Friday, November 30, 2012

Things On The Net That Make Ya' Smile

Mt. Rushmore From The Canadian Side?


City Hall Annex Refresher Course

How City Staff Chooses 
To Spend YOUR Tax Dollars!

Option # 1 Cost to Taxpayer Either $0.00 or $4,000,000.00

Option # 2 Buy Existing Building Cost $7,500,000.00
(With 40% More Floor Space)

Option # 3 Build New Cost 'All-in' $16,000,000.00
(Without Going To Public Tender) 

This choice does not provide enough space for all of the staff currently housed at the old 'dangerous' Annex, which means hundreds of thousands more being spent to renovate the city hall building to accommodate.

Guess Which One YOUR City Staff Chose?


City & SD68 Agree To Get Along

City and SD68 sign Collaboration Agreement

(Nanaimo, November 29, 2012) – In the spirit of supporting a shared responsibility for community well-being, Nanaimo City Council and the Board of Education of School District 68 (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) have signed a collaboration agreement that will see the two organizations work closely together on initiatives of mutual interest.

“Local government is most effective when steps are taken to build effective working relationships that promote and improve the needs of our community”, said Nanaimo City Mayor, John Ruttan. “I look forward to the improved dialogue between our organizations this agreement will soon bring.” 

SD68 Board Chair Jamie Brennan said, “The students and parents of our district expect us to demonstrate that harmony and co-operation can lead to great things. We look forward to a continuing positive dialogue with our partners in local governance. This collaboration agreement is an excellent beginning.”

Central to the agreement is the creation of the Staff Working Committee. Comprised of senior staff from both organizations, the committee will seek to improve timely communication and cooperation across a variety of areas, including: land use planning, environmental protection, transportation and traffic management, capacity building and several other initiatives of joint importance. The Committee will provide both advice to Council and the Board as well as implement decisions of the Council and the Board on specific projects and initiatives.

The agreement was approved by the Board at their public meeting Wednesday night and will be approved by Council at their public meeting next Monday.


Carolling In Pioneer Forest Dec. 12








Nanaimo City Council Meeting Dec. 3, 2012

Nanaimo City Council Meeting
Monday, December 3, 2012
7:00 PM Shaw Auditorium
Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Democracy Is Too Important To Leave To The Politicians
Do Your Civic Duty By Getting Informed and Getting Involved

If you say: " I'm too busy just trying to keep it together to get involved, consider that perhaps, if you were more involved you might not be having so much trouble keeping it together "!

You can view this week's Council Meeting Agenda here - - -  Agenda .

 Some Council Decisions You Might Want To Think About

 Council decided to spend $170,000 on an electric Zamboni, when a propane fueled one costs $80,000 and does the same job.

Council decided to spend thousands of dollars to implement a policy of banning the sale of bottled water at civic facilities.

Council decided to add another $700,000 to the $844,000,000 financial plan to pay for a communications person (spin doctor), do you think that is a good use of YOUR tax dollar??

Last Year They Decided to Spend $16,000,000.00 On A New Staff Office. An Amount Equal To YOUR Tax Increase for 5 Years!

At the same time they are building new offices for staff, they are ignoring a $12,000,000 a year funding shortfall for water, sewer and roads, which was identified in a staff report in Nov. 2010!

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.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nanaimo Employment Stats - What Do They Mean?

Fewer EI Recipients In Sept. In Nanaimo

Stats Canada released statistics which indicate there are about 100 fewer people in Nanaimo receiving unemployment insurance benefits than the same time last year.

An interesting statistic to put that beside is whether or not there has been a corresponding increase in the number of people now relying on social assistance from the province as their EI benefits simply ran out.

Those in the 'half-full' crowd would point to how it means the Nanaimo economy has turned a corner and a more vibrant economy is employing more people. That would seem contradicted by the increase demand at the food banks however.

I can't prove it statistically but I don't get the feeling many Nanaimo residents feel they have a whole lot of discretionary spending options at the present time. The only working segments of our economy who may not be feeling the pinch are those fortunate enough to be employed in the public sector these days. Economic reality seems suspended in that sector.


Nov. 28 Nanaimo Parkway Accident

Note: Email subscribers may have to visit Nanaimo info Blog to view video.

Truck Flips No Serious Injuries


Things On The Net That Make Ya' Smile

Creative Re-cycling
Dead Laptop Becomes Cool Cutting Board


RCMP Offer Christmas Shopping Safety Tips

 It’s that time of year again where we all rush off to the local malls with our shopping list in tow to find the perfect Christmas gifts for our loved ones. The holiday season is a time for fun & festivity so don’t let criminals be your scrooge this holiday season. Here are a few precautions that people can take when they venture out to do their shopping to avoid heartaches & disappointments.

Everyone knows that shopping malls become increasingly busy at this time of year. Malls are a flurry of activity with shoppers rushing around, scurrying to find that last perfect gift to place under the tree. Often people become so focused on the task at hand that they can lose track of what they’re children are doing or where they’ve wandered off to.

Parents are reminded to keep an eye on their little ones & to never use a video arcade or a toy store as a baby sitter. Sadly, children are abducted every year, often in malls or department stores. A good idea is to have a plan & ensure that your children understand it in the event that your children become separated from you. Suggest that they go to the nearest cashier to tell them they are lost & to stay there for assistance.

Leaving your children unattended in shopping carts can lead to injuries from children falling or leaping out of the carts. Strapping your child into the cart is a good idea, but please be aware that this may still be hazardous to your children as they may struggle to get out & tip the cart over in the process. Parents should stay with their children & their shopping carts at all times.

