Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Popular Fun Spot Closed

Cyber City Makes Way For Fitness Centre

The popular fun spot for the younger crowd (not old guys like me) with its arcade, laser tag and go carts closed it's doors at the end of Dec. 2011.

The area Cyber City has occupied for years has become one of Nanaimo's hotspots for increased development with Rexall Drugs opening their new large outlet just across the street and a new major grocery store opening practically next door.

Whether Cyber City was filling a market niche in Nanaimo which was expanding or contracting I don't know, but it did seem to offer a choice when some of the younger folk asked "what can we do in Nanaimo?".

Being an old fellow, the business had the same appeal as bungee jumping........ :^)


Shore Power For Cruise Ships Unlikely

The local Daily reports that Port Authority head Mr. Dumas says it is unlikely the NPA will take advantage of a federally funded (taxpayer) program which would pick up 50% of the cost to make shore power available for cruise ships.

The Port Authority's portion of the estimated $4 million price tag would be $2 million to make shore power available to visiting cruise ships. Mr. Dumas is quoted as saying the NPA is not convinced the addition of shore power would be cost-effective.


Things On The Net That Make Ya' Smile

When You Run Out Of Duct Tape....
There's Always Bungee Cords!


Retaining Wall Gains International Acclaim

ABC Precast & Ready Mix Limited has received a second award of excellence this week.
This second award providing international recognition for their retaining wall project in Mill Bay.

Each year, over 130 Redi-Rock manufacturers worldwide compete to have their projects chosen for the prestigious “Rocky Awards.” The winning project for 2011 selected by Redi-Rock International was a 130-foot long seaside retaining wall featuring two 10-foot high tiers of locally manufactured blocks. In between the two tiers are platforms: one houses a putting green with a remarkable ocean view; the other, an outdoor kitchen for entertaining.

This project and the work of ABC Precast will be featured in trade magazines around the world.

“This award not only demonstrates the exceptional quality of workmanship of our local businesses, but also provides an opportunity to showcase central Vancouver Island globally,” says Susan Cudahy, CEO of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation. 

“It feels great for a local manufacturer to earn international recognition” says Brian Fillmore, who heads up ABC’s Redi-Rock sales here on Vancouver Island.  Brian will be heading to San Antonio Texas on February 4th to receive the prestigious international award.

ABC Precast & Ready Mix Limited was also the recently named the Manufacturer of the Year at award celebrations held for Vancouver Island.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation

New home for Nanaimo Economic Development

The Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation (NEDC) has kicked off the new year from its new downtown location at 104 Front Street. The recent move from City Hall completes the transition of the service delivery model from a municipal government department to a separate, arm's length corporation.

The visitor servicing function previously undertaken by Tourism Nanaimo will also be managed from the new location. NEDC contact information is listed below and staff can be reached at 250-591-1551.


Grey Cup In Nanaimo For One Hour

Get Your Picture Taken With Grey Cup
But You Have To Rise Early

Hornets Rugby Club  Dover Road,
Tues. Jan. 31, 2012
7:30 - 8:30 AM

For More Information visit YOUR CUP website HERE.


Nanaimo Mixed-Use Oceanfront Lot For Sale

5 Acre Development Opportunity $6,000,000.00
1961 Zorkin Road, Nanaimo

Colliers International is advertising the mixed-use 5 acre parcel on Zorkin Road with the following parital description:

1961 Zorkin Road is ideally located in the City of Nanaimo overlooking the Strait of Georgia on Vancouver Island’s southeast coast within 3 km of Nanaimo’s downtown core and 110 km north of the City of Victoria. The site benefits from direct, unobstructed views of Newcastle Island Provincial Park, Departure Bay and the Coastal Mountains of the Lower Mainland. In addition, this rare location is surrounded by a variety of amenities including marine based retailers and services, marinas and restaurants. The subject property has convenient access to all major forms of infrastructure and transportation; Departure Bay (BC Ferries) ferry terminal, Trans Canada Highway via Brechin Road, and the Nanaimo float plane terminals.

The subject property comprises an area of 144,184 SF (3.31 acres) of leased foreshore and 216,057 SF (4.96 acres) of fee simple upland and occupies a high visibility location on Zorkin Road.

More complete information about this unique Nanaimo offering can be found at the Colliers website HERE. 

Comment: Maybe the newly formed Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation should consider purchasing this property with an eye to developing my idea of creating a Geriatric Theme Park. Killer location......waterfront, next to BC Ferry and a float plane service. The perfect place for Canada's aging population to come and spend their OAS.


Nanaimo Emergency Reception Centres

Where do you go in a large scale emergency if you can no longer stay in your home?

The City of Nanaimo has four designated Reception Centres for residents in the case of an emergency and in a situation where they can no longer stay in their home.

If you can stay in your home or location it is highly recommended that you remain there as you do not know what you will encounter if you venture out.  However, if your home or location is not habitable these centres are designed to provide basic necessities: food, water and shelter when large scale evacuation of residents occurs due to emergency situations. Examples include, but are not limited to, displacement of residents due to fire, earthquakes and hazardous material spills.

Nanaimo Fire Rescue Department has a team of volunteers that will set up and manage these centres in emergency situations and dependent  upon the type of disaster they may not open immediately as they take time to set up and for resources to arrive.

