Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Nanaimo Rotary Club Giant Used Book Sale

100,000 Titles To Choose From
Sale On May 3 - May 12, 2013
Nanaimo North Town Centre

Book Sale Price List

  • Pocket Books ..... $2.00 ea. or 3 for $5.00
  • Harlequin Romance..... 5 for $2.00
  • Large Paperback & Hardcover..... $3.00 ea.
  • Cookbooks ..... $1.00 ea.
  • Children's ..... $1.00 ea.

The huge Rotary Club of Nanaimo twice annual book sale helps the Rotary Club support many worthwhile Nanaimo programs, just some of which include:
  • Raise A Reader
  • Nanaimo Minor Baseball
  • Nanaimo Museum Society
  • Inner Schools PAC's
  • Georgia Avenue
  • Fairview
  • Bayview
  • Chase River
  • Park Avenue
  • John Barsby
  • Haven House 
  • Nanaimo Hospice Society
  • Bursaries - High School
  • Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation
  • Nanaimo Marine Rescue
  • Kids Sport Nanaimo
  • Island Crisis Care Society
  • Nanaimo Telephone Visiting Society
  • Upper Vancouver Island Music Festival Bursaries
  • Literacy Nanaimo
If you would like to contribute to this valuable program you may donate any of your unwanted books anytime during the year, by simply dropping them off at the collection bin by the London Drugs Mall entrance in Nanaimo North Town Centre.

Nanaimo North Town Centre also generously makes storage space available for the Rotary Club to store the donated books between sale times.


Walter Anderson Answers Candidate Questions

1. What do you see as the one most pressing problem facing Nanaimo?

- Lack of economic opportunity

2. What do you see as the most promising opportunity facing Nanaimo?

- The potential to attract knowledge-based, creative, hi-tech and other green industry because of our easy access to the lower mainland and great quality of life

3. In your opinion is the Nanaimo median household income good, bad or of no consequence?

- Unacceptably poor, should be 20% higher

4. Do you feel the Nanaimo harbour should be leased to a private company?

- It would depend on the benefits to the community and terms assuring no loss of ownership or control. Community input essential to future plans for the harbor.

5. What is your opinion on the standard that the dam safety branch is applying to the Colliery Dams?

- Dam safety branch standards need serious reconsideration in this case. 1 in 10,000 years? Seriously? All proper caution must be exercised but the heritage and aesthetic value of this asset is far too precious to lose. Let’s work on solutions without confrontation.

6. Do you feel the province, municipalities, regional districts and private owners/operators can afford the costs to meet this standard?

- In my opinion, with the information at hand – certainly not.

7. Can the province provide any stimulus that could improve the employment opportunities for young people wishing to make Nanaimo their home?

- The province should help foster an economic environment that will help attract the kinds of businesses that employ a predominance of young workers coming here to develop new businesses and their careers.

8. Does the current basic housing allowance for those on social assistance provide adequate housing for those in need of this service in Nanaimo?

- No

9. Does the basic allowance to those on social assistance provide adequate resources to meet the necessities of life in Nanaimo?

- No. Unacceptable, as above.

10. Is there anything you can do to facilitate a more robust use of the Nanaimo cruise ship terminal?

- Help support the marketing plans of the Port Authority, Tourism Nanaimo and NEDC. Work with provincial tourism authorities. With Victoria attracting some 200 ships a year, there is clearly plenty of business out there. Nanaimo is a work in progress.

11. Is there anything you can do to facilitate the establishment of a downtown to downtown ferry service.

- I would focus on getting this service operating cost-effectively as a priority of my first term. It is necessary to help assure financial success for private operators to make it happen. The province must have several avenues where support could be found. A downtown-to-downtown ferry service is integral to Nanaimo’s economic and tourism success.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Things On The Net That Make Ya' Smile

Latest In Power Windows??


Don't Touch or Move Newborn Wild Animals

Leave newborn wildlife in the wild

When it comes to newborn wild animals, mother always knows best, and so with fawning and calving season underway, provincial biologists are reminding people that newborn deer, elk or moose should not be touched or moved when encountered.

