Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Nanaimo Supportive Housing Operators

Societies selected for Nanaimo supportive housing sites

Pacifica Housing and Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society, in partnership with Columbian Centre Society and Haven Society, have been selected as the successful non-profit providers to develop, manage and operate two new supportive housing developments for those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Nanaimo.

The societies were selected as the result of a Request for Proposal call issued in September, which included an extensive evaluation process carried out by a committee comprised of representatives from the two funding organizations  – BC Housing and the City of Nanaimo.

Pacifica Housing will operate the 6025 Uplands site, while the three societies will work in partnership to provide housing with supports for the 1612 Dufferin Cres. development.

Expected to begin construction in early 2013, each of these new buildings will create between 35 and 40 units of supportive housing, for a total of up to 80 new units that will connect individuals with the services and supports they need to stabilize and regain their independence.

With the non-profit selection process now complete, the Province and the City of Nanaimo will work in partnership with the societies to fully develop plans for community consultation, design and programs to be offered at the facilities.

The Dufferin and Uplands developments are part of a partnership between the Province of British Columbia and the City of Nanaimo to help address homelessness in the city.

The new locations are in addition to two sites:
·         Salish Lelum at 477 Tenth St. was recently completed and provides 18 apartments for Aboriginal youth and elders.
·         437 Wesley St. is under construction and will provide 36 apartments of supportive housing.

In total, these four sites will create approximately 130 new apartments of supportive housing in Nanaimo.

Mayor Ruttan is quoted as saying:
“I am excited to see these much-needed projects moving forward for people in need of support in our community. The construction of almost 80 units of housing for those most in need will generate jobs and respond to one of the City’s long standing problems, homelessness. I am confident that the operators will bring their years of experience to manage these facilities safely and securely, consistent with the expectations of the surrounding neighbourhood.”


December CounterAttack Campaign

Get Home Safely Over Holidays
Is it your turn to be the designated driver? This morning, the province, police and ICBC launched the December impaired driving CounterAttack campaign, and that’s the question they want drivers to ask themselves this holiday season. Plan for a safe ride home and share the responsibility of being the designated driver to help make sure your friends and family get home safely.

Police will be conducting CounterAttack roadchecks across the province in December to raise awareness and help reduce impaired driving crashes. On average, 127 lives are lost in impaired-related crashes each year in B.C.


Sunny Skies Comin' Our Way


Mount Washington Opens Friday

Mount Washington will be opening one week early this year, with a base of more than 100 centimetres. All the terrain on the front side of the mountain will be open however whether the Outback will be open hasn't been decided.

Easy Acres  will also be open which is a completely redone area making it easier than ever for newcomers to learn to ski and snowboard. Also featured is the brand new 'magic carpets', which replace the lift chairs as a means of going up the mountain. Basically they are covered, moving sidewalks that make ascending the hill simple for beginners.

To learn more about this completely redone area of the mountain designed to make learning a fun, enjoyable experience visit their website HERE.


Nanaimo Bus Service Expands

RDN and BC Transit 
Outline 2012 Service Expansion

5,000 Service-Hours Being Added
 Open House Dec. 6 Beban Park

Bus travel in the Nanaimo area is about to get easier and more convenient thanks to a 5,000 service-hour expansion scheduled for March 4, 2012. On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the Regional District of Nanaimo Transit System and BC Transit are hosting an open house from 12 pm to 8 pm at Beban Park to explain the specifics of this expansion to current and future riders.

"This significant increase in transit service will mostly be noticeable to City of Nanaimo transit users, but there will also be improvements for residents of the Bowser area, and for commuters who travel to Nanaimo from the Oceanside area," explained Regional District of Nanaimo Transit Select Committee Chair Bill Holdom. "This open house will give our ridership the opportunity to take a look at these service improvements, ask questions and provide feedback about Regional District of Nanaimo Transit."

The expanded transit service will include more frequent trips to commercial areas and major hubs including Departure Bay Ferry Terminal, Vancouver Island University and Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, and will increase convenience for residents who use the system for day-to-day commuting.

"Expanded and improved transit service will support the growing demand of our customers in Nanaimo," said BC Transit President and CEO Manuel Achadinha. "Working with our local partners and gathering public feedback on these enhancements will help ensure that transit is effective, efficient, and provides the best value for our customers."

For more information about the Dec. 6 open house or the Regional District of Nanaimo Transit System service expansion, call 250-390-6565 or 250-954-1001.


Photos With Santa In Nanaimo

Woodgrove Mall

This year, as part of our 30th anniversary celebration, we’re giving away free, professional 5X7 photos with Santa the entire time he’s here, from 6 pm on Friday, November 18 right up until 3 pm on Christmas Eve (Santa has somewhere else to be that night).

Consider it a gift from our Woodgrove Centre family to your family. To check Santa's hours at Woodgrove Mall visit their website HERE.

Nanaimo North Town Centre

Country Club Mall


Photos are taken with a digital camera, and your prints are available within a few minutes of your visit with Santa.
Photo Times:
Monday - Saturday
10:30am - 1:00pm
2:00pm - 4:00pm
5:00pm - 7:30pm*

11:00am - 1:30PM
2:00PM - 4:00PM
*Evening sittings start on Wednesday, December 1st.