The City will communicate which centres will be opening through various means dependent upon the situation. If communications infrastructure is still available, information will be disseminated over local media. If communications are not in place, other methods will be used to communicate with residents. Dependent upon need, additional centres will be opened and the public will be advised.

The four designated centres are:
Note: addresses are linked to map showing location of the centre nearest you.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Siskins Don't Play Nice....

Pine Siskins Don't Share Very Well Either

The recent touch of cold weather with snow for a few days resulted in much more activity at our bird feeders than normal, which actually sees lots of feathered friends any given day.

One of the less popular visitors are the Pine Siskins, which I dislike nearly as much as the Starlings. My dislike is twofold, firstly they travel in HUGE flocks, at one time no less than 100 descended on the feeders during the snow. That number has dwindled, but there will still be 30+ anytime they do show up.

The second reason for my dislike of these little fellows, is their ATTITUDE, which as the above photos show, is extended to each other, and not just 'birds of another feather'. I am sure that some of these feisty fellows expend as much energy driving others away from the food source as they gain from eating. They are also not intimidated by birds twice their size either and some of the bossier ones will chase off the much larger Toews.

If they arrived in lesser numbers, and left some of the attitude behind, they could be welcome as they are quite colorful with a striking flash of yellow, and they behave as if the bird seed had been laced with speed or at the very least large doses of caffeine..... GRIN


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Canadians Living In LA LA Land

Public Sector Wages & Benefits Simply Not Affordable
Neither Is Old Age Pension

I feel a rant coming on, so if you'd sooner read something telling you how wonderful everything is, you'll need to go elsewhere. The reason for this little ramble is not to preach doom and gloom, but rather face our current reality with an eye to keep it from descending into true doom and gloom.

Locally our public sector employees working for the city were awarded a 6% increase in their wages over the next three years, which in itself seems reasonable. Of course when you consider the pre-raise level of wages and benefits enjoyed by those fortunate enough to have a city job, it seems less reasonable. As could be expected the local fourth estate buys into the line that we need to pay all these high wages in order to keep our good city staffers. Question? Where do you really think they are going to go, given the fact there are 4 unemployed people in the province for every job available?

This raise will no doubt result in at least a matching raise for non-union staffers who already enjoy wages and benefits the rest of us paying the freight can only dream of. Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting we all engage in a race to the bottom, but reality cleary shows, the rest of Nanaimo simply can NOT afford to keep paying this level of wages. The gap between taxpayer and tax harvester has grown to an unsustainable level in recent years and something has to give.

The recent shift from industrial and commercial taxation levels, with the reduction in those areas shifting to the residential tax base, is a clear example of how over-taxation has finally hit one wall...... the business sector. The reality is, that businesses will simply move elsewhere, or close completely if they can not earn enough to support ever-increasing taxes. Residents on the other hand simply have to suck it up, and in some cases make another trip to the food bank after they have forked over the extra $100 in increased taxes this year.

Past 'Prosperity' Was But An Illusion

Long gone are the days when we can believe the lies or misinformation foisted on society by politicians and union leaders seeking to occupy the seat of power voter support provides. For years auto workers felt they could earn 'over the moon' wages with equally as unrealistic benefits packages forever. Reality is, that the North American auto industry would have completely shut down if not for massive taxpayer bailouts. It is still not clear whether those bailouts will actually have saved the auto industry, or simply postponed the day it will be laid to rest forever.

A little closer to home, how many guys and gals who worked at Harmac during the Gravy Years are getting all the pension and benefits they felt they were entitled to??

The forestry industry and much of Canadian manufacturing suffered the consequence of believing the same lines, peddled by politicians and labour leaders. Yes, I am also sure that greedy industrialists have their share of blame for our current economic mess. But at the end of the day, there has to be something of real value backstopping our economy or it is simply an illusion that we can enjoy standards of living previously reserved for Royalty, while making over-priced widgets of all kinds.

We are now faced with the reality that our Old Age Security system is seriously flawed with it's cost increasing by 32% from 2010 - 2015. The fund itself was paying out $36.5 Billion in 2010 and will be facing a bill of $108 Billion by 2030. This 'pension' is not currently funded, which means those future benefits will have to be paid by those who are actually working during this period. If all those good paying jobs supporting future OAS are in the public sector, funded by the taxpayers......... well I'm sure if you understand Mr. Ponzi's idea, you will see how it applies here.


Post-Secondary Funding Available

 Nearly $300,000 Available
For Nanaimo-Ladysmith Students

Students Encouraged to Apply for Awards, Scholarships and Bursaries from the Schools Foundation $290,000 in Post-Secondary Funds Available 

The Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation Awards booklet and application for Nanaimo and Ladysmith secondary students is now online. This year there are over 300 awards, bursaries and scholarships, totaling over $290,000 for students of all interests, abilities and academic levels. 

Applications and further information can be found at www.nlsf.ca under the “Awards” tab. The deadline to apply is Friday, February 17th, 2012. 

“The NLSF scholarships, awards and bursaries offer a wide range of categories for students to chose from,” said Erin van Steen, Executive Director, Nanaimo-Ladysmith Schools Foundation “There are opportunities for students who are active in the community, excel in sports, have a specific study area they are pursuing or who have a financial need. We encourage students to apply for as many opportunities that are appropriate for them.”