As much as shoppers see the holiday season as an opportunity to find some great deals, pickpockets & thieves also see this as an opportune time. In order to put a damper on criminal activity, follow these simple rules:
  • Men should carry their wallets in their front pockets as opposed to their back pockets or jackets.
  • Women should carry their purses close to their body but should not wrap their purse straps around themselves. Doing so could cause you to be dragged down to the ground in the event that your purse is snatched.
  • Avoid using revolving doors as thieves with good timing can grab your parcels & get away by the time it takes you to emerge.
  • Never leave your purchases unattended, even for a short period of time.
Parking is almost always a problem when it comes to the holiday season. If possible, park under lighting & close to entrances & exits. Under no circumstances should you leave your children unattended in your vehicle, even for a short period of time. Place all of your purchases in your trunk to avoid drawing attention to your vehicle. Know that if you place your purchases in the back seat you may return to your vehicle to find your windows smashed & all of your gifts stolen. If you use a GPS to assist you in getting from one place to another, a good idea is to remove it from plain view as well.

When your day of shopping is over & it’s time to head home, a good practice is to have your keys ready when you approach your vehicle. By doing so you avoid the clumsiness of trying to find your keys & juggling with your shopping bags which delays getting into your vehicle. If you feel uncomfortable about walking to your vehicle alone in the dark, consider asking a security guard to escort you.


Harewood Neighbourhood Plan Charrette

Click Image To Enlarge


E-Commerce Chinese-style

$3.06 Billion In 24 Hours!

Yes, that is Billion with a 'B'!. It is reported that Alibaba shocked the web with news it's subsidiaries Taobao (like a Chinese Bay) and T-mall (like Amazon) sold a massive $3.06 billion in product in a single 24 hour period.

Apparently the two sites have a combined user base of over half a billion registered users and are looking forward to the day when a $10 billion day is within the realm of possibility.

Is it any wonder North American company CEO's salivate when they think about getting a share of the Chinese market? Put another way ... what is the BC Provincial budget to run the entire province for the whole year?


Will City Taxes Go Up 20% This Time?

Or Will City Manager Continue This Approach
To Water, Sewer & Roads Funding?

We are rapidly approaching that time of year when city hall management lays out the budget for the next five years. The five year financial plan presented last year I believe was calling for an increase on city taxes in the order of 3%. Of course that number is not realistic given the state of underfunding the city's infrastructure.

17% Increase Needed For Water, Sewer & Roads Alone!

You may recall that in Nov. 2010 Mr. Hickey presented council with an asset management report that would indicate a current underfunding of water, sewer and roads in the order of $12,000,000.00 annually! That is an amount, if accurate, that would require a tax increase of 17% from this point forward just to insure our most basic infrastructure is funded.

For reasons only understood by higher-priced minds than mine Mr. Kenning has recommended that council ignore this shortfall until after 2013 when the industrial tax shift is complete. I have always understood the 'political' reason for this decision, but never the prudent fiscal reason. As I recall Councillor Kipp was the sole councillor who opposed adopting last years budget for this very reason. The balance of council, as can be expected, followed Mr. Kenning's advice.

The result of this decision is a potential ticking time bomb just waiting to blow up in the form of rupturing water mains or sewer lines. Holyrood Drive is a recent example of staff's inability to guess when something will need replacing.

The number of 17% is based on the accuracy of Mr. Hickey's asset management report, which I understand is being re-worked. However, if it proves to be accurate it should require adding in the increases for the past two years this shortfall has been ignored by Mr. Kenning just to play catch-up. In other words if we should have raised taxed by 17% the past two years, which were ignored we would need to raise taxes this year by a factor of three to get caught up. That would be a whopping 51% tax increase.

The reason given for ignoring this water, sewer & roads shortfall was claimed to be due to the industrial tax shift, which reduced industrial taxes and shifted them over to homeowners these past few years. A politically prudent decision but certainly not fiscally sound. The large number of staff who can take full pensions come 2013 may or may not have a bearing on the policy to ignore this issue and simply let someone else deal with it. Kicking the can down the road is more and more becoming a method our leaders are adopting lately.

Next years budget is scheduled to be presented to city council at the Dec. 10 COW meeting, whether that will be in the new annex is an unknown at the present time.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nanaimo Bretzel Maker Goes Into The Den

Michael In The Dragon's Den

Nanaimo businessman and soft pretzel maker had the opportunity to raise funds to expand his company by pitching the Dragons in CBC's popular show Dragon's Den.

All Dragons thought Michaels product was great and liked his presentation, however, as is the case with many in the den, his business evaluation was not agreeable to the investors.

Michael has plans to grow his business by offering freshly made Bretzels custom baked and delivered the same way as pizza outlets offer their product.

Michael has a storefront location and you can view his offerings on his website HERE.


Things On The Net That Make Ya' Smile

Can Ya' Hear It Now???


BC Ferries Chops Fuel Surcharges


VICTORIA – Just in time for the holiday season, BC Ferries is pleased to announce the company is in a position to eliminate fuel surcharges on its major and minor routes.

Effective November 30, 2012, the two per cent fuel surcharge will be removed altogether on the three routes between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, the Horseshoe Bay Langdale route and on the minor routes. As of November 30, 2012, no routes in the BC Ferries’ fleet will be subject to a fuel surcharge.

“The recent decrease in the cost of fuel allows us to eliminate the fuel surcharges, which is great news for holiday travellers,” said Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ President and CEO. “We are pleased to be able to reduce the cost of ferry travel for our customers as every bit helps.”


Nanaimo Artwalk Dec. 1 & 2, 2012

Click Image To Enlarge

This self directed tour of downtown and Old City Quarter artists and their studios is in it's 14th year and is a perfect way to discover many of the hidden treasures and talents on offer.

With more than 50 artists in 20 locations ranging from Townsite Road to the city's south end you will find a wide range of arts and crafts with something sure to suit everyone.