Santa Downtown
(Nanaimo Museum Lobby)

Thursdays & Fridays Dec. 1 - 16,  3 - 7 pm
Saturdays, Dec. 3 - 17, 10 - 5 pm (Pet Photo Day)
Dec. 22 & 23 1 - 5 pm


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Register For Christmas Hampers In Nanaimo

Food Hamper Registration Closes Dec. 2 -- 4:00 PM

If you wish to register for the Hamperville Food Hamper this Christmas you will need to register by this coming Friday at 4:00 PM at 867 Bruce Ave. (where Salvation Army used to be), this registration is for Food Hampers and the Toy Drive.

For full information about Hamper Registration visit the Hamperville website HERE.

For information about the Nanaimo Toy Drive Registration visit the Hamperville website HERE.

If you would like to help out Hamperville this year there are many different options open to you. To see different ways YOU can help visit the Hamperville website HERE.


Councilor Loyd Sherry Bids Adieu

Loyd Sherry Says Good-bye After 31 Years Service

Longtime Nanaimo Councilor Sherry addressed his final council in the same fashion he addressed his first, standing on his feet. Councilor Sherry noted that when he was first elected, in Council meetings you knew who had the floor as they were on their feet, which is the tradition still held in senior governments.

In an emotional farewell, Sherry thanked is wife and family, first and foremost, without whose support he would never have been able to serve the community as he has. He recognized the independence of those currently sitting on council and said that the present council is one of the best he has had the pleasure of serving on.

He also noted that his reputation for wanting to extend more caution at times, particularily with some decisions earned him the name Dr. NO from some quarters. However, those who agreed with Loyd and those who now agree with 20/20 hindsight believe that nickname should read Dr. KNOW.

Loyd is a Nanaimo native son (fairly rare in Nanaimo, populated by so many displaced Easterners) who has an invaluable knowledge of Nanaimo's rich history and his concern for preserving our heritage is obvious for all to see.

Fellow Councilors presented Loyd with a token of their appreciation in the form of an envelope, hopefully containing more than just a signed card.

Loyds knowlege of the past and sound desire to 'roll up our sleeves' will leave a hole on city council that will be difficult, if not impossible to replace.

Hats Off to Councilor Sherry, and may he enjoy what will seem like mountains of spare time with friends and family. Nanaimo would expect however, to see Loyd from time to time in chambers offering his advice on important issues affecting our community.


History of Texada Island

Meet Author Heather Harbord
Dec. 5, 6:00 - 7:30 PM
Nanaimo Harbourfront Library

Texada is the largest island in the Strait of Georgia, a long strip of coveted mineralized granite and limestone dividing the upper gulf. While Texada is now better known as the home of the illegal agriculture product called Texada Gold, it was once the focus of a real gold rush that lured cookie-tycoon William Christie. The island was the site of British Columbia’s first major political scandal when squabbles over a lucrative iron ore claim forced the resignation of Premier Amor de Cosmos in February 1874. The rich mineral deposits in time gave rise to three booming towns—Gillies Bay, Blubber Bay and Van Anda. Over the years the population flowed with the mineral prices as Texada was in and out of the news.

Author Heather Harbord’s dedicated research includes over a hundred interviews with locals and old-timers, creating a captivating book full of unforgettable characters, humorous anecdotes and many previously unpublished photographs. A following-up to Heather’s BC bestseller Desolation Sound: A History, Texada Tapestry is another valuable volume on the history of the BC coast.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Occupy Nanaimo Asked To Vacate Plaza

City of Nanaimo May Seek Injunction 
Against Nanaimo Occupiers at Diana Krall Plaza

The City of Nanaimo fully supports the right to freedom of expression.  Since the occupation of the Diana Krall plaza, Mayor and Council, staff and the RCMP have actively communicated with the occupiers in an attempt to bring about resolution and an end to the occupation of the Plaza.  The City of Nanaimo had hoped that through these discussions, the occupiers would vacate the plaza and use alternative communication methods to disseminate their message.   To date this has not occurred and ongoing communications with the occupiers have not brought about a solution that will see the plaza returned to the citizens of Nanaimo.

An information notice was distributed to the occupiers advising that the occupation is in direct contravention of several sections of the “Parks Regulation Bylaw 2008, No. 7073.  Through this notice, a request was made to the occupiers to remove their structures and tents in an effort to bring about a peaceful end to the occupation. In addition, there is an ongoing interest for the health, safety and well being of the Occupiers and the general public as a result of this occupation.

As time has passed, downtown businesses and residents have indicated that they are now seeing a negative impact as a result of the occupation in Diana Krall plaza.  Complaints about the occupation of the plaza have increased and public use of this public space has declined with planned events being cancelled or moved due to the presence of occupiers in the plaza.

Council hopes that the occupiers will voluntarily vacate the plaza.

Mayor and Council of the City of Nanaimo met recently and discussed how to bring about resolution to the current situation.  As such, staff have been provided with approval and direction to begin the legal process of seeking a civil injunction to end all contraventions of  Parks Bylaw 7073 including the removal of tents,  permanent structures and chattels.  The City would like to conclude the encampment in a peaceful and respectful way.  Mayor and Council, staff and the RCMP are encouraging occupiers to voluntarily vacate the plaza by Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 9:00 am before the City proceeds with the civil injunction.


City Supports Auditor General

Auditor General for Local Government

The City of Nanaimo has observed with interest the public debate over the Provincial initiative to introduce an Auditor General for Local Government.  The legislation to create the office was tabled on 2011-Nov-24.

It is noted that the Provincial Government has stated that the Auditor General for Local Government will undertake performance audits “to provide local governments with objective information and relevant advice that will assist them in their accountability to their communities for the stewardship of public assets and the achievement of value for money in their operations.”