People who find these newborns alone often mistakenly believe they have been abandoned, but usually they have only been left there temporarily by their mother, who will return. Intervening in these situations by “rescuing” the fawn or calf is rarely necessary and will usually do more harm than good.

It is normal for mother deer, elk and other ungulates to leave their young alone for long periods, returning a few times a day to nurse and relying on the newborn’s lack of scent to protect them from predators. Returning mothers that find humans or pets nearby may leave or can become aggressive to defend their offspring from the perceived threat. The mother will return if the young is left alone.

Although these newborns may appear abandoned, it is rarely the case, and if they are removed they will be orphaned. While professional wildlife rehabilitation facilities in some areas of B.C. can successfully rear these newborns, there is no maternal care and their chances of survival are far less than if they had been raised by their true mother.

This is true not just for deer; many mammals leave their young alone for long periods of time, only to return to feed them at regular intervals. So, if you encounter a young deer or calf in the wild at this time of the year, appreciate the experience, but don’t approach or intervene.

If you find a fawn or calf that you think may be orphaned, here’s what you should do:

·         If it is lying quietly, leave it alone and leave the area. Your presence will discourage the mother from returning.

·         Keep all children and especially dogs away from the area.

·         If you think the fawn or calf is not being cared for by its mother, return the next day to check. If it is in the exact same spot, it may be injured or orphaned. Contact a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible, but do not touch or move the animal.

·         Do not touch or feed the animal.

To find a wildlife rehabilitator near you, visit the Wildlife Rehabilitators Network of British Columbia at:their website HERE.


Nanaimo Water Use Lower Than National Average

Water audit completed: Nanaimo water use below national average

The City has completed its first Water Audit to better understand water consumption and demands. The first stage of the audit involved analysis of water meter information to determine how much water is used by various user types. The second stage involved field work to validate the results from the desk top analysis.

The results were very encouraging. Nanaimo residents on average use 251 litres of water per person per day, below the provincial and national averages (353 litres/person/day and 274 litres/person/day respectively). The total commercial, residential and industrial average water use is 492 litres per person per day which is also below provincial and national averages (606 litres/person/day and 510 litres/person/day respectively).

The study found that the City’s 620km of water supply and distribution piping is ‘tight’ and well maintained. The Water Audit identified leakage as less than 10%, lower than many other Canadian municipalities.

Key findings from the study include: the City’s bulk water meters are accurate, which validates the Audit’s findings; that half of the City’s industrial and commercial water meters are oversized and under recording; residential water meters in the City have an average age of 14 years and were found to be 98% accurate, but lose accuracy after 24 years. (Residents and businesses should note that inaccurate water meters tend to read low.)

The Water Audit report provided the following key recommendations:
  • Updating the City Engineering Standards to include specifications for correct large diameter water meter sizing.
  • Allocate additional funding to replace older residential meters and oversized larger commercial and industrial water meters resulting in significant savings over the long term
  • Undertake future audits to monitor trends in consumption and losses.
Findings from the Water Audit report are being incorporated into the City’s Water Conservation Strategy update.


BookFest 2013 in Nanaimo

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The DNBIA is a proud sponsor of BookFest which will be held  Saturday May 4th, 2013 at Diana Krall Plaza

Downtown Nanaimo will welcome the creators of some of Canada’s best children’s literature to the 27th annual Vancouver Island Children’s Book Festival. The fun-packed family event will feature authors, illustrators, storytellers and even musicians.

For the third year in a row, BookFest is taking place in and around Diana Krall Plaza and downtown organizations are getting involved. Nanaimo Art Gallery, Nanaimo Conference Center, Nanaimo Museum, OmTown Yoga, The Port Theatre, and Nanaimo Harbourfront Library are acting as venues to this well-loved festival.

The participation of these downtown partners is vital to the success of BookFest as organizers prepare to welcome over 500 people to a total of 18 dynamic presentations by nine authors.