You can download a copy of this year's map and brochure by visiting their website HERE.
You can also pick up brochures from the Nanaimo Art Gallery, 150 Commercial St., Artzi Stuff, 309B Wesley Street, Barton Leier Gallery, 99 Chapel St., House of Indigo, 6 Church St., and Nanaimo Arts Council, Nanaimo North Town Centre.

For information about parking and the horse drawn trolley rides, click HERE.


Money For Annex But Not Dams?

Money For New Annex
But Not To Upgrade Colliery Dams?

Anyone who has been down to city hall lately will see that the shiny new office for city staff is just about ready for all that shiny new furniture. It is with a sigh of relief I am sure that all those staffers will finally be able to leave that death trap they have been working in this past decade!. Sarcasm intended.

Looking at the timeline for hazard assessment studies of the Colliery Park Lakes Dams it is apparent that the fact these dams needed dealing with was evident to city staff during the same timeline they were angling for a shiny new office. Remember they could have chosen to stay put and live like the rest of us daredevils who walk and drive over old mine shafts all the time. They could have chosen to spend $4 million to upgrade the old building (if that really was the cost, they seem to take 'guesstimates' for quotes when making decisions).

Could diverting the $16,000,000.00 from the shiny new office, with shiny new furniture, combined  with the $7,000,000.00 they seem to have budgeted for demolition have been sufficient to build new dams, even if their 'guesstimates' are on the high side??

It would seem to this lowly scribe, that far more people would be served by using those funds to address the Colliery Park Lakes Dams, than providing shiny new offices for our highly paid city managers.

I realize I could be misjudging the intentions of how Mr. Kenning has managed these two issues, but the skeptic in me keeps growing the longer I observe the process at city hall.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Another Nanaimo Postcard

Click Image To Enlarge

Local photo artist Sheryl Falls snapped this interesting pic of the Nanaimo skyline from a less familiar vantage point.


Approved Christmas Sale Dec. 1 & 2

Over 90 Businesses
"Approved" Sales Balloons
Mean 25% - 75% Off!

Door Prizes & Gift Wrapping On Site


The Nutcracker At Port Theatre

Kirkwood Academy of Performing Arts
presents The Nutcracker
Port Theatre  Fri. Nov. 30 7:00 pm
Saturday Dec. 1 2:00pm & 7:00 pm

This timeless classic showcases the wonderful talent of Nanaimo’s youth and provides the mid-Island region with a professional, memorable, yet affordable ballet experience for all to enjoy.
The Nutcracker is an excellent way to start off the Christmas season and is the perfect family entertainment.


Learning From Haida Qwaii Quake

7.7 Quake Left Balancing Rock 'Unmoved'
Caused No Physical Or Structural Injuries

CBC television aired a story about the Haida Qwaii earthquake which measured 7.7 on the Richter scale recently. The story centres around scientific investigations into the quake to try and learn the how and why of the quake.

What is described as the largest Canadian earthquake in a generation was 80 km from a populated centre, measured 7.7 on the Richter scale resulted in no physical or structural injuries. There was and continues to be psychological 'injuries' as a result which arguably are based in fear of what could happen, not what did happen.

The facts are that the area was hit by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake, and counting the smallest 'quakes' during this event, scientists claim anywhere from 2,000 - 3,000 quakes have occurred, none of which have resulted in physical injury but have resulted in mental issues for some.

Fear, not fact has claimed victims after this quake.

Fear Is Powerful

Fear of course is a good thing, it keeps some of us from jumping out of airplanes or taking a board and riding 20' surf or engaging in other risky activities some would claim are what makes life worth living. It can also become an instrument which can result in irrational behaviour, there are many examples of people who perished when they succumbed to panic, brought on by fear, whereas the calm rational person was able to survive the same circumstance.

The fear of what 'could' happen should Colliery Dams fail is what has driven council to accept the opinion of staff to destroy the Colliery Lakes. There seems to be little rational thought applied to the real likelihood of this actually happening, or for that matter being able to withstand  should a seismic event occur.

Fear is an often used tool in the hands of marketers and opinion makers everywhere. Fear of loss is a great motivator which sales people have known for years and is often, albeit subtly used to convince others to agree with them.

The decision to destroy Colliery Park Lakes is solely based in fear, fear of loss of life, fear of property loss and finally fear of litigation. Whether a calm, rational person would agree with the opinion being championed by the city manager is a question that needs asking and answering.

Example Of Fear Being Used To Sway Opinion

City staff is quoted in the local media as saying there is a 40% chance the dams will fail within 50 years. However, if you read the report it is said there is a 15% - 40% chance of failure in 50 years, but that statement is prefaced with the phrase 'could be'. Other studies claim a 1.6% chance in 50 years, contained in the same report.

Put another way, the city used statistic could also be phrased as there is an 85% chance the dams will not fail in 50 years, or using the 1.6% chance you could say there is a 98.4% chance the dam will not fail.

A Contradiction?

City staff are saying these reports show a 40% chance of failure in 50 years which means you could also say that within the next 10 minutes there is a 40% chance of failure, which would be true, as the next 10 minutes will occur within the next 50 years.

Yet, they say the dams are stable and there is no need to evacuate from the area or stop developing property in the flood zone. Something staff has approved in spite of being aware of the seismic hazard assessment claiming a risk in the area.

So, has fear led to some irrational behaviour on the part of city staff and city council which has led to a fear driven (panicked) conclusion ?


Monday, November 26, 2012

Colliery Park Lakes Dam Decision

Many Questions Need Answering About Process

The recent controversy over the city staff-led decision to destroy Colliery Parks Lakes has brought to light some serious questions about the whole process and how city hall staff handled this issue.


The whole timeline of this matter needs some consideration and the way in which city manager, Mr. Al Kenning chose to deal with this matter. The Dam Safety review conducted in 2003 recommended a seismic hazard assessment based on concerns about the dam. The city did not authorize this work until Feb. 2009 and that assessment was not issued for use until April 2010. There were serious concerns raised about these dams at this time. However, it was not until Sept. 2012 that the flood inundation study was released. Given the seriousness city staff now attaches to these dams, why have they seemingly dragged their feet so long on this file?