The City of Nanaimo supports this mandate and encourages activity that will assist City Council in providing full and appropriate accountability and stewardship on behalf of the citizens of this community.  It is anticipated that the Auditor General for Local Government will be an important tool in providing appropriate assurance to the public that the City is effectively managing the resources entrusted to it.

The City appreciates the fact that the Provincial Government is funding this new body through provincial resources so there will be no direct additional burden on local taxpayers as a result of this initiative.

The Auditor General for Local Government makes its own decisions about what performance audits are to be conducted.  Whether or not it will be able to provide direct assistance in reviewing City of Nanaimo operations at an early date is not known, but it is understood that the office is empowered to provide information about recommended practices arising from performance audits of other communities.  In this way it may be possible for all communities to benefit from their early projects, regardless of which communities undergo the performance audits.


Prince of Wales Award Nanaimo

Nanaimo presented 
Prince of Wales Award

The City of Nanaimo was recently awarded the Prince of Wales Prize: Honourable Mention for Exemplary Stewardship of Heritage Architecture by the Heritage Canada Foundation. 

Created in 1999 with the support of His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales whose commitment to architecture, the environment, and inner-city renewal is well known, the prize is awarded annually to municipalities which have demonstrated a strong and sustained commitment to the conservation of its historic places, and have a record of supporting heritage preservation through such means as regulation, policies, funding and exemplary stewardship. 

As noted by Mayor John Ruttan, “The award is a testament to the support and leadership provided by numerous Nanaimo City Councils over the past couple of decades with respect to built heritage conservation, and in particular to the building rehabilitation work that’s been completed over the past 10 years on the downtown revitalization initiative.” 

Mayor Ruttan received the award on October 13th during a ceremony in the Crystal Ballroom of the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. The event was held as part of the 14th International Conference of National Trusts.  The Heritage Canada Foundation is a national registered charity dedicated to the preservation of Canada’s historic places.

Previous recipients of the Prince of Wales Prize in both its primary and honourable mention forms, include Victoria, B.C., Saint John, New Brunswick, Quebec City, Quebec, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Markham, Ontario, and Calgary, Alberta.

For further information please see the Heritage Canada Foundation website at:


Voter Idea From Another Country

Could This Be An Answer To Voter Apathy?

The above image in the National Post shows an Egytian women's ink stained finger, which proves she has voted, and can therefore not vote again, might hold a partial solution for the pathetic voter turnout we get in Canada.

Do you suppose we might take our civic duty any more seriously if the fact we hadn't voted was apparent to one and all, for a week or so until the ink wore off?? People in other nations are willing to lay down their lives for the right to participate in the freedom democracy holds out, while we in this great country built on democracy are too self absorbed to do our civic duty.


Parting Gift From This Council

Your Water 
& Garbage Fees
Will Go Up Next Year
By $22.83 On Average

One of the last bylaws this council can be expected to pass will see water rates increase by 5% next year which will mean an increase of $15.83 to the average single family home.

Garbage and recycling fees will go up by 6.14% for a total of $7.00 on average for a typical single family home.

The combined total of the two increases will mean an additional $22.83 from the typical single family home in Nanaimo. This of course is additional to the expected tax increases next year that won't be decided until the new budget is adopted.

A Few Questions Not To Expect From This Council

If this council is true to form, they will simply get out the official City Council rubber stamp and apply it to the request from city staff for more funding. Do no expect them to insist that staff support these increases, and demonstrate they can't find any departmental efficiencies which could help reduce these fees.

If they are true to form, they might ask a minor question or two, just to demonstrate they are actually participating in the process, but other than that you can expect another $23.00 or so out of your pocket next year, for basically no improved benefit.

6.14% increase in garbage fees?? How can that be, when it was just reported that the new green bin program reduced the waste going to the Cedar dump by 50%. Only government could figure out how to reduce the amount going to landfill and at the same time increase the cost of tippage!

Don't Blame Staff and Council For Increasing YOUR Rates

Since 3 out of 4 of us can't be bothered even voting for members of council, you can expect staff and council realize they can pretty much keep taxing and spending with little response from the totally comatose general public. Since that is far easier than rolling up the sleeves and looking for efficiency, expect more of the same from the next council. The majority of which are made up from members of this council.


Brian Fillmore Post Election Comments

I wish to thank our community for the warm welcome and tremendous support that I have received in the short time that I have lived here. In only a few short years, My wife, Anna, and I have come to feel completely at home here in Nanaimo. 

We are both employed at amazing organizations and we have met so many wonderful friends and acquaintances that it feels like we have lived here for most of our lives. We belong to a wonderful church that is a tremendous support to us and to many other families throughout our city. As a member of the North Nanaimo Rotary club, I invite any aging members of the YPN to give us a call as they approach their mandatory retirement age of 40. We would like you to consider Rotary as your next step. Think of us as the OPN.

I have three more years to continue contributing to making Nanaimo an even better place to live and work. I am looking forward to new challenges and to continuing to hold your confidence. I have not earned my seat at your council yet, but I promise to keep working at it.

I know I have a lot to learn, and based on some of the emails I have received, a lot of false perceptions to clear up. I am not sure how a guy who grew up in social housing until I was eight years old has been pegged as someone who is against social housing. I will not back down from my position that community consultation needs to take place before major decisions are made that affect our neighbourhoods and our tax dollars.

This election seems to have come down to one issue and there was apparently no room for discussion. You were either for low barrier housing of any sort at any location, or were against all social housing. My only position on that issue was that we needed to talk about it. When one group decided to endorse some candidates whom they felt would actually open this issue up for discussion, their understandably reactive campaign made some serious mistakes which became fodder for editorials that blew this issue completely out of proportion. Too bad, there were a lot of important issues that really needed to be addressed. 