Friday, January 27, 2012

ABC Precast Of Nanaimo Wins Award

ABC Precast 
Manufacturer Of The Year

ABC Precast & Ready Mix Limited has been awarded the MANUFACTURER OF THE YEAR award sponsored by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of BC, Hayes Stewart Little Chartered Accountants and RBC Royal Bank . The ceremonies were held on the evening of January 26, 2012 at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria. 

AJ Hustins, General Manager of ABC Precast & Ready Mix Limited said “On behalf of our entire team at ABC I am honored to receive such a prestigious award from the business community on Vancouver Island.”

The Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards are celebrated as an annual opportunity to highlight some of the biggest and brightest starts of the year.

NEDC CEO Offers Congratulations

“It is wonderful to see a local Nanaimo firm receive this type of acknowledgement of the excellent work they do. Along with exhibiting manufacturing excellence ABC Precast & Ready Mix is a strong community supporter and a valued corporate citizen. Congratulations to all,” said Susan Cudahy, CEO of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation.


VICC Sudsidy To Reduce?

Vancouver Island Conference Centre
Delegate Days Increases To 32,000 In 2012

According to an advertisement in the 'Nanaimo Magazine' Feb. 2012 issue the number of delegate days booked at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre has increased by approximately 225% to 32,000 from only 13,919 in 2011. It seems that powerhouse manager Denise Tacon is putting Nanaimo on the conference map!

Considering the Nanaimo taxpayer subsidized the company operating the centre last year by approximately $1,000,000 (not a precise figure) when they only had rental and catering revenue from approximately 14,000 delegate days a 225% increase must mean the centre is turning a considerably greater profit for the company now. In turn, this greater profit should provide a considerable saving for the Nanaimo taxpayer via a reduced subsidy.

The amount of the saving isn't known at this time, but I have asked Mayor Ruttan to respond letting me know what the saving to Nanaimo taxpayers will be resulting from this 225% increase in attendance at the centre.

If I am correct this is also the year, the current contract with the management company running the centre is up for renewal, and it will be interesting to see if the shrewd managers at city hall will be able to negotiate a much better deal in the new contract. Did you know, the city actually pays the management company a fee, every time they use the VICC?

Stay tuned for more details as they are made available.


Moorecroft Open House Feb. 11, 2012

RDN To Host Moorecroft Open House
Local residents can get involved in the next phase of the Moorecroft Regional Park Management Plan at an Open House on Saturday, February 11. Participants will have the opportunity to comment on three different strategies for managing the park, as well as a draft park vision, management principles, and goals. The event is scheduled for 12 noon to 4pm at Kennedy Lodge in Moorecroft Park, located at the end of Stewart Road in Nanoose Bay.
"Moorecroft Regional Park is a beautiful place to explore the local waterfront surrounded by mature forests and wetlands, and we're committed to keeping it that way," said RDN Chair Joe Stanhope. "I encourage residents throughout the region to share their ideas and comments as we develop the Moorecroft Management Plan."

The Plan will guide operations, development, and stewardship of Moorecroft, based on a comprehensive analysis of property values and public and stakeholder consultation. RDN staff is working with O2 Planning and Design, the Nature Trust of BC, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada to facilitate and oversee the Plan, which is scheduled to be complete in November 2012. The Plan process was initiated in fall 2011.

Following the open house, residents will also be invited to participate in an online survey and provide feedback using an interactive mapping tool at www.rdn.b.ca.

The Regional District of Nanaimo and The Nature Trust of British Columbia acquired the park, formerly known as Camp Moorecroft, from BC Conference of the United Church of Canada on March 2, 2011 at a cost of $4.8 million. It is currently open for day use from 7am to 9pm daily.

For more information about the Feb. 11 Open House and other opportunities for public engagement, please Click Here, email moorecroft@rdn.bc.ca or contact Kelsey Cramer, RDN Regional Parks Planner, at 250 248-3252 or 1-888-828-2069.


VIHA Reducing Harm To Addicts

VIHA Expands Harm Reduction Program

In an article in the Daily, Darrell Bellaart explains the reasons for VIHA increasing the number of places local addicts may get condoms, syringes, crack-pipe mouthpieces and other materials.

The article explains that the program is geared to slow the spread of diseases such as Hep C and encourage additcts to seek medical help.

The article says the goal of the program is to reduce addicts' harm and to relieve life pressures that tend to feed the vicious cycle of addiction, while at the same time reducing the harm to society from increased crime, policing and health care costs.

Perhaps it is time for society to simply admit there are some among us who likely will sooner or later die as a result of their dependency on drugs and rather than sentencing them to a life of misery and crime, should make safe alternatives available at a reasonable cost. It is highly unlikely that the cost of condoms and crack-pipe mouthpieces is what drives an addict into crime to support their habit.

I would suspect the righteous among us would oppose the proposal of taking profit out of the drug business, but also suspect that the criminals and perhaps even the legal system might be opposed to such a 'job killer' being supported.

It is hoped that VIHA is not making the central island any more attractive to drug addicts than other jurisdictions in the country, as our climate and welfare system already makes our area quite attractive to many.


