Hawthorne Community in Nanaimo – an example of a ‘Green Value’ development


The Hawthorne project is a 230 house suburban neighbourhood development in the City of Nanaimo, straddling a rocky outcrop between two wetlands, Buttertubs Marsh to the north and Cat Creek to the south.

Green value: hawthorne retention pond (200p)The Hawthorne project illustrates how a green value approach has been implemented. Green value means thinking about and realizing land use strategies that accommodate settlement needs in practical ways while protecting the ecological resources upon which our communities depend. Understanding green value approaches provides positive options for managing growth, the design of communities and buildings while sustaining environmental integrity.


Urban Development Features

The Hawthorne project was one of the largest developments in the City – 230 homes is approximately half of the City’s annual new home production (current growth is approximately 500 families per year). It is located adjacent to the Harewood neighbourhood (an older, inner city area), and the Malaspina University-College neighbourhood. The Hawthorne project is focussed on:

  • a ‘friendly’ pedestrian-oriented neighbourhood design
  • mixed densities
  • mixed-use commercial/ residential ‘village’
  • a rainwater management system that reduces flooding into neighbouring wetlands and helps to clean the water that is discharged.

Hawthorne is providing linkage to both the local alternative transportation trail network and the Trans-Canada trail.

It is creating affordable rental housing through ‘soft’ and/or ‘sensitive’ mixing of demographics and incomes and demonstrating a model of neighbourhood design that emphasizes ‘friendly’ features such as narrower streets, front porches (combined with de-emphasis of garages), mixed densities/uses/housing types, and public open spaces.

Finally, it will likely create opportunities for new businesses and employment (potentially supported by the new neighbourhood population) in the mixed-use village.


Rainwater Management & Green Infrastructure

The roads are narrower than is typical in a subdivision of this type (reflective of the City’s general trend toward smaller road cross sections). Curb-less streets are designed with bioswales. Water collects and infiltrates into absorbent soils; when soils are saturated the swale includes freeboard to accommodate additional water storage.

Green value: hawthorne neighbourhood

In areas where gradients are steeper concrete weirs are incorporated to reduce flow rates and minimize potential erosion. During extreme storm events flood flows are handled through a more traditional stormwater conveyance system. A system of subsurface rock pits and infiltration galleries has been incorporated, leading from the site into downstream wetlands.


Green Value Case Study Profiles

The Hawthorne project is included in a collection of twelve case study profiles compiled by the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia and the Ministry of Environment to celebrate leading examples of real estate development projects in Vancouver Island communities. These case studies illustrate how green value approaches have been implemented.

To download the complete set of case studies, please click on this link to Green Value Strategies & Develop with Care Case Studies .


Posted September 2007