My name is Brian Fillmore and I will work hard for the next three years to earn your confidence, and hopefully your support to represent you on city council in 2014.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lion's Santa Claus Parade 2011

Rain Couldn't Dampen The Spirits Of The Faithful

While unfortunately it did rain on the parade this year, those who braved the elements to see their favourite Jolly Old Elf, were not disappointed and parade organizers and participants deserve a big 'Thank You' for putting on this annual event.

Apparently Santa had left his Missus back at the North Pole baking cookies this year, but he made time in his busy schedule to take requests in the VICC. From now until Christmas he will be available around town at different locations to hear the young ones wish list, and to have pictures taken.

More Parade Pictures

If you missed the parade this year, you can still see all the great entries by opening the page titled 'Santa Parade' which has a separate tab at the top of the Home page.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Votes For Nanaimo City Council Candidates

Click Image To Enlarge

The chart above shows the number of votes each candidate received in the recent civic election. If you want to see the individual polling station results visit the city website.


Friday, November 25, 2011

Nanaimo Christmas Lights 2011

Spirit of Christmas Decorating Contest

It's hard to believe we are talking about the annual Christmas Lights contest again, but in another month, the Jolly Guy in the red suit will be sliding down the chimney again.

A popular event around Nanaimo at this time of year is the Christmas Decorating Contest sponsored by the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce. If you would like to view their entry form for this year's contest it can be seen HERE.

If you are a homeowner who would like to enter your home in this year's contest you can enter by simply calling 'Marilyn' at 250-716-6110 or you can fax the completed form to 250-756-1584 but the most convenient is to simply call Marilyn.

The deadline for entry is 4:00 PM on Friday December 16, 2011 with the judging taking place on Monday, December 19th.

Watch this space for the list of the winning entries in this years contest. Time to dig out the decorations and dust off Santa and his sleigh and make your house, the best on the block!

Spirit of Christmas Residential Lights Entries 2011

  • 2320 Whitney Road
  • 516 Kennedy Street
  • 921 Cadogan St. FIRST PLACE
  • 2535 Holyrood Dr. THIRD PL
  • 2172 Duggan Rd.
  • 1205 Townsite Rd
  • 624 Shephard Ave
  • 3768 Avonlea Dr.
  • 4886 Ney Dr
  • 3666 Cottleview
  • 6625 Groveland Dr.
  • 6060 Nelson Road
  • 520 Churchill
  • 2027 Latimer Rd
  • 1836 Latimer
  • 3592 Fairview Drive
  • 710 Hunter St.
  • 4311 Jinglepot Rd.
  • 6262 Olympia Way - SECOND PLACE
  • 6037 Breonna
  • Harpooner
  • 731 Arbutus
  • 1834 Groveland


Nanaimo City Council Meeting Nov. 28,2011

Nanaimo City Council Meeting
Monday, Nov. 28, 2011 - 7:00 PM
Shaw Auditorium
Vancouver Island Convention Centre
Democracy Works When The Public Stays Involved
It Is Too Important To Leave To Politicians

Last Meeting For This Council

If you can attend in person that is the best way to see your business being taken care of, second best is watching on Shaw Cable from the comfort of your easy chair, it is also available live online using this link, and last but not least is reading what the local press says went on.


Occupy Nanaimo Group Told To Leave

Leave Immediately Or?????

In a response to a question I sent to Mayor and council regarding the status of the Occupy Nanaimo group in Diana Krall Plaza Mayor Ruttan responded by saying:

"Those listening to the "Wave" Radio will know that if the occupiers do not leave immediately, Council will address the issue Monday night and decide on a course of action. "

It would seem that Mayor Ruttan has drawn a line in the sand finally, although it sounds much like a parent trying to get a child to comply by insisting on counting to 3. The Occupy Nanaimo group state on their website, that they intend to stay until the new council is sworn in and deal with them.

Should Occupy Nanaimo not comply with the Mayors order to 'leave immediately or city council will discuss it on Monday night at the regular council meeting', it could make for an interesting meeting on Monday, should Occupy Nanaimo supporters show up en masse at city council.

If they do, you might want to get some popcorn!


Leadership At City Hall

Has It Gone To The Dogs??

Let's face it, not many of us like conflict, and for the most part want to be liked by everyone and just get along in peace and harmony. While those might be common traits with most of us, they are not always desirable when it comes to demonstrating leadership.

This past council has demonstrated some 'conflict avoidance' actions which have perhaps been good for keeping the peace but have resulted in questionable results for the citizens of Nanaimo.

Mr. Berry's 'Handshake"

The first glaring example of such pacifist type action, was when our previous city manager, decided he would like to retire a couple of years early, and since he was such a terrific fellow and had given selflessly of himself for years, doing his duty without once complaining about his six figure income, it was decided by Mayor Ruttan to offer Mr. Berry two years of salary, and send him into early retirement. Conflict avoided!!

Shiny New Office For Staff

Then there is the issue of the shiny new office for city hall staff. You will have to forgive me, if what I offer here is not exactly accurate, for you see, the details of this little deal are still securely hidden away from prying public eyes behind the secrecy veil of 'in camera'. Remember now, what I am offering is the product of my imagination, and may in fact not be entirely accurate but given observations of city hall, I feel confident there is some truth in my version of events leading to spending $16 million of YOUR money on a shiny new office.