Quinsam Mine Permit Granted

Quinsam continues to provide hundreds of jobs on Island

CAMBPELL RIVER – Quinsam Mine, a coal mine located on central Vancouver Island, has been awarded a Mines Act amendment permit to extend its mining operations.

The Quinsam Mine will continue to provide more than 500 direct and indirect jobs in the Campbell River area, announced Minister of Energy and Mines Rich Coleman.

Quinsam Mine, the only underground coal mine in B.C., will produce more than 500,000 tonnes of thermal coal a year. The mine started production in 1986. It has in excess of 40 million tonnes of coal resources, and is owned and operated by Hillsborough Resources Limited.

Located 20 kilometres west of Campbell River, Quinsam Mine provides wages and benefits for about 140 employees living on Vancouver Island totalling more than $14 million per year. Quinsam is traditionally a large supplier to the cement industry in the Lower Mainland, and also exports coal to customers offshore.

Quinsam Mine is committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety and environmental compliance. Among its other commitments to sustainability, it is dedicated to developing and implementing techniques to recycle old waste materials and convert them to usable products. Furthermore, it was the first mine to be permitted to dispose of coarse rock refuse underground in old mine workings.

As part of ‘Canada Starts Here: The BC Jobs Plan’, the Province expects to see eight new mines and another nine mining expansions operational in British Columbia by 2015. This is the second mine expansion announced and the first on Vancouver Island. 

Provincial Government Press Release 


Nanaimo Cruise Ship Schedule 2012

Norwegian Pearl May 5, 2012,  7:00 am – 5:00 pm
The World July 17 - 19, 2012,  8:00 am – 6:00 pm

Celebrity Millennium September 15, 2012 7:00 am – 5:00 pm

Celebrity Century September 26, 2012 7:00 am – 5:00 pm

Sapphire Princess September 30, 2012 7:00 am – 6:00 pm


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Broken Water Main Causes Damage

 Water Damaged Sidewalk Closed

Construction workers at the Port Place Mall yesterday closed parts of Front Street when they broke a city water main that runs through the property.

At the height of the accident yesterday afternoon, Front Street was closed from Promenade to Wharf Street for a few hours as city crews dealt with the problem. Nanaimo Fire Rescue was also on hand as there was some concern a gas line could also have been damaged, it was not.

As of now, it is not known who is responsible for the event which has undermined an area of sidewalk along Front Street and while it is not apparent that amount of flooding could also cause issues with the road bed in that area. Crews will monitor the situation in coming days to make sure there are no other issues.

This is likely a case of the contractor not knowing where the water main was, either because they did not have an accurate 'locate' to work with, or perhaps city works are not exactly certain where all the water lines are. Last year there was an issue across the street when there was some difficulty locating the water main for the new Gabriola Ferry Terminal hydrant.


Things On The Net That Make Ya' Smile

No Helmet? No Problem?
The Motorcycle Equivalent of Airbags!


Motion Defeated

Allen's Motion Defeated 6 - 2 

The local daily reports that the motion requiring criminal record checks for school board candidates was solidly defeated this past Tuesday.

I can only speculate what kind of Pandora's Box would be opened if there was a serious movement to have all elected officials submit to a criminal record check with the results being made public. Trustee Brennan is reportedly going to table a motion requiring elected trustees to submit to a criminal record check , with the results being kept confidential.

The idea of keeping the results confidential would seem to defeat Ms. Allen's purpose of full disclosure BEFORE someone gets elected to the board. If records are to be open to the public before an election, then surely they should also be after someone is elected.

Yes, indeed, a Pandora's Box I doubt many will really want to see open. Once open, what possible reason could you have for keeping the results private? Isn't a criminal record a matter of public record? Anyone coming before the courts and convicted of a criminal offense, unless a minor becomes a matter of public knowledge.

No, this is one of those sleeping dogs, the vast majority would gladly see left lie.


Hospice Opening Second Location

 Seeks Volunteers For New Location

Nanaimo Community Hospice Society’s  Hospice Thrift Shoppe is more than just a store where the public can purchase gently-used or often new items.

It also offers a friendly and safe place for individuals who have experienced the loss of a loved one to volunteer, meet others and find healing.

More than 80 volunteers from a variety of backgrounds have found their way to hospice for a variety of reasons. And there is now an opportunity for more people to take part.

Hospice is recruiting volunteers for its second shop in Bowen Centre at 1925 Bowen Rd.
The shop, opening this spring, features electronics, garden tools, books, household goods, clothing  and more.

For more information, or to apply for a volunteer position, please drop by the Hospice Thrift Shoppe at 5-4286 Departure Bay Rd. at the corner of Norwell Drive or call 250-758-8886.
For more information, please go to www.nanaimohospiceshoppe.com.


Nanaimo Museum Feature Exhibit

New Feature Exhibit 
Our Feathered Friends
Mon. to Sat., Feb. 3 to May 21 2012, 10am - 5pm

Why are feathers important to understanding birds? Why do some remain close to home year-round and others migrate for thousands of kilometers? Answers to these questions are an integral part of Our Feathered Friends, a travelling exhibition from Ottawa’s Canadian Museum of Nature. The exhibition ‘takes flight’ at the Nanaimo Museum, from February 3 to May 21, 2012 and is suitable for all ages.