It was also during this timeline that city staff were busy convincing city council of the pressing need to provide them with a shiny new office.

Costs To Destroy Dams Not A Firm Price:

At the COW meeting of Nov. 26, 2012 it was revealed by Mr. Sims, the head of the water department that the publicized price of $7 million to remove the dams is no better than an educated guesstimate, as is the price of $20 - $30 million to upgrade these dams. If nothing else, you really have to question just how seriously this matter has been considered by Mr. Kenning, if getting nothing better than guesstimates when making buying decisions you have to wonder about those best practices we hear about from time to time.

You may recall when it came to awarding the $12 million contract to build the new Annex, which decision was also based on 'seismic assessment', there never was a tendering process used. Rather it seems that once again guesstimates were the order of the day, for example when deciding against buying an existing building and upgrading it, it was said to cost between $1 million and $8 million to upgrade. That's a pretty wide guesstimate, but was enough for city staff to abandon buying an existing building in favour of spending $16 million on a shiny new office.

Just Leading To A Foregone Conclusion?

You have to wonder if there ever was any genuine desire on the part of Mr. Kenning to retain the Colliery Park Lakes or if their removal was the plan from the beginning. Of course there has to be the appearance of doing the city's business in a proper manner following best practices. But you would be forgiven for concluding Mr. Kenning believed destroying the dams was the best option and set about to convince city council that was what had to be done and based his persuasion on questionable guesstimates at best.

The Process:

The process was clearly handled in such a manner as to completely eliminate any possible feedback from the public or any time given for any input from the public with what is proving to be possibly viable, and cost saving alternatives. Some councilors would have you believe they were given very little time to agree with staff's decision to destroy the lakes. There is no doubt the public was denied any opportunity to put forward their concerns or ideas about a safe, agreeable resolution.

On the surface it appears that staff, once again are simply operating in a high-handed manner designed to push this decision through without due consideration from council or the public.

Openness, Transparency, Participatory Democracy, Accountability, Communicate:

Do these principles actually describe goals this city staff and city council really believe in, or are they just buzz words of the day designed for that famous 15 second sound bite we all think passes for news these days?

Based on the current Colliery Park Lakes fiasco, I think it appears these are just the buzz words of the day rather than being truly reflective of anything meaningful coming from city hall.


Friends Of Colliery Dam Will Have Input

 Councillor Pattje's Motion Opens Door To Discussion

After hearing credible representation from the society to save Colliery Parks Lake, Councillor Pattje's motion to have city staff meet with society members to discuss options to removing the dams was passed by the majority of council. Councilor Bestwick was the only dissenting vote.

The wide range of price tags associated with upgrading the dams simply can not be ignored. For example retired, life long resident Mr. Heathcote who has worked in the construction business and on such projects as the Elsie Lake Dam believes the figures quoted by city staff of $20 - $30 million are grossly over estimated. The probability of a dam failure of 1.6% in 50 years is in sharp contrast to the figure of 40% used by staff to justify their recommendation to remove the dams.

One after another delegates made compelling cases to city council which could only result in revisiting this decision if there is to be any confidence the city has made the right choice. Pointing out the complete lack of public input on the matter, to the fact it seems the decision to remove the dams was made by one or two city staff, to unreliable estimates to upgrade the dams, the delegates raised more than enough unanswered questions which means listening to this group's input is the only viable option.

The motion which was successful requires staff to meet with the friends of Colliery Park Lakes and report back to council with other options which should be considered.


Nanaimo Hamperville 2012

2560 Bowen Road, Nanaimo

Hamperville this year is located in the old Madill building which is entered at the lights of Bowen Road and Kenworth Road. Turn at the light as if you were going towards the car dealer and continue following the signs a short distance where you turn to the right into the old Madill yard.

The entrance is clearly marked with signs but the address does make it a bit confusing.

Hamperville is a joint effort of the Salvation Army and the Loaves and Fishes Food Bank which last year served over 5,000 people and distributed almost 2.300 Christmas Hampers. This is purely a volunteer run organization with no admin overhead, so every dollar you donate goes directly to someone in need.

Those wishing to register can do so at their new location. For more information about volunteering or donating or registering for this years program visit their website HERE or call 250-751-9780.


RCMP Investigate Morning Robberies In Nanaimo

On Thursday, November 22 at approximately 4:25 a.m. a male advised he had located a female injured on the sidewalk. Nanaimo RCMP attended the area and learned the female had been walking in the downtown area when she was struck from behind. She fell to the ground and the suspects took her wallet. She got up and eventually made her way to the Husky gas station, on Terminal Street. BC Ambulance took the female to hospital where she was treated for injuries to her face, hands, and shoulders. She was released later in the morning.

There is very little information on the suspects other than they seemed to be males, in their late teens, early 20's. The exact location of the attack is unknown.

Later this same morning at approximately 7:20 am another female pedestrian had been walking on Dunster Road, Nanaimo BC when she heard what she thought were kittens behind the dumpster. As she went to check on this she was struck over the head. She was knocked unconscious and remained on the ground until she was found by a passer by. Her purse was rummaged through and money, including two dollar bills were taken. The female was taken by ambulance to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital where she is currently being examined for a head injury.

A similar occurrence was reported on October 26, 2012. On October 25, 2012 at approximately 4:00 am a female and male had been walking on Commercial St. near Skinner St, when they were struck in the head. The female’s purse was stolen. The couple did not call the police until the following day.

It is very important if you are a victim of a crime to contact the police as soon as possible.
At this time the RCMP do not know if the same suspects are involved in all of these robberies.