It seems that city hall staff pitched the council on the fact that perhaps relations between staff and council might be more harmonious if council agreed to provide the under appreciated staff with some shiny new offices, which would satisfy their bruised egos. The problem of course was constructing a story which could be sold to a gullible public, which seldom pays attention, partly due to a snoozing local fourth estate.

Who can argue with the issue of safety, both of city hall staff and the general public who visit the city hall annex to conduct their business?? Good starting point for the strategy of gaining the use of $16 million for a shiny new office space. This could be accomplished if you hired an engineering firm and asked them to sign off on the seismic integrity of the existing office. For those unfamiliar, it would be difficult to get an engineer to put his stamp of approval for seismic integrity of a great many Nanaimo buildings, and that would include many homes.

Now, the city hall staff had in their possession an engineers document pointing to the unsafe state of the city hall annex. They would have to ignore the fact, the same document estimated it would cost less than $4 million to bring the building up to current seismic codes. The best way to keep this whole deal away from public scrutiny was to hide the process behind the oft used tool of supreme secrecy known as 'in camera'.

In order to be sure they could control the end result and get the building they wanted, city hall staff would have to 'go around' the procurement process outlined in their own purchasing guidelines and stitch the whole deal together using an Expression of Interest to provide staff with a safe working environment, without renovating their existing office for a fraction of the cost of building a shiny new building. Remember that was always the 'end game' in the first place; a Shiny New Office For Staff.

They were able to convince a conflict-avoiding council that they should approve the expending of $16 million of YOUR money instead of spending a mere $4 million to fix up their current office, and they convinced them it should be done without going to public tender! So that there would be no repercussions at the last election, council agreed to keep forever secret the identity of councilors who supported this scheme hatched and brought to completion by a very clever city hall management team.

There are two more glaring examples of a conflict-avoiding city council which are worthy of more investigation but these two are both blatant examples of how tax dollars can be spent willy-nilly when you have a city council being led to and fro by a very skilled city hall management team.

You may think that city council calls the shots at city hall, and you would be forgiven of your ignorance, as that is the image portrayed to a gullible public by all the actors in this little drama which gets played out daily on Wallace Street.

With the exception of a few new faces, we have re-elected basically the same council, so it is doubtful one could expect any different results with the new council. Insisting on a core services review and zero based budgeting will be very challenging for a conflict-avoiding council who just wants to get along with city staff, and keep doing as they 'recommend'.


Port Theatre Nanaimo Nov. 25 - 28, 2011

Doug and The Slugs
Friday, November 25th 7:30 PM

The Red Nocturnal
Saturday, November 26th 7:30 PM

Matthew Good
Monday, November 28th 7:30 PM


What's Wrong With This Picture?

Italy Pays 6.5% For Six Month Money

You know something is upside down when I can borrow money cheaper than  one of the previously largest economies in the world.

Just the other day, I got one of those terrific offers from my credit card company offering to loan me funds to pay off other debts and the rate of interest they were charging was 5.9%!

Imagine, a little old person being able to borrow loot for less than a sovereign nation! Do any of us really think that ANYONE has the money problem solved?? If you did, you likely believe in that jolly ole elf too.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Occupy Group Shouldn't Mess With Santa

Victoria Occupy Group Plan On Entering Parade

If gaining any real support from the general public is their hope the Occupy movement folk really should realize you shouldn't mess with Santa if you want to keep off of the 'naughty' list.

The Occupy Victoria group are reported to be planning on peacefully marching in the Santa Clause parade in Victoria. Needless to say many parents are none too happy with the prospect of the Jolly Old Elf being followed this by group.

Locally, the 'occupation' of Diana Krall Plaza has meant Santa can no longer take requests from the kids while seated in the plaza as he did last year. Instead he will be found in the conference centre after the parade.

I would remind any of the Occupation Nanaimo group to remember what happened a few years ago to a certain nameless (only because I can't remember) school superintendent who tried to have Christmas removed from the local school scene. Last I heard she was hiding out in Hamilton Ontario so she could avoid paying a rather substantial legal bill.

So a word or two of advice to the Occupy Nanaimo movement:

You don't pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger
and you don't mess around with Santa


Sampson Holds 50% Interest In Harmac

Debenture Conversion Yields Nearly 50% Ownership

The local daily is reporting that Harmac's saviour, the Sampson Group has converted debentures into shares, giving the group almost 50% of the once defunct mill.

You may recall that the closed mill was bought out of bankruptcy for $13.5 million which included employees kicking in $25,000 each for a 25% ownership stake in the company. Several other investors, including the Sampson Group, came up with the rest.

Fortune would seem to have smiled on the mill since the new ownership resurrected it and like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, once again the signs of prosperity can be seem rising from the stacks at the mill.

The article goes on to praise the Sampson group for their faith in the mill and the employees and how they have guided the company through the perilous economic times of late. They didn't mention an earlier story which pointed to a sharp demand for their product in China which had pushed world pulp prices to record highs. They also don't mention the fact that given the original deal was for $13.5 million and the Canadian taxpayer kicked in approximately $25 million for upgrades, the biggest shareholder by far, should be the Canadian taxpayer.

Just a quick, very rough calculation of the return to the Sampson Group, assuming the $13.5 million and the $25 million now represent, real value at the mill, it would now have a value of $38.5 million. A 50% ownership stake would then be worth $19.25 million, and if the original investment by the Sampson Group was 50% of the $13.5 million their original investment of $6.75 million, would now be worth $19.25 million.