The exhibition’s display units and graphics provide an introduction to birds and birdwatching. “Visitors’ skill when identifying local birds will be enhanced via the exceptional photography of Ralph Hocken and study specimens loaned from VIU’s Museum of Natural History, “said curator David Hill-Turner. “Novice birders will find the exhibition and programs very helpful in learning more about the hobby”.

Public programmes offered as part of the exhibition will appeal to various birding interests. They include: a photography contest, Urban Bird tours, birding and nature photography presentations and ecology programs for elementary school students. Please contact Aimee Greenaway at program@nanaimomuseum.ca for more information on these programs.

Come along to the workshops and demonstrations, try your hand at the oriental art of Origami and even learn to prepare a meal for your favourite backyard bird. Using photos, specimens and video, learn what makes birds special, how they soar and glide and how to identify them. More than 400 species of birds have been identified in BC, more than any other province in Canada.

Whether you are an indoor or outdoor birdwatcher you will find something of interest in this traveling exhibit, Our Feathered Friends at Nanaimo Museum.

This exhibition is sponsored by THE BACKYARD Wildbird and Nature Store.


Nanaimo Urban Bird Tours

February 11, March 10, April 14, May 5, 2012
1:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Kevin Storey, experienced Nanaimo Museum tour guide and local birder, will take visitors on an urban bird walk. The tours are a unique combination of birding and historical walking tour that will provide a glimpse into Nanaimo's past while sighting many urban and shoreline birds that reside downtown.

The tours take place on the second Saturday of the month from 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm on February 11, March 10, April 14, and May 5. The cost is $15 per person and pre-registration and payment is required. Space is limited so call soon to book your spot. The tours depart from the Nanaimo Museum. Please contact Aimee Greenaway at program@nanaimomuseum.ca for more information or to reserve your spot.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Annual Quilter's Bee Jan.29

The Nanaimo Quilter's Guild will be holding it's annual quilt bee this coming Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Oliver Woods Community Centre at 6000 Oliver Road Nanaimo. The Bee will be held from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

All quilts will be donated to the Nanaimo Haven Society. The guild meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month at Brechin United Church on Estevan Road, from 1:00 pm - 7:00 pm.

For more information about the Nanaimo Quilters' Guild you can visit their website HERE.


Mt Washington Powder Alert!

Snow Information
Overnight: 1 cm
Snowbase*: 376 cm
24 Hrs: 17 cm
48 Hrs: 61 cm

Snow Conditions: Powder Alert - Powder Alert


Who Watches Nanaimo Spending??

An Example Of How YOUR Tax Dollar$ Are Spent

At the City of Nanaimo council meeting on January 23, 2012 on staff's recommendation council approved awarding a contract to MWH Canada Inc for preliminary engineering services for South Fork II Dam. The value of the contracted amount is $460,000.00.

Sounds like a reasonable amount as soon as you say 'engineering services' which we all know are in a stratosphere of their own.

Now for the part that is a prime example of why city hall will never be serious about controlling spending. In addition to the agreed amount of $460,000, city staff recommended that council approve another $100,000 for a contingency should it be necessary to do other investigations. In other words, they had a contractor agree to do preliminary engineering work within established parameters and then have volunteered to give them another $100,000 just in case they may need more money to do the study!!

That would be akin to me or you hiring a contractor to give me a price to build a garage, and after getting a price, offer to pay the contractor another 20% if they thought they needed to!!

Only Councilors Bestwick, Kipp and McKay were opposed to the $100,000 contingency, with the balance of council thinking it was a sound financial decision.

Just wait until this same bunch starts awarding the $65+ million contract to build the new filtration plant.... let's see $65 million plus another 20% contingency just for good measure......


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Celebrate Black History On Vancouver Island

An Evening of Art & Entertainment
Thursday Feb 2nd
Nanaimo Museum
Doors open at 4:00pm
$10 tickets
Entertainment by Rodrigo Figueroa
Take a look at the Black History surrounding Vancouver Island with a new exhibit by the Nanaimo African Heritage Society. Come share the experience, appetizers and live music!


Nanaimo Taxation Excessive

Cracks Beginning To Show 
In Ability To Keep Paying Tax Increases

The recent effort by the city of Nanaimo to attract a new hotel to downtown Nanaimo by offering tax incentives is yet another example of how some tax sectors have paid all they can afford to pay. The move to reduce industrial tax rates over the coming years is yet another sign of the negative impacts of excessive taxation that we have become reliant on in past decades.

Unless city councilors wake up, the same result will happen in the residential sector if continually taxing and spending is not brought into line, we are heading for an over taxation disaster in Nanaimo. We are headed for another 16% (at least) residential tax increase over the next four years, 20% increase in water rates in the same time period and who knows what other 'surprises' are lurking at city hall, waiting to be sprung on the already over stretched taxpayer.

Municipalities have heard loud and clear from business and industry, that they are killing the goose that lays the golden egg with over taxation and municipalities are being FORCED to respond, or risk driving business out of town altogether. With the reality that business and industrial taxes must reduce, local government who are as dependent on taxing and spending as the drug addict is dependent on their next fix, have only one other source for their 'fix'. That is the unorganized, nearly naked goose who think their elected officials are looking out for them.