Nanaimo RCMP are requesting the public’s assistance in identifying these suspects. If anyone has any information they are asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or CRIMESTOPPERS at 1-800-222-8477.


Mark Carney Leaving Bank of Canada

New Head Bank of England

It is widely reported that in a surprise move, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty announced Carney will become governor of the Bank of England on July 1, 2013.

Flaherty said it was our loss at the same time bittersweet as we are loosing an important figure who is obviously highly thought of on the world stage.

The appointment is for a single eight-year term which starts the day after current governor Mervyn King. Carney is quoted as saying it was a difficult decision but the right on for him.


No Backbone On City Council

Council shows little backbone

In an uncharacteristic editorial, the Bulletin recently took a swipe at city council and their seemingly spineless response when given an ultimatum by senior government.

They cite the council's submissive response to many of these demands as doing a poor job advocating for Nanaimo citizens. The decision to build a $72 million water treatment plant, remove Colliery dams, not protecting parkland in Linley Valley and Pioneer Forest and doing basically nothing about the boat basin takeover are pointed to as examples of this council's lack of backbone.

They note that in addition to dollars there are social costs to the decision to remove the Colliery Park Lakes, changing the boat basin and developing Pioneer Park into another residential area.

You can read the editorial in full by clicking here.


Things On The Net That Make Ya' Smile

Creative Rainwater Treatment
or Too Much Time On Their Hands?

This building in a German community is an example of  either creativity or too much schnapps on day. Although, when you look at it, it kinda goes with the paint job.

Our design panel review board would be challenged by this one, I'm sure.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Colliery Lakes Dam Delegation At City Council

 Delegation Appeals To City Council

There are three delegates listed on the Monday Committee of the Whole meeting who will be presenting to council regards the Colliery Lakes Dam removal decision.

Unfortunately these delegates will not necessarily gain the public attention they deserve due to the fact they are not allowed to make their presentations before a regular city council meeting. A regular city council meeting starts at 7:00pm whereas a COW meeting starts at 4:30pm which seriously limits the number of people who can attend. The lack of being broadcast, and the usual lack of local media coverage (this blog excluded) means most issues presented at a COW meeting get about as little attention as possible. A cynic would say that is by design by staff and council so they may reduce the publicity some issues might otherwise gain.

If the three presenters on behalf of the save the Colliery Lakes group are as articulate as they were with their arguments at the meeting held at Barsby last week it should make for an interesting alternative to the view already presented by city staff.

From the information I have gained from city staff it is fair to say there never has been an accurate cost estimate of what upgrading the dams might be, as the decision to remove the dams was considered the only viable option given the seismic hazard assessment report followed by the inundation report.

To support their decision the city refers to the finding that there 'could be' a 15% - 40% chance the dams would fail in the next 50 years due to a seismic event. I'm not sure how the rest of Nanaimo will fair if the same criteria is applied to a hazard assessment of other structures in Nanaimo.

The engineer speaking on behalf of those opposed to the decision to remove the lakes, claims a 1.6% chance in 50 years based on the same studies.

It will be interesting to see how convincing this delegation is and how receptive city council may be to the differing viewpoint of this delegation. I suspect the majority will dig in their heels and defend their decision.

Regardless the outcome, it is always refreshing to see members of the community actually participate in the decisions being made by a handful of elected and non-elected officials.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

BC Economic Snapshot Nov. 24, 2012

VANCOUVER, BC, Nov. 24, 2012/ Troy Media/ – Retail sales in British Columbia inched up in September from August, even as sales in metro Vancouver declined.

Province-wide sales totalled $5.1 billion in September, up 0.3 per cent from August. In metro Vancouver, sales declined 1.7 per cent to $2.4 billion, while elsewhere in the province sales increased 2.1 per cent to $2.7 billion. All figures are seasonally adjusted unless otherwise noted.

In the first nine months of 2012, retail sales totalled $45.4 billion in B.C., unadjusted, up 3.3 per cent from the same period last year. Year-to-September sales in metro Vancouver were up 5.1 per cent year-over-year, while elsewhere in the province sales were up 1.8 per cent.

Retail sales in B.C. have trended down since the record high was set in February. Consumer spending will undergo a mild resurgence in 2013 when the PST tax system comes into effect. The switch back to the PST will likely prompt a pickup in spending on some consumer services such as restaurant meals, entertainment, and travel. Some current spending could be postponed until after March 31, 2013 to take advantage of the lower retail sales tax.

Tax system changes aside, consumer spending fundamentals will remain modestly positive resulting in below-average growth for most of the forecast. Modest income and job growth along with low population growth will restrain spending growth in the near term despite ultra-low interest rates.

In addition, consumer confidence will remain fragile until the macroeconomic environment and the European debt crisis improves. We forecast retail sales in B.C. will rise 3.6 per cent this year and 4.5 per cent in 2013 following growth of 3.1 per cent last year.

New motor vehicle sales in British Columbia increased in September and remain well above year ago levels. Sales in September totalled 15,679 units, seasonally adjusted (SA), up 8.1 per cent from August.

The average sale price was $34,926 SA, down 1.4 per cent month-over-month. Total dollar sales volume in September was $548 million SA, up 6.6 per cent from August.

In the first nine months of 2012, new car and light truck sales totalled 136,638 units in B.C., up 11.7 per cent from the same period last year. The average price is down 1.3 per cent on the same basis, while dollar volume is up 10.2 per cent.

Pent up demand, low financing rates, moderate income growth and aggressive pricing are the key factors driving this year’s higher new motor vehicle sales. We forecast unit sales will rise 10 per cent this year and 4 per cent in 2013, following a 2.5 per cent increase last year.



FREE Skate Sunday Nov. 25

Click Image To Enlarge


Friday, November 23, 2012

Cable Ferry Buckley Bay - Denman Island

To Be In Service Fall 2014

VICTORIA – BC Ferries announced today that the company will proceed with its plans to design, build and operate a cable ferry between Buckley Bay on Vancouver Island and Denman Island. The new 50-car vessel is expected to be in service by the fall of 2014.