Tickets are available at The Port Theatre www.porttheatre.com 250-754-8550. For more information visit www.bookfest.ca


Signs of Spring Around Nanaimo

Local photo artist Sheryl Falls captured some sure signs Spring has arrived in Nanaimo recently.

The top photo shows two Canada geese battling for a nesting site at Pipers Lagoon while the bottom picture shows a honey bee sampling a Bachelor Button in full bloom.

"Let me tell ya' about the birds and the bees"......

More of Sheryl's work can be seen HERE.


Saturday, April 27, 2013

BC Economic Snapshot April 27, 2013

 BC Under-performs Most Provinces

VANCOUVER, BC, Apr. 27, 2013/ Troy Media/ – Retail sales in B.C. edged lower in February following a January bounce, but held within the narrow range observed since mid-2012. Total current-dollar sales reached a seasonally-adjusted $5.11 billion during February marking a 0.4 per cent dip from the previous month.

B.C. underperformed most other provinces and was one of only two to record a monthly decline – a marked contrast to the acceleration in Canadian retail growth of 0.8 per cent. Same-month sales tumbled 4.2 per cent from 2012, but year-over-year comparisons were distorted by the additional sales day associated with leap year in 2012.

Lower discretionary spending in electronics/appliances, clothing and general merchandise has tempered retail sales activity in recent quarters. However, a mild rebound in home furnishing sales and higher gasoline prices provided an offset.

February’s retail report was a repeat of the theme in recent quarters. Retailers are being pinched by weak consumer demand. Population and employment growth is low, home prices have dipped and credit growth has decelerated sharply amidst elevated debt levels– not a tasty recipe for robust retail gains.

Through the first two months of 2013, current-dollar retail volume was down 0.7 per cent from 2012. We expect modest retail sales growth this year of about 2 per cent despite current weakness.

Growth in personal income and the shift back to a PST will likely boost the retail economy, particularly in the latter half of the year.
| Central 1 Credit Union


Walk A Mile In Her Shoes Nanaimo Fundraiser

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To Register For This Year's Event CLICK HERE


Friday, April 26, 2013

Western Canada Cup Schedule Apr. 27 - May 5

April 27 - May 5, 2013 In Nanaimo

Click Images To Visit Website


Things On The Net That Make Ya' Smile

Stress Relief ....
Hot Bubble Bath .... check
Well Chilled Six-pack .... check
Drowning Avoidance Device .... check


Questions To Nanaimo Provincial Candidates

Follows are questions I have posed to Nanaimo provincial election candidates, with candidates answers to follow. These questions are specific to Nanaimo and not necessarily the 'big picture' issues of how to run the province but what their opinions are about local matters.

1. What do you see as the one most pressing problem facing Nanaimo?
2. What do you see as the most promising opportunity facing Nanaimo?
3. In your opinion is the Nanaimo median household income good, bad or of no consequence?
4. Do you feel the Nanaimo harbour should be leased to a private company?
5. What is your opinion on the standard that the dam safety branch is applying to the Colliery Dams?
6. Do you feel the province, municipalities, regional districts and private owners/operators can afford the costs to meet this standard?
7. Can the province provide any stimulus that could improve the employment opportunities for young people wishing to make Nanaimo their home?
8. Does the current basic housing allowance for those on social assistance provide adequate housing for those in need of this service in Nanaimo?
9. Does the basic allowance to those on social assistance provide adequate resources to meet the necessities of life in Nanaimo?
10. Is there anything you can do to facilitate a more robust use of the Nanaimo cruise ship terminal?
11. Is there anything you can do to facilitate the establishment of a downtown to downtown ferry service.