The truth is, councilors just can't wrap their heads around the concept that this gravy train is nearly off the rails and the days of living in la la land where you simply raise more taxes to fund your latest boondoggle are pretty much over.

All senior levels of government are wrestling with getting a grip on out of control spending, but local government on the advice of city hall management are still labouring under the illusion that the residential tax purse has no bottom.

City Launches Strategic Planning Initiative

At its regular meeting on Monday, January 23, 2012, City Council voted unanimously to launch a strategic planning initiative.  The consulting firm of Rethink (West) will assist with the process.   Rethink is a Ladysmith-based company with significant experience in municipal strategic planning. 

The strategic planning process will be a comprehensive exercise, including a review of the community vision, interviews with community leaders, a strategic planning blog, a public survey, and the establishment of task teams to develop action plans for implementation.

Jim Kipp, Chair of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, said, “a strategic plan is a guiding document that provides a long-term vision.  The process will help to align City activities, mobilize available resources, and ultimately to clarify, measure and achieve results in support of community well-being.”

“I am looking forward to engaging the community in a visioning process that should reflect the desires and aspirations of all of Nanaimo’s citizens, “said Mayor John Ruttan, “The only way to do this is to get everyone involved in defining the vision and then supporting it as we move forward into the future.”

The process is expected to take about 6 months, with consulting fees of approximately $100,000, an amount that had previously been put in the budget.  Facility rental for community workshops is expected to cost an additional $20,000.  

(City Hall Press Release)


Family Cut Energy Use By 50%

Belbin Family Reduced Energy Usage By 50%
Come And Hear How They Did It
Energy Solutions for Vancouver Island (Society) is pleased to present the Nanaimo family that reduced their energy usage by 50% in a national competition (they came in second in all of Canada!)
Sunday February 5, 2012 @2:45 p.m
Brechin United Church, 1998 Estevan Rd. Nanaimo
Admission is FREE
How did this family reduce their energy usage, including travel, by 50%? How is it that their family life actually improved (and has remained better since)? What motivated them to do this? Their presentation promises to be informative, interesting, and engaging. A very engaging family and compelling story.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Strategic Planning Consultant Contract

Nanaimo City Council Approves $121,400 Contract

Council upon city staff recommendation has approved the awarding of a contract to Rethink (West) Incorporated to develop a strategic plan to guide the city of Nanaimo forward.

City manager Mr. Kenning urged council to approve the proposal. In the draft city of Nanaimo Financial Plan he stated:

When staff looked at core review work done in other communities, one of the frequent recommendations of the consultant hired to undertake the review is that Council engage in a strategic planning process. The reason to do this is because without a strategic plan it is virtually impossible to structure an organization and decide on what priorities it should focus on (and what priorities, if any, it should stop putting resources to). In my view, there is no point doing a core review without first undertaking a strategic plan. The strategic plan will provide the necessary guidance as to the community‟s priorities to provide direction to any follow-up organizational or core review. Only when you know what you want to accomplish as an organization can you then address the question about how and when you want to get there. I therefore strongly urge Council to support this $100,000 funding allocation.

I have put in bold type the parts of Mr. Kenning's rationale I found interesting which supported the developing of a strategic plan for the city.

It does raise a disturbing question however:

(Remember, this is the reason given by the city manager for spending $121,400 to develop a strategic plan.)

Am I the only one wondering how the $160,000,000.00 corporation of the city of Nanaimo, with it's 700+ employees and a payroll in excess of $55,000,000.00 has been structured to date WITHOUT A STRATEGIC PLAN!!!

It makes the mind wobble !


Nanaimo Financial Plan

Any More Surprises??

About this time every year city staff and city council present the Nanaimo taxpayers with a 'draft' five year financial plan. Up until the final plan is adopted in May the public is invited to offer input directly at city council meetings.

Right about now a common refrain coming from city councilors and city staff goes something like: "we are doing our very best to hold the line on city taxes, but taxpayers must realize that it is they who are demanding the high level of services and they have to be funded by taxes", the average taxpayer is then invited to make suggestions as to which of these valued services they would like to see cut. Of course no one wants the basics like water, sewer, garbage pick up, fire protection or police protection reduced and council would like you to believe those are your only options.

They never mention that over 60% of every tax dollar collected in Nanaimo is used to pay staff wages and benefits. They also never say that sometimes, hidden within the draft financial plan are planned expenditures they don't want the general public to know about until after the fact.
For example last year at this time, the draft financial plan that came before the public made no mention of the the fact that $16 million was earmarked to build a new Annex (shiny new office for city staff), an amount that would equal the planned tax increase for 5 years.

Had city council asked the Nanaimo taxpayer if they wanted to build a new Annex or see their taxes remain the same for the next five years, we may still have decided to build the Annex, or we may not have a need to raise our taxes for the next 4 - 5 years. However, we will never know, as the last city council and city staff had no intention of letting the Nanaimo taxpayer know how they intended to spend YOUR money.

Only time will tell if this new financial plan contains any similar 'surprises' which will only be revealed after another of city council's famous in-camera meetings.