“At BC Ferries we are constantly looking to identify ways to keep operating and capital costs as low as possible while maintaining our high standard of safety and customer service, and a cable ferry provides substantial cost savings of $19 million over the life of these assets calculated on a discounted net present value basis,” said Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ President

A public information session to update the community on the cable ferry project will be held on Thursday, November 29 from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm at the Denman Island Seniors Hall on Denman Island.


Committee Of The Whole November 26, 2012

  Committee of the Whole Meeting
Monday November 26, 2012
Shaw Auditorium, 4:30 PM
80 Commercial Street, Nanaimo

NOTE: Change of Location!!
No Longer At City Hall 

New Name COW
(No longer FPCOW)

There are three delegations appearing before Council regards the Colliery Dam Lakes.

Council  recently approved a change which requires all delegations speaking to an interest not on the agenda be heard at the COW meeting instead of a regular council meeting. This means that if it is not telecast there is little chance Nanaimo residents will ever hear the matter as COW meetings are held at 4:30 in the afternoon, meaning fewer people will be able to attend, also the press coverage of these meetings is spotty at best.

While all councilors say they are in favour of transparency, it is only by their actions you can decide if they mean what they say, or are just spouting good sounding election promises, which mean nothing after elected.

You can view the agenda for this meeting HERE.


Cherry Tomatoes - Salmonella Warning

May Contain Salmonella Bacteria

Canadian Food Inspection has issued a warning to consumers to not eat a specific batch of Krown brand cherry tomatoes sold between Nov. 13 and Nov. 21 due to a Salmonella risk. The tainted product was sold in the 551 ml size.

Some no name brand party trays of cherry tomatoes sold at Safeway between Nov.14 and Nov. 21 may also be at risk.

The products were sold in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, NWT,Yukon and may have been distributed nationally.


Wilderness Dweller In Nanaimo

Wildnerness Dweller Chris Czajkowski is giving a slideshow promoting her new book, Ginty’s Ghost: A Wildnerness Dweller’s Dream (Harbour Publishing, $21.95) at the Nanaimo Public Library (90 Commercial Street) on Monday, November 26 at 6:30pm. The show will illustrate her efforts to establish herself in her new home--the extremely remote and long abandoned property at Ginty Creek. For more information about this free event, go to


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Park Avenue School Band Needs Your Help!

Don't Let The Music Die..... Do What You Can!

Check out the attic, that old trunk, a corner of the garage or basement and if you have a musical instrument that is no longer in use consider donating it to the music class at Park Avenue School. If you've got some spare cash lying around you don't need, I'm sure they can figure out how to use that as well.

This is really a cool program which all kids should be able to take advantage of and I'm sure the community will get behind it to make it a rip roaring success. Where else do you think future members of the Vancouver Island Symphony are going to come from?

Park Avenue Community School is located at 395 8th Street, Nanaimo, Phone 250-754-5591 and the Principals name is Ms. Karina Younk.


Black Friday Comes To Canada

Huge USA Sales Day Comes To Canada

Canadian merchants are no longer sitting idly by watching massive retailing dollars flow across the border into the United States on their biggest sales day of the year.

Traditionally in the US the day after Thanksgiving is the day Americans flocked to the stores to take advantage of deep discounts and huge bargains being offered by merchants. The name Black Friday is reference to the fact that this is the day when merchants begin to operate in the black (in profit) once again.

Most Canadian retailers have been getting onboard the Black Friday express in recent years but this is the first week I remember nearly all the shopping flyers making a reference to the Black Friday sales, which actually run all weekend long in many cases.

For the serious shopper who still has room on their credit cards, some genuine bargains can be had, however, like all sales, once you are in the store, it is sometimes hard to resist buying something else that isn't necessarily such a bargain.


Mt. Washington Opens Nov. 30, 2012

Winter Opening Day 2012-2013
The 2012-2013 winter season opening day
Great news!! We're opening early for the fourth season in a row! After receiving over 80cms of new snow over the weekend, our new opening day is now Friday, November 30th!

There are two more systems lining up to hit us this week so more snow is on the way. We will determine lift and terrain opening closer to opening day on the 30th. Stay tuned!!

Don't forget that our 6ixPaks are on sale in November! Buy yours before December 1st and save! You can use them yourself, share them with friends and they also make great stocking stuffers!

Please visit our Events Calendar for all our upcoming events and activities.
Keep thinking snow!

The lifts will start to turn November 30, 2012 at 9am. check back for more...


What Is The Probabilty Of A 'Seismic' Event

Singing The Public Safety Song
Used To Build New Annex

It is now quoted in the Bulletin that the city claims there is a 40% chance the Colliery dams will fail in the next 50 years! Says who? In supporting the decision to remove the dams and thereby destroy the lakes you will find different language ranging from seismic event (unspecified) to significant earthquake (still unspecified) to justify the opinion there could be an unacceptable loss of life should the dams fail. The fact of the matter is that NO ONE can predict with any degree of accuracy when or even if such an event would occur. But it makes for a good fall back reason to fund another study and spend more tax dollars.

The same slippery language was used to justify the expending of at least $16,000,000.00 to build and furnish a shiny new office for city staff. An undertaking which was done without going to public tender, you may recall. The same practice employed to construct a conference centre we were told was going to cost $51,000,000.00, which the management at city hall saw balloon to at least $75,000,000.00 under their capable management. It has never been explained why the city didn't accept the offer to build the new annex for $9 million instead of $12 million as they could have, or for that matter bought a much larger building for $7 million or for that matter stayed where they were for nothing!