 Leonard Krog NDP

1. Unemployment and poverty, which affect so many families.
2. The possibility of increasing employment in a revitalized forest industry.
3. The median household income is obviously very low and significant social consequences flow from a lack of income.
4. My view is it should remain under public control for general public benefit.
5. The standard may in fact be high but I await all of the experts reports and any decision must be based on public safety with broad community consultation.
6. This is not a question I can answer with any clarity and would require a lot more information. An opinion without information and facts is not useful for anyone.
7. Certainly the province can but given economic pressures, it would not be as substantial as I would like.
8. The basic housing allowance is thoroughly inadequate as it is everywhere in the province.
9. No it certainly does not.
10. Work with a revitalized Tourism BC and existing agencies/groups to lure even more cruise ships to our underutilized facility.
11. It appears there may be a service in the wings and if not I will work with and support any initiative private or public that will see a downtown foot passenger service.


Nanaimo Youth Week Activities

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Public Spending Debate Needed In Canada

VANCOUVER, BC, Apr. 25, 2013/ Troy Media/ - With governments collectively racking up almost $46 billion in deficits last year and continuing to struggle with health care costs as the population ages, both governments and citizens are concerned that tax dollars are spent wisely.

One of the major costs for governments is the compensation of public sector workers. That’s why we recently released a series of papers comparing wages and benefits in the public sector with the private sector. Unfortunately, the issue of compensation differences often gets lost in name-calling and ad hominen attacks. Canada needs a real debate on government spending and how to solve our deficits and debt rather than a contest of who can scream the loudest.

Our study, which relies on previously-published academic papers and widely accepted approaches to measuring differences in wages, calculated that, on average, public sectors workers in Canada receive a 12 per cent wage premium compared to similar positions in the private sector. The analysis relied on Statistics Canada data from the monthly Labour Force Survey (LFS) and controlled for a host of factors such as gender, age, work experience, tenure in position, occupation, industry, and union status.

In addition, our work also examined differences in non-wage benefits like pensions. In 2011, 88.2 per cent of the public sector was covered by a registered pension compared to 24.0 per cent of the private sector. Of those public sector workers covered by a pension, 94.0 per cent were covered by a defined benefit pension, which means they were guaranteed a benefit (i.e. income) in retirement. Just 52.3 per cent of private sector workers who were covered by a pension enjoyed such a benefit. Not surprisingly given the difference in pensions, public sector workers retired earlier than workers in the private sector.

There are 3.6 million public sector workers in Canada and 74.5 per cent of those are unionized. One of the most powerful and vocal unions in the country is the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Paul Moist, CUPE president, has been one of the harshest critics of our work. Unfortunately, his opposition to the study is both misinformed and, worse, based largely on fiery rhetoric and name-calling.

Of all the criticisms raised by Moist, only one is legitimate. It is the question of using the LFS versus the Census, which is what CUPE relied on in a recent study. (It also found a wage premium in the public sector but a smaller one than we calculated).

The sample in the LFS is smaller than the Census but still contains nearly 53,000 Canadians. Additionally, the LFS is the main source for a wide-array of labour statistics regularly used by government bureaucrats and economists. If there is a sampling problem with the LFS, it affects more than just our study.

At the same time Moist ignores or is unaware of a major deficiency in the Census when trying to compare public and private sector compensation: it doesn’t ask respondents whether they work in the public or private sector. Without such information, researchers must make an educated guess about who are public and private sector workers based on the industry they work in and their occupation. For example, under the CUPE approach, somebody who works at BC Hydro could incorrectly be considered in the private sector.

Additionally, the CUPE study excludes large job classes like teachers. The rationale is that such occupations reside almost exclusively in the public sector. The data tells a different story. More than 11 per cent of students in British Columbia, for example, attend independent schools and are taught by teachers outside of the public sector. Coincidentally, this is a job in which public sector workers enjoy a wage premium.

Moist has also repeatedly stated that our work ignores occupations. Had Moist actually reviewed our response or examined the LFS survey, he would find it includes 25 occupational classes (based on the 2006 National Occupational Classification).

It’s also interesting to note that a 2000 study by the University of Toronto’s Morley Gunderson, a leading researcher in this field, along with his colleagues, used both the LFS and Census data to compare wages in the private and public sector. They calculated an average public sector wage premium of roughly nine per cent using both data sources.