Colourful Backyard Visitor

Brightly Plumed Thrush

The snow of the last few days has seen more than the usual activity at the feeders I have in our backyard. During the days the ground was snow covered there were at the very least 200 birds taking turns at the two feeders outside our kitchen window.

While the Thrush above is not a brand new visitor, there were no less than four of them visiting over the past few days. Watching bird behaviour at the feeders sheds new light on the old expression 'pecking order' as clearly some birds were never taught that it was nice to share.

Now that the green has returned the number of visitors has returned pretty much to normal however two Thrush were still stopping by yesterday. They certainly make a bright addition to an otherwise cloudy day.


Nanaimo City Council Meeting Jan. 23, 2012

Nanaimo City Council Meeting
Monday, January 23, 2012 - 7:00 PM
Shaw Auditorium
Vancouver Island Convention Centre

Democracy Works When The Public Stays Involved
It Is Too Important To Leave To Politicians

Dealing With 2012 - 2016
Financial Plan
Tax Increases Planned 16%
Water Rates Increase 25%

Attending in person 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.


Friday, January 20, 2012

When Countries Go Broke!

Confusing Language??

This story in the Financial Post is not talking about hairstylists in the nation of Greece, it is referring to the fact that people who loaned Greece money they thought would be repaid will likely be getting about 30 cents back for every dollar they loaned them.

The new bond will likely be for 30 years with no repayments for 10 years, which really means you still might be lucky to ever see a real penny repaid.

So what is the lesson from all this?? In my humble, untrained opinion, the world financiers and economists are just making this stuff (insert expletive) as they go along. When you or I can borrow mortgage money at 2.99% and countries in Europe are paying 6% and far more, something is seriously wrong.

This is an example of what happens when you spend more than you earn, and just keep wracking up the debt. While we are not as messed up as Greece, as a nation we are seriously in the hole, and this idea that as long as you can afford the payments, without paying down the principle will ensure that we are always a nation of slaves to whomever we owe the money.

It is also an example of what happens when far too many people work for the government and far too few people have to pay their wages. Canada, should be paying attention to this lesson as we become less and less a nation of bosses and workers and more and more a nation of taxpayers and tax harvesters.


Bastion City Wanderers

Bastion City Wanderers Volkssport Club
Saturday January 21st 
Registration 9:45 AM
Lobby Howard Johnston Hotel
More Information 250-756-9796

The Bastion City Wanderers from Nanaimo, BC, are part of the Canadian Volkssport Federation which are non-profit walking clubs, with activities in all provinces and territories across Canada.


Nanaimo Orchid Society Meeting

Orchid Culture
Presented by Marilyn Light
January 21st, 2012, 12:00 Noon
Harewood Activity Centre
195 4th Street, Nanaimo


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Winter Storm Warning Issued

Snow Mixed with Freezing Rain

The following warning was issued by Environment Canada at 10:55 am PST Thursday Jan. 19, 2012.

Snowfall amounts from 5 to 15 cm are expected to be mixed with freezing rain tonight and Friday morning. This is a warning that dangerous winter weather conditions are expected or occurring in these regions. Monitor weather conditions..Listen for updated statements.

An Arctic ridge of high pressure over the British Columbia interior is producing strong outflow winds through coastal valleys and inlets. The strong outflow winds in combination with very cold air are producing wind chill values exceeding minus 20 degrees for much of the BC coast with values ranging from minus 35 to 40 reported on the north coast. Wind chill values over the south coast will increase to above minus 20 later today. A significant winter storm with snow, areas of strong winds and possible freezing rain is expected tonight and Friday. Snow will begin over Haida Gwaii, Central Coast - coastal sections and North Coast - coastal sections tonight where 10 to 15 cm will fall by Friday morning. A further 10 cm is expected for North Coast - coastal sections on Friday. In addition very strong outflow winds gusting to 90 km/h combined with new snow will create blizzard conditions over North Coast - inland sections tonight through Friday. Strong southeast winds of 90 km/h will develop over North Vancouver Island early Friday morning. On Friday there will be a transition to mild and moist Pacific air over the south coast due to a southwesterly flow. A significant snowfall of 5 to 15 cm is expected for most of the south coast. Most areas can expect snow to become mixed with freezing rain as the changeover to rain occurs. A period of extended freezing rain is expected for eastern portions of Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Howe Sound. WWW.WEATHEROFFICE.GC.CA Road conditions can be monitored at WWW.DRIVEBC.CA. You can send us reports of severe weather on twitter, using the #bcstorm hashtag. Please be sure to include your location.


Nanaimo Man Missing

Gordon David Krompocker

Nanaimo RCMP are requesting the public’s assistance in locating 35 year old Gordon David KROMPOCKER reported missing by his family from Nanaimo on January 4th.

KROMPOCKER’S parents told police they learned in late December their son was having some personal issues and he has not been seen or heard from since December 29th. Repeated calls to his cell phone and messages posted to his Facebook account have gone unanswered. KROMPOCKER was working full time at a local fast food business and has not contacted his employer.

KROMPOCKER disappeared six months ago and after 2-3 weeks, contacted his family from Halifax. He tends to utilize shelters and prior to his disappearance, he was residing at the New Hope Shelter in Nanaimo.

KROMPOCKER has some medical issues and requires medication. He is approachable and is described as being a white male, approximately 5 ft 10, slim build with light brown hair and hazel eyes. He has no tattoos or visible scars.