We are told by a couple of VIHA employees that perhaps, just maybe our city water supply which has provided enviable drinking water for 150 years is not adequately protected from beaver fever. A few (questionably qualified) city employees decide to agree with the order from a few VIHA employees and ba da bing ...... we need to spend $72,000,000.00 on a new water filtration plant. Never mind we are forcing people to drink this potentially dangerous water from the taps at civic facilities all across the city!

Anyone who has been paying attention to the decisions and performance coming from city hall this past decade are justified in questioning what kind of management city taxpayers have been buying.

Policy Needs To Be Made By City Council
Just What Is The Policy Regards Seismic Standard?

Every time some study indicates a structure may not withstand a 'seismic event' and therefore must be either upgraded or torn down is a policy that needs to be discussed by those paying the freight for such a policy. Cherry picking which project will have this safety standard applied is simply inconsistent and needs serious discussion. If we are going to insist that Nanaimo be 'earthquake proof' we should start with schools. If we really think we live in such day to day peril we need to make absolutely certain that our kids are safe first! Let the city hall staff take their chances with the rest of us dare devils who live and work in seismically challenged structures.

Nanaimo apparently lives in a zone which may be shaken to it's very core some day, perhaps, maybe when the BIG ONE (unspecified) finally hits. No one can predict with any degree of accuracy if this event will ever happen and whether it would have the feared effect dragged out by 'experts' to support their latest projects. If you want to be guaranteed you will be unaffected by the dreaded BIG ONE, you need to move.

In the meantime City Council, not city staff, need to establish a very clear and unambiguous policy with regards the application of current seismic standards to all structures within the city. If the conclusion is to tear everything down and rebuild, fine, but first let's determine just how exactly we are going to pay for it.


Designated Drivers Are NOT The Least Drunk!

Designated Drivers Decide In Advance Not To Drink

ICBC Offers The Following Advice

Designated drivers get you home with care.

Plan your ride  
Recently we asked the public what it takes to be a designated driver. Many people told us that the least drunk person often becomes the designated driver by default. 
Unfortunately, it's this type of thinking plus a lack of planning that leads to impaired driving crashes on our roads.  In fact, the only time to decide how to get home safely is before you start drinking. Otherwise, it's too late. That's why we're reminding everyone to designate a driver before your first round of drinks arrives.

Being a designated driver is a shared responsibility

You can promote safe driving and encourage your friends and family to make smart choices. Set a positive example and take turns being the designated driver.

Remember, a designated driver is the person who decides not to drink so that they can drive others home safely.


Things On The Net That Make Ya' Smile?

"Let's See Those Plans Again!"


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Helping BC Businesses Return To PST

Businesses can find provincial sales tax (PST) exemption and application information for the return to a PST and GST system in recently released PST bulletins and notices.

Government has released more than half-a-dozen publications providing plain-language guidance on the application of PST and related exemptions, subject to approval of the legislature, that B.C. businesses require to successfully transition back to the PST. As committed, the PST is being re-implemented on April 1, 2013, with all permanent exemptions.

Since Oct. 1, 2012, the following notices and bulletins have been released and are available on the Business and Investing page of the BC Government website.

·         Notice 2012-009 - Notice to Liquor Vendors: BC Returns to PST on April 1, 2013
·         Notice 2012-010 - General Transitional Rules for the Re-implementation of PST
·         Notice 2012-011 - Purchases of Tangible Personal Property (Goods) in B.C
·         Notice 2012-012 - Leases of Tangible Personal Property (Goods)
·         Notice 2012-013 - Tangible Personal Property (Goods) Brought Into B.C.
·         Notice 2012-014 - Legal Services
·         Notice 2012-015 - Propane Purchasers and Sellers
·         Bulletin PST 001 - Registering to Collect Provincial Sales Tax
·         Bulletin PST 002 - Charging, Collecting and Remitting PST

Links to these publications, FAQs, an online sign-up form for one-on-one tax consultations for business, along with additional information about the return to the PST, can be found in the business outreach section of Return to PST website.

More bulletins and notices on the application of PST in specific circumstances will be added as they become available, so check the website often, or subscribe to email updates at our What’s New page.

If you have questions about the return to PST, you can call us toll-free at 1 877 388-4440, or email your questions to:


NDP Finance Critic's Grasp Of Economics

NDP Finance Critic Says 
Greece Will Grow Faster Than Canada

In another one of those bits of theatre that our politicians are famous for, NDP Finance Critic Peggy Nash stated that according to the IMF Greece's economy will grow faster than ours in 2015.

In a great example of hurrying to try and discredit the sitting government Ms Nash simply didn't take the time to do a little research behind the IMF numbers, either that, or it is beyond her grasp.

Apparently in the year 2015 Greece is expected to show a GDP growth of 2.7 while Canada is expected to have a rate of 2.4. What the report also states is that for the years leading up to 2015 Canada is running near capacity while Greece is growing in the negative numbers. So, what is actually expected is for Greece to be seriously trying to catch up, while at the same time Canada has continued to steadily keep chugging along.

Politicians .... gotta luv 'em all. None of them seem to have noticed we just aren't watching that channel anymore, as basically all they are offering is re-runs of previous performances. Can hardly wait for the PET-lite show to hit the airwaves.


Save Colliery Dam Meeting Notes

A Few Observations From Colliery Dam Meeting

The crowd of 500+ while passionate were not rowdy or disrespectful towards the Mayor and city council who were in attendance. They included Mayor Ruttan and councillors Pattje, Johnstone, Kipp, McKay and Anderson. The fact they had not been consulted in any manner prior to making the decision to remove the lakes in Colliery Park was considered a sign of disrespect on the part of Mayor and Council.

The fact that Mayor and counil were not invited to speak (likely a welcome relief) clearly sent the message that this was the time for the people to speak and the elected officials to listen. Something which council negelected to do when making this decision. Making this decision in-camera has not yet been actually justified by Mayor Ruttan, we only have the oft-quoted reasons which 'may' be used to discuss city business in-secret. It has not been demonstrated how a public discussion would actually have been harmful to the city's position.