There is no doubt that governments across the country are struggling with deficits and increasingly need to examine current spending to ensure value-for-money. Persistent wage and benefit premiums in the public sector is something governments will have to tackle eventually. Having an informed, mature debate about the subject is a starting point. We welcome such debate but unfortunately, Moist’s approach is none-of-the-above.

 By Jason Clemens and Milagros Palacios The Fraser Institute
Jason Clemens and Milagros Palacios are co-authors of a series of recent papers comparing wages and benefits in the private and public sectors. They can be found at www.fraserinstitute.org



Nanaimo Hospice Dance Fundraiser

Clients Help Meet Funding For New Home

Former clients of the Nanaimo Community Hospice Society are hosting a dance this Saturday to help raise funds to complete the purchase of the society's new home.

The society purchased the old Montessori school building on St. George Cresents having outgrown thier current home on Boundary Cresent. They still need another $200,000 to meet their $900,000 goal.

The new centre will offer respite for palliative patients and caregivers where they can spend four or five hours during a day. Offering entertainment, guest speakers, lunch and a great new sundeck as well as a therapeutic garden area they offer a much needed oasis during difficult times.

The dance will be held Saturday, April 27 at 7:00 pm at Branch 256 Legion, 1630 East Wellington Road. Food, live music and a silent auction fill out the night. The tickets are $20 available at the door.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nanaimo Ratepayers Association Registered

The first meeting of the newly formed Nanaimo Ratepayers Association was held at the home of Donald Graham of Nanaimo on April 17.

The NRPA will monitor the spending and projects of the City of Nanaimo municipal government and report to citizens on the value of city government spending and the financial status of the city. The NRPA will also encourage citizen participation in municipal politics and government.

The NRPA was formed in response to numerous issues concerning the City of Nanaimo's council including the Colliery Dams, recently announced residential property tax increases, the lack of a core review, and large spending increases by the City on staff salaries and benefits.

The group has registered as a society under the BC Societies' Act and is accepting memberships from members of the community. They are planning their first public meeting for sometime in mid to late May of this year.

Contact Nanaimo Ratepayers Association via email at


BC Small Business Optimistic

BC small business confidence up two more points in April
 British Columbia’s optimism defies national trend

British Columbia’s Business Barometer ™ index climbed two points in April over March in the face of an overall Canadian decline, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). BC’s small business optimism rose to 67.6 from 65.7 in March, while the national barometer slid slightly to 62.4. Index levels between 65 and 75 generally indicate a growing economy.

 "This marks the third consecutive month of increasing optimism for small businesses in British Columbia, which is going against the greater national trend," said Mike Klassen, CFIB BC Director of Provincial Affairs. “In fact, British Columbia now ranks second nationwide in terms of business confidence, and this is a dramatic improvement from where we were as recently as a few months ago.”

 BC is now in second place nationwide in terms of business confidence, up from fifth in March. Only Newfoundland & Labrador ranks higher, with a barometer index of 69.1.

 When reporting the current state of their business, 34 per cent responded “Good” versus 17 per cent who answered “Bad”, with the remaining 49 per cent choosing “Satisfactory”, essentially unchanged from the previous month. 

 Report highlights:

• 24 per cent of BC respondents expect to increase full-time employment in the next three months, versus 7 per cent anticipating reduction. This is a four point drop in intention to increase over last month, which in turn was the highest level surveyed in several years.

• Taxes and regulation was cited as the major cost constraint by 66 per cent of respondents, followed by fuel and energy at 53 per cent.

• 48 per cent say that insufficient domestic demand is their main limitation on sales or production growth.

 All of this is outlined and illustrated in the Business Barometer for March. The national report, including a comparison chart of CFIB’s business barometer and GDP, can be found at http://www.cfib.ca/barometer/


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Black Squirrels In Nanaimo

Cute Little Critter or
A Rat with a Bushy Tail?

Being a displaced Ontario guy, I grew up seeing black squirrels in most parks and residential areas of the city. They were as common as sidewalks and mature walnut trees in the older parts of the city.