Since as pointed out earlier, the Canadian taxpayer has nearly twice as much money in the mill as it was originally worth meaning we should own about 66% of the mill I wonder when we might expect our dividend??


Nanaimo Weather Forecast

Be Sure To Take Your Umbrella

If you are planning on heading downtown to see the Santa Claus parade you might need to take an umbrella instead of snowshoes!

If the weatherman has it right (and they are hardly ever wrong), it looks like St. Nick will have to trade in his snow boots for a pair of rubber boots.

Perhaps if we all put 'GOOD WEATHER FOR SANTA' on our list, it might turn nice, at least for a few hours on Saturday afternoon.

What's that, we west coasters are always saying?? 
"At least you don't have to shovel it!"


Nanaimo Artwalk Dec. 3 & 4

The 13th annual Nanaimo Artwalk features 50 local artisans including painters, potters, photographers, jewellry makers, textile artists and mixed media artists at 25 venues.

This year participating artists are not limited to the Old City Quarter but include several in the Townsite area and 12 will be featured in the Nanaimo Centre Stage at 25 Victoria Road.

To learn more about this years exciting event, visit their website HERE where you can see all of the participating artisans and download a printable brochure complete with a numbered map showing their locations.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Advice To New Councillors

"Don't Drink The CoolAide"

There are serious side effects of drinking the staff prepared CoolAide, not the least of which is presuming that city staff really have all the answers and are making the correct recommendations.

Remember this is the same management team that thinks building $16 million shiny new offices (without going to public tender) instead of spending $4 million upgrading their present offices was a good use of tax dollars.

They also recommended that city council roll over and play dead, when VIHA ordered Nanaimo to build a $70 million treatment plant to treat water that has needed boiling a couple of times in 150 years.

They also successfully managed the construction of the conference centre and gave Nanaimo a building that was supposed to cost $52 million for the low, low price of only $75 million.
They took over two months to approve a building permit to put a new roof on a garage at the food bank, and less than 30 seconds to approve their shiny new office (built without a tender).

The most serious side effect of drinking the CoolAide is the illusion that it is council who are making all the decisions, when in fact, city hall management staff can pretty much lead city council to whatever conclusion they wanted in the first place.

If you doubt that, ask some SERIOUS questions about the shiny new staff office!! Then make a motion to bring all the hidden reports out of 'in camera' so residents can see exactly how this decision was made, and who on council supported this expense.

Another serious side effect is to avoid all kinds of questioning and debate during council meetings, after all, if staff recommends it, it must be right.....right?


Nanaimo Gas Prices Nov. 23

Petro-Canada Continues To Hose Nanaimo Drivers
Where Is Occupy Nanaimo When You Need Them??

It must be because Nanaimo drivers have so much extra cash to burn, or because we just love supporting our poor local gas stations (nearly said 'service stations') that Petro-Canada keeps gouging Nanaimo drivers as they have for months and months and months.

I think the gas that is being pumped on the Island comes into Nanaimo and then moved up and down the Island, so you have to wonder why our gas isn't at least as cheap as Duncan. But it never has been, and apparently never will be.

So, where is that Occupy Nanaimo group when you need them, if they want a public support 'occupation', why not protest the rip off prices at Petro-Canada in Nanaimo?

Prices above came from Gas Buddy at 8:30 AM November 23, 2011.


Santa Claus Parade Nanaimo 2011

Lions Santa Claus Parade Nov. 26

This Saturday, Nov. 26 kids will be able to see the  jolly old elf himself as he travels along Victoria Cresent, up Commercial Street and along Front Street.

The parade starts at 1:00 pm and after the parade Santa will be available for pictures and wish lists at the Conference Centre until 4:00 pm.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christmas Light Cruise Nanaimo

Nanaimo Yacht Club
Christmas Light Cruise
Dec. 3. 2011 7:00 PM

This popular event will take place this year on Saturday Dec. 3 and starts in the harbour downtown. The boats will assemble at Mark Bay (by Newcastle Island) and sail to Cameron Island and then along the waterfront, past Maffeo Sutton Park, down Newcastle Channel, circle Departure Bay and return up Newcastle Channel to the Yacht Club.

The cruise will go, rain or shine so be sure to pick out a good spot along the route to enjoy this colourful seasonal event.The event is open to all boaters, and being a Yacht Club member is not a requirement to participate. You can call 250-754-7011 for more information on the route or how you can participate.

This year Marine Rescue, a dragon boat and a Pickle boat will all be a part of the Christmas Light Cruise which usually includes 20 - 30 vessels. So make some hot chocolate, and maybe a few Nanaimo bars, grab your camera and head down early for a good spot on the route.


Nanaimo Christmas Hampers

 Program Served 4200 People Last Year

Christmas Hampers Nanaimo is a community organization formed 8 years ago by the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank and The Salvation Army of Nanaimo. We gather food and cash donations and distribute Christmas Food Hampers to the less fortunate of Nanaimo. Last year we served over 4,200 people and distributed 2,000 Christmas Hampers. Hunger in our community remains high and many people continue to visit the food bank and community meal programs to meet their basic need; Food.

The people of Nanaimo and the surrounding area are very generous to our Christmas Hamper program. Last year we received food donations of over 53,000 kg’s and enough cash donations to purchase another $40,000 of fresh food items such as; turkeys, chickens, hams, oranges, potatoes, carrots, bread, milk, cheese and eggs. We also had a substantial amount of non-perishable food to feed people in the New Year. Local food suppliers and business partners work with us to ensure we get the best value for our money and help us keep our operating costs down. We appreciate their tremendous support.

