Our Passionate Members
Strong Towns Nanaimo is made up of professionals and passionate citizens alike. We're a diverse group of activists who believe that Nanaimo should be built for people, not cars.
Director of Community Action
Caelen studied Business Management and Community Planning during his time at VIU. Working as a planning and development consultant, Caelen passionately promotes placemaking and urban design principles through his work. In his role at Strong Towns, Caelen advocates for development patterns that positively influence the aesthetic quality, environmental sustainability, social well-being, and economic vitality of the City of Nanaimo.
Possessing a deep love for all living things, biology was a natural career choice for Deraek. Through his many years working as a biologist, he witnessed first hand the near complete disregard our political system has unfortunately had for the findings of environmental scientists. A life in politics taught him the importance of the built environment. Important not only in our global pursuit to live ecologically, but in building happier and more productive lives for those living within it.
Writer, Local Correspondent
Louis James is an opinion writer for Strong Towns Nanaimo. Through his work as a refugee resettlement worker in both Canada and the United States, Louis wants to bring awareness to how the design of our cities prevent newcomers from flourishing. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from Vancouver Island University, and his writing and advocacy focus on how we can make Nanaimo a more creative, prosperous, and equitable city for everyone.
Emboldened by Nanaimo’s new OCP, Michael and Olivia started Strong Towns Nanaimo to advocate for new urbanism in the Harbour City. Born in Ottawa, raised in Vancouver, and married in Mackenzie; Michael’s travels landed him in Nanaimo, eager to advocate for a resilient, empowered, and financially-secure city. At his core, Michael wants to see a connected, healthy Nanaimo where people have abundant transportation options and affordable housing.
Co-Founder, Features Editor
A career in the trades helped Olivia realize that the built environment is something we all take for granted. After moving to Nanaimo, she co-founded Strong Towns Nanaimo with Michael to help educate the public on the complexities and issues of municipalities in BC. Olivia’s a die-hard advocate for cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, and she’s excited for the future of the Harbour City.
Urban Agriculture Coordinator
Tara is a paralegal currently practicing corporate and commercial law, with a background in banking and elder law. Since moving to Nanaimo in 2021 (and inheriting chickens), she has become an advocate for homesteading, composting, farming and supporting local and sustainable practices. Tara thinks Vancouver Island is incredible; she's eager to contribute to the community to ensure everyone is able to enjoy and access what Nanaimo has to offer.