If anyone knows where Gordon David KROMPOCKER is, they are requested to ask him to call home and let his parents or friends know he is safe. If you have information on his whereabouts, please contact the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345.


ICBC's Winter Driving Tips

With heavy winter conditions predicted to continue on B.C. roads this week, including continued snowfall in the Lower Mainland, ICBC is reminding drivers to prepare for winter driving conditions and be extra cautious.

According to an ICBC survey conducted in December, seven out of 10 drivers admit to feeling less safe or more frustrated on the roads when winter conditions hit and this is reflected in a spike in crashes at this time of the year. Over the past five years, there have been on average more than 24,000 crashes during the month of January making it one of the highest months for crashes on B.C. roads.

On a positive note, ICBC’s winter driving survey showed that drivers are doing what they can to prepare their vehicles for the challenging road conditions. Eight in 10 drivers topped up their water fluid to help to avoid freezing, while seven in 10 drivers checked their tire pressure – tires deflate more quickly in cold weather. A majority of the drivers said they install winter tires on their vehicle or keep an emergency kit in the car.

When thinking about vehicle maintenance at this time of year, drivers should also turn off their cruise control, use low-beam lights and keep their gas tank at least half-full.


Allen Seeks Criminal Checks

What became an issue after the last election with re-elected school trustee Donna Allen has resurfaced with news she is bringing a motion on the matter at the AGM of the BC School Trustees' Association.

Allen thinks it should be required of school trustees to submit a criminal record check when they file their nomination papers. It wasn't an issue with Allen, until the past election when Bill Bard was elected to the board.

The suggestion opens up a whole can of worms as to how such revelations might influence the public's view of those wishing to run for public office. If the purpose is to judge the character of a person seeking public office, perhaps submitting to a full credit report should also be required. After all if someone can't handle their own finances, do you really want them handling yours??

If the public thinks this motion is one worthy of support, I would presume it should be a standard applied to all elected officials.


Record Lumber Sales to China

Pat Bell Minister Jobs, Tourism and Innovation

“In 2008, I set a goal to export four billion board feet of lumber to China in 2011. Many people told me it couldn’t be done. I encouraged industry to work collaboratively with each other and the Province on a strategy to achieve this goal and it worked. Our results are simply astounding and now some two dozen sawmills across B.C. have re-opened or added shifts in part due to lumber exports to China, creating thousands of jobs in communities from Vavenby to Fort St. John to Nanaimo.”

VICTORIA – The province has set a new record that many believed to be unattainable. With lumber export sales of 4.28 billion board feet as of November, exports to China have already surpassed the province’s 2008 goal of exporting four billion board feet in 2011.

Last year’s export sales to China, with December still to report, are already up 74 per cent from 2010 and 200 per cent from 2009. Sales to China, now with a value of more than $1-billion, make up about 29 per cent of all B.C. lumber exports. Only the U.S., at 42 per cent of exports, is a larger market.

When the province challenged industry in 2008 to work collaboratively with government to increase export sales, B.C. was shipping about 700 million board feet of lumber to China. The three-way market development program between the province, federal government and industry targeting China and other growth markets for B.C. forest products is paying off. Since 2003, when the program started in China, B.C. sales have surged over 1,300 per cent and more than tripled in the last two years. 

By The Numbers
  •  In the more than 160 years since B.C. started exporting lumber, only the U.S. and Japan have previously imported more than $1 billion of B.C. lumber in a calendar year. Exports to the U.S were valued at $1.8 billion in 2010 and exports to Japan totalled $648 million.
  • The latest trade numbers for November 2011 show B.C.’s softwood lumber exports to China were worth $84 million, pushing year-to-date for the year sales past $1 billion, an almost 80 per cent increase compared with the same period in 2010.
  • In 2003, at the start of the joint provincial-federal-industry market development program in China, B.C. exported $69 million worth of softwood products to China and Hong Kong. As of November 2011, B.C. exports have passed $1 billion – an increase of well over 1,300 per cent.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Nanaimo Schools Are Open

As of 8:30 AM the School District reports that schools will be open as usual as will all regular buses.

It is noted however, that Special Needs Buses will NOT be running today!


Council Nixes Internal Auditor

At the Special Finance Policy Committee of the Whole meeting on January 17th, city council voted to not support the position of Internal Auditor.

This position was being recommended by city manager as a way to address a perception in the community that city hall does not always yield the best result for taxpayers.

A flaw with the proposal in my opinion, was it simply looked like another bureaucratic position within city hall, who would be responsible for offering reports on how well his/her boss was doing. On top of the $150,000 suggested salary, you can also include admin assistants etc. etc. and before you know it taxes go up again with little real benefit.

Alternate Suggestion

I would like to see city council consider contracting an external auditor, every two or three years to come in and do a complete forensic audit on one or more files where they examine everything with a fine tooth comb. They would examine method of procurement, contracts signed, practices employed, how administered etc. etc. The file or files they choose would be completely random, or perhaps they might solicit suggestions from the general public if there are certain 'projects' they would like to seem examined.

I would suggest that this type of audit conducted from time to time on a completely random basis might yield much more desirable results that just hiring another staffer to report to their boss.