All of our funding comes from generous community efforts and with your participation we can have another successful year. We thank you for your participation and invite you to explore our website for complete information. Here you will see a list of the most wanted items for our hampers. This list will change from time to time during the season. We also have “Tips on Hosting a Food Drive” for organizations and businesses wishing to do more.

Thanks to the generous donation of Quality Foods, our home for Hamperville 2011 will be located at 867 Bruce Ave. From November 21st until Christmas, a dedicated team of almost 300 volunteers will be waiting there to answer calls and collect, sort and assemble 2,000 food hampers. Many of the volunteers have been helping at Hamperville since the beginning and every year we have new faces. It is fun, rewarding and serves a tremendous need.

Thank you to all the people in Nanaimo and area. Thank you to the sports teams, church groups, service clubs, businesses, schools and the many individuals who help us to ensure every penny of your donation goes directly to the people we serve.

All the best of the Christmas season from Hamperville Nanaimo.



Concerned Citizens of Nanaimo Cleared

It is reported in the local daily, that Const. Gary O'Brien of the RCMP says their investigation found the CCN was aware of their need to be registered and did so when it was brought to their attention.

The Local Government Act states that organizers must register with the chief election officer "as soon as reasonably possible" after collecting or spending more than $500 for a campaign.

It would seem that whoever filed the complaint likely had an axe to grind with the CCN or the candidates they supported and the same result could have occurred without the RCMP having to waste valuable resources investigating what amounts to a frivolous charge.

Welcome to Nanaimo politics at it's best. I am sure a simple phone call to the CCN would have resulted in them getting registered without having to involve the RCMP, who hopefully have better things to do with their time.


Vancouver Island Convention Center

Time To Think Out Of The Box??

A 'rut' is described as a grave, with both ends kicked out of it. That seems to be where city hall is these days with the Vancouver Island Convention Centre. That state of the art, money-sucking fantastic new building downtown credited with single-handedly  being the saviour of downtown.

While those wishing to keep their jobs (those contracted to run the place) can point to all of the delegate days they have produced and the millions of dollars this adds to the total economy, you will be hard pressed to study any convincing reports to support these claims. I would suggest, that close scrutiny would reveal that most events in this new building could be handled easily at other venues in town, some owned by the city and some private. If they were, the citizens of Nanaimo would be out from under the $1,000,000.00 rock this place imposes.

There are several reasons city hall must doggedly stick with trying to push this particular rock up a hill, one is to avoid the egg they fear that would appear on their face, should they just finally fess up, and say the whole thing was a bad idea in the first place. The other obvious reason is the fact we have this state of the art facility that has to have SOME people using it to justify even keeping the lights on. Even if those somebodies are city councillors conducting a council meeting every now and then, for which we pay rent to the operators of the building. Yup, we pay rent to use our own building.

Hail Mary or Sound Business Idea??

In what looks like a Hail Mary move of sheer desperation, city council is now drafting a tax exemption bylaw which is hoped that, if used in conjunction with free land will entice a builder to erect a hotel on the site of the vacant lot on Gordon Street. Isolated to just this one lot, the scheme might have merit, except for the fact it could simply eat into the profitability of existing hotels in town, specifically the Coast Bastion.

However, if adopted the ten year tax holiday would apply to any hotel or motel built anywhere in the city of Nanaimo providing it cost more than $2,000,000.00. The folly of that plan is giving a tax holiday to companies that would build a hotel or motel anyway, simply to satisfy market demand and make money. For example, the Ramada Inn on Terminal Avenue was built without any incentives from the city, it was just built as it should have been, to satisfy market demand, and built with private money. They are paying their share of taxes to Nanaimo, which, they would not be had this scheme been in place earlier.

Some Out of the Box Suggestions

If the end game is to make the downtown a vibrant, prosperous centre for the arts and trade and commerce perhaps some different ideas need exploring to meet that end. Follows are a few simple suggestions, from a simple fellow (me) .

1. Put that valuable piece of real estate on the open market, and let the private sector bring their money making expertise to bear and see what creative ideas they can come up with. The up side of this would be saving the taxpayer at least $1 million a year, and should allow us to pay off the mortgage along with the interest we are saddled with. The downside of this argument, is discovering our $75 million building has a fair market value of less than $20 mlllion, but if that's the way it is, that's the way it is.

2. Reduce the area being used for conventions and find creative uses for the rest of the space. City staff offices, VIU satellite campus ???

3. My personal favourite would be to turn the whole place into a REALLY UNIQUE retail centre of some kind, with such a distinctive mix of retailers and artisans that people will come on a regular basis, not just during tourist season but from the rest of Nanaimo and the Island to downtown to experience this outstanding shopping experience! Then a foot ferry from downtown to downtown could be constantly filled to overflowing with people working in Vancouver coming here to spend their much needed dollars in the local economy. The spin off would also be the making of Nanaimo into a bedroom community for Vancouver by having a viable, reliable fast ferry service whereby they can take advantage of the affordability of Nanaimo combined with the employment ability that Vancouver offers. Truly a win -- win -- win!

Regardless of how lovely our convention centre is, and how many empty rooms we have, people aren't going to choose Nanaimo over Vancouver and Victoria too many times for a convention. Honestly ... why would they??

However a truly unique, bustling retail centre will bring all of Nanaimo into the centre of town, all of the Island and then all of Vancouver and ultimately the world as our fame spreads far and wide for the delightful experience to be had visiting downtown Nanaimo's new arts and retail centre. Then we truly would be a tourist destination centre which would lead to jobs, jobs and more jobs generated by a people drawing wonder!!

