WATCH: An eyesore in Nanaimo’s downtown was undergoing a Christmas facelift on Wednesday afternoon. A number of city residents joined forces to erect two Christmas trees and beautify the corner that formerly housed the Jean Burns building. It was destroyed by fire in March of 2016 and the building and much of the ruble has been removed in recent months leaving a gaping hole. Kendall Hanson has more.
With a little bit of grunt work, a number of helpful hands were giving a needed festive makeover to a decimated downtown corner Wednesday afternoon.
“The community is coming together because we’ve got the Santa Claus parade on Saturday at 5 o’clock and we thought we really need some trees downtown to light up just before the parade,” said Kevan Shaw, Christmas on the Cresent organizer.
This corner was once home to the Jean Burns building, which was destroyed by fire in March of 2016.
In recent months, the buildings have been demolished and most of the debris removed.
“We thought it would need a little tender loving care and that’s why we decided the neighbours here of the Victoria Crescent Association to get together chip in, get some trees and decorate them with festive lighting,” said Shaw.
The City of Nanaimo is lending the Christmas lights but all the work is being done by volunteers.
It’s all driven by Christmas spirit and taxpayers aren’t paying a dime.
“The whole downtown needs an uplift and the community are coming together to do it,” said volunteer Tim McGrath.
“I enjoy being part of the community so I came down to help out,” said volunteer Ian Phyper.
“The area’s been under some distress with the homeless issues and this is kind of like saying ‘This is our block we’re taking it back and we’re erecting a Christmas tree,'” said Rick Hyne of the property owner group, Crankshaw Holdings.
And the efforts are quickly being noticed.
“It was a beautiful building and it’s sad to see it go but this is a beautiful change,” said passerby Allan Boos. “It will really revitalize the corner.”
The company that owns the property says they still haven’t decided if they will rebuild here so it may be some time yet before there is new life on this corner.
For now, the community is making sure it will sparkle this holiday season.