown jewel" conference center hemorrhaging tax-payer money and dilapidated buildings rotting on every block. Wander downtown at 5:00pm on a summer's eve and you will find almost every business closed.
Front street has more vacancies than open businesses. The old A&B sound building is the biggest eyesore in this city, and it will continue to decay since no one would dare setup a business in this economy. City Hall continues to spend recklessly and insanely, ever-growing the bureaucracy by setting up the new tax-payer funded NEDC (which will fail) and other unaccountable entities that exist only to provide a few cronies with six figure paychecks.
Nanaimo was far better 10-15 years ago, and the downtown is now in a state of de facto collapse.
The fact that Commercial Street was voted the "Best street in Canada" by some random magazine article clearly illustrates the severity of the gap between reality and fantasy. Commercial street is a hole, with vacancies galore and stores largely surviving because the owner is prepared to leverage to the hilt to squeeze a few more months of life before bankruptcy.