A point which may or may not have been lost on City Council is the fact people are watching the decisions being made at city hall which they feel were not a good use of tax dollars. The conference centre, the cruise ship terminal and the new staff offices were all referred to as examples of ways city council have chosen to unwisely spend tax dollars. They are now having a hard time reconciling the fact council claims unable to fund an alternative which would save the Colliery Park lakes.

If this first meeting is a sign of things to come as this group gets organized, funded and focused we could be witnessing an example of participatory democracy in action. Something which for the most part has been ignored by 73% of the Nanaimo population.


Nanaimo Gas Prices Still Outrageous

What's The Message We Are Sending?

The local gas cartel seem to be willing to single-handedly give Nanaimo a black eye with their practice of leading the Island when it comes to gas prices.

This past weekend a trip to Victoria once again pointed out how Nanaimo gas retailers are continuing to gouge the motoring public with impunity since they seem to have agreed among themselves not to compete. Too bad someone with the resources doesn't set about to prove that as it should be illegal.

Even Victoria, which traditionally was higher than Nanaimo was pumping for 110.9 when you remove their transit tax of two cents a litre.

An extra $4 or $5 dollars left at the gas pump is an extra $4 or $5 you don't have to spend someplace else and given the other stations on the Island are not run by Santa Claus it seems obvious Nanaimo operators continue to gouge out of simple greed.


The Singing Christmas Tree Dec. 2012

The Singing Christmas Tree has been an outstanding Nanaimo tradition for the last 20 years! This year's production is Special Delivery which tells the story of two cousins, Mary and Elizabeth and their most unusual circumstances surrounding their pregnancy.

Here's the scoop for this year's production:

Tickets will be available starting November 14th.                                      

This year's performaces will run December 7-9 & December 14-16 with evening performances at 7 pm on all dates. Matinee performances are on Saturdays and Sundays at 4 pm.

Tickets are free and available at ET Family Church, 1300 Princess Royal Ave. and Tia Mei’s Cafe, 741 Third St., in the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre.

Tickets guarantee a seat at the show and doors open 15 minutes prior to the performance.

For more information, please visit e-mail or call 250-753-0258.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Save Colliery Dam Public Meeting

Over 500 Attend Public Meeting
To Save Colliery Dam

One thing is certain and that is if city staff and city council think that the Colliery Dams have come to the end of their useful life, they have not read the public very well and may be victims of just listening to their own opinions.

It was a packed out meeting in the gymnasium at John Barsby School on Tuesday night where organizer Jeff Solomon with the aid of many organizers were able to send a message loud and clear to city hall. The message? Colliery Dam and the lakes they create are worth saving and no one is convinced the city gave any other options enough serious consideration.

For a grass roots organization flying by the seat of their pants with little over two weeks to organize they have done a remarkable job of getting the area sitting up and paying attention to what I suspect city hall figured would be just another slam dunk.

City hall has been taught for the most part they can get away with just about anything with little to no public push back. A $72 million water plant and $16 million annex comes quickly to mind. These two projects for the most part barely caused a ripple on the pond but the loss of Colliery Dam and the lakes they create were not going to go unnoticed, even if the local press started playing the official city tune from the get-go.

A retired engineer who is a part of this grass roots group was able to explain what the studies the city commissioned say and don't say about the condition of the dams and the alternatives to improve the level of safety. Needless to say they disagree with the conclusions of city staff who ultimately are the ones who have swayed council in their decision.

If city council can't figure out that in-camera meetings and not engaging the public is the best way to get things done they really haven't learned a thing since the low barrier housing fiasco. You can't keep making decisions in secret and then just think you can ramrod it through without ruffling a few feathers.

You can expect to hear much more from this group as they get themselves organized and focused in their fight with city hall to save the Colliery Dams. Tactics to apply political pressure were discussed as well as the possibility of a full on occupation similar to the Friends fo the Clayquot action were not ruled out.

City councilors and city staff will always tell you how keen they are for participatory democracy. We'll see!


Nanaimo & Saanich Challenge Ferries Assessment

Both Nanaimo City Council and North Saanich District Council yesterday endorsed recommendations to jointly appeal a recent decision of the Property Assessment Appeal Board regarding the Horseshoe Bay terminal in West Vancouver.  This decision reduced the assessed values of the upland (non-maritime) property from more than $47 million in 2012 to only $20.00. This will result in the District of West Vancouver having to pay back more than $750,000 for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 taxation years.

Although this decision will not immediately impact the City of Nanaimo, it previews what could happen should BC Ferries appeal the assessments of their terminals.  In 2012, BC Ferries paid approximately $1.1 million in property taxes on the three terminals in Nanaimo. The appeal is of immediate concern to North Saanich given it is already under appeal from BC Ferries. In North Saanich for 2012 the amount was approximately $395,000 on the Schwartz Bay terminal.

It is unusual for one municipality to appeal an assessment ruling in another jurisdiction.  In this case, Council of both municipalities believe that being a participant in the process is the best way to protect the interests of all Nanaimo and North Saanich citizens.  It is also a way to support BC Assessment and the District of West Vancouver, who have already filed their own appeals of the Property Assessment Appeal Board decision. Nanaimo and North Saanich will participate jointly in this appeal, sharing legal resources and costs.

Mayor John Ruttan says “Council believes that it is important that every property bear its fair share of the cost of the services that are provided by local government. We think that this is the best way to ensure this outcome in this instance.”

Mayor Alice Finall of North Saanich endorsed that statement.   She stated further: “Acting jointly in this manner should improve the possibility of a fair outcome for our two municipalities.  For both, the sharing of costs and legal resources in pursuing a common aim makes good sense.”