Time to get out of the box, and then finally out of the rut! Time for some fresh, creative thinking which should be the natural product of our brand new, forward thinking visionaries recently elected to Nanaimo City Council.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Santa Claus Photos In Nanaimo

Woodgrove Mall

This year, as part of our 30th anniversary celebration, we’re giving away free, professional 5X7 photos with Santa the entire time he’s here, from 6 pm on Friday, November 18 right up until 3 pm on Christmas Eve (Santa has somewhere else to be that night).

Consider it a gift from our Woodgrove Centre family to your family. To check Santa's hours at Woodgrove Mall visit their website HERE.

Nanaimo North Town Centre

Country Club Mall


Photos are taken with a digital camera, and your prints are available within a few minutes of your visit with Santa.
Photo Times:
Monday - Saturday
10:30am - 1:00pm
2:00pm - 4:00pm
5:00pm - 7:30pm*

11:00am - 1:30PM
2:00PM - 4:00PM
*Evening sittings start on Wednesday, December 1st.


Grey Cup Game = Busy BC Ferries

Click Image To Purchase Tickets
BC Ferries Recommends Reservations

BC Ferries expects heavy traffic between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island
on Sunday, Nov. 27, as football fans from around the coast cheer on the BC Lions at the Grey Cup Game at BC Place.

Reservations are strongly recommended for customers travelling to and from the football game to ensure they catch their desired sailing. Passengers travelling to the game without a reservation are advised to travel one sailing earlier than necessary to avoid disappointment.
Each vessel is licensed to carry a maximum number of passengers and customers are reminded that foot passenger overloads can happen at peak times. On game day, overloads may occur in the morning at Swartz Bay, Departure Bay and Duke Point, and in the evening at Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay.

On Nov. 27, BC Ferries is adding an extra sailing from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay at 10:00 pm to accommodate customers returning to Victoria from the Grey Cup. For Nanaimo and mid-Island residents, there is a regularly scheduled 10:45 pm sailing from Tsawwassen to Duke Point.
Customers travelling to and from Nanaimo are also reminded that sailings between Duke Point and Tsawwassen tend to be less congested than sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay at peak times.


Democracy Is About Participation

Democracy Is Rule Of The Majority

Merriam Webster defines democracy:

a: government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections. 
One of the fundamental basics of a functioning democracy is that it is the governing by the people expressed by the majority. A 'simple' majority is 50% + 1, which while technically a majority is not an expression of overwhelming support by a group of people. While a simple majority may be an acceptable way of deciding where you are going for lunch, it is inadequate when deciding issues of major importance. 

Less Than A Majority Turnout Means An Illegitimate Election
In order for democracy to be truly functioning, since it is based on the rule of the majority, it should be required that at the very least a majority of the people actually participate by voting. You can debate on the ways and means of making that happen, but unless and until the majority have actually voted then democracy is simply not being engaged. Anything less than a turnout of the majority of eligible voters would render the results illegitimate.


***NEW*** "Your Letters Page"

Your Letters & Opinions Invited

Starting today you will notice a new tab under the blog title, called 'YOUR LETTERS' which is a new page devoted to your letters and opinions. Your submissions will be simply cut and pasted, typos and all, so be sure to proof read before sending along.

I will not edit for brevity or grammar, but will not print anything malicious or slanderous or in general bad taste. You are free to submit a letter expressing whatever is on your mind from local events, politics, what you've been up to or anything else you think others might enjoy reading.

When you submit your email be sure to include your full name (first and last), address and a phone number. The address and phone number will not be printed but used to verify source.

I hope this page becomes a popular spot to freely express your thoughts and opinions and that by sharing what's on your mind we all will be enriched.

Thank You and Good Writing!!!


Candidate for Council, Rod Lomas has submitted an open letter to the electorate of Nanaimo, which is the first to appear on the YOUR LETTERS page.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Mayor and Council Nanaimo 2011

Nanaimo 2011 Municipal Election Results

Election Results For Nanaimo Municipal Election 2011

Mayor John Ruttan

Bill Bestwick
Diane Brennan
Jim Kipp
George Anderson
Ted Greves
Diana Johnstone
Fred Pattje
Bill McKay


Based on the preliminary vote count the number of eligible voters participating in this civic election fell a full 5% from the 31.6% turnout in 2008 to a very disappointing 26.6%!

This means we have elected a Mayor who only has 13.9% of the total eligible vote. We call this democracy?? We should be ashamed of ourselves.

This also means we have elected members of council with less than 10% of the total eligible vote. In fact most of council have been elected with about 10% of the total eligible vote.

My Prediction:

With the mandate of a 14% vote I predict we will see a push for a downtown hotel at ANY price, an even sweeter deal (costing us $1 million now) to the operators of the VICC, a foot ferry at ANY price and all this will be administered from a shiny new staff office.

Be prepared for the 'pitch' for a new dam to supply water, which is as much for filling up cruise ships and maybe supplying Lantzville as it is for the needs of Nanaimo residents.

Considerable cost overruns on the new water treatment plant, with lots of excuses. Increased cost of garbage collection for the 'green bin' program etc.

There will be no Core Reviews and Zero Based Budgeting will just be another pipe dream. Oh, yeah and expect one or two multi million dollar garages (aka firehalls) to house our shiny new firetrucks, which every now and then actually go to a fire!!

Look forward to even more in camera decisions and very little transparency when it comes to how the new Economic Development Corp. spends tax dollars.

And if the blind shall lead the blind...............