Having lived in Nanaimo since 1970, this is the first year I can remember starting to see these little black critters in my neighbourhood, and their numbers are definitely increasing and they have definitely moved in.

While I am sure this is a delight for many, they are not without their problems. The first being the fact they are not native and will drive out the smaller red squirrels. They are also not the friend of baby birds in the nest. If they find a way into your attic they can also be quite destructive as they will gnaw their way in and can even damage your electrical wiring.

I live in the Terminal Park area and there are at least three regulars who are seen with much greater frequency. I know my bird feeders are a feature they like, but thought the one hanging on my clothesline would deter the little darlings but apparently they are quite the tight rope artists as I see them quite often chowing down on my bird feed.

Like the deer these little critters may be a nice addition to the flavour of the community, but they do bring with them a certain nuisance factor. Just ask any red squirrel you happen to know.


Nanaimo Residential Tax Hike 2.9% not 1.9%

With RDN, School and Hospital Tax
Increase Will Exceed 2.9%

City councillors will quickly tell you they think they are doing a good job by holding this year's tax increase to 1.9%. They seem to feel the public is gullible enough to not realize the 1.9% increase is the 'blended' increase which sees industrial taxes reduced by 24.2%! Residential taxpayers will see their contribution to the city go up well over 3% by the time you factor in the increased user fees (taxes by another name) and the levy for RDN, School and Hospital taxes.

They are also singing the song that if it weren't for the 'special' asset management levy of 1% we'd really be in great shape! Only the city of Nanaimo senior staff and this city council would try and convince us that properly funding our water, sewer and roads is the only reason our taxes are going up!

I thought that properly funding our water, sewer and roads is what they were supposed to be taking care of FIRST, before giving themselves obscene wage and benefit increases, and shiny new $16 milliion offices!

Sadly, it seems this city council is unable to do anything but put a rubber stamp on whatever recommendation comes from Mr. Kenning.


Labour Shortage Impacting Small Business

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Half of entrepreneurs in Western Canada say they are forgoing business opportunities
A new report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) shows a serious shortage of qualified people is impeding the growth and success of small and medium-sized businesses in Western Canada.  Most notably, half of the entrepreneurs in the West say they are giving up business opportunities as a result of the shortage of labour and skills. 
“In British Columbia, 72 per cent of small business owners who were looking to hire within the last three years say they had difficulty, while 34 per cent believe finding new employees is only going to become more difficult,” said Mike Klassen, CFIB’s BC Director.
As a result of a shortage of qualified people, more than half (51 per cent) of small and medium-sized businesses in the Western provinces and territories have had to pass up new business opportunities.  Business owners also say the labour shortage means they are working longer hours (71 per cent) and is causing increased labour costs (59 per cent), reduced productivity (53 per cent), and deteriorating customer service (48 per cent).
The report also reveals certain positions are particularly difficult to fill. Small businesses have the most difficulty hiring for skilled and technical positions that usually require a college education or apprenticeship training (43 per cent).  In contrast, only five per cent say they have the most difficulty hiring for professional positions that typically require a university education. 
The top 10 types of employees small and medium-sized businesses are looking for include: salespeople, construction workers, auto mechanics, service staff, general labourers, truck drivers, service technicians, welders, office staff and general managers.
“In British Columbia, 62 per cent of entrepreneurs are hiring underqualified workers, 49 per cent are forgoing new business opportunities, 42 per cent are increasing salaries and benefits, 28 per cent are investing even more in training, and 17 per cent are recruiting outside of Canada,” Klassen added. 
“There is no silver bullet solution to solving this significant and growing challenge. Policy-makers  have begun to respond, but much more needs to be done to help employers find the qualified people they need to build their business and grow our economy,” Klassen ended.


Multiplex Delegation Meets With City Council

City provided presentation on sports and entertainment facility from delegation

In the interest of receiving information on the construction and operation of sports and entertainment facilities in BC and across Canada, Council members and City staff met on Monday with a delegation comprised of Ron Robison, Commissioner of the Western Hockey League; Alan Lowe, Former Mayor of Victoria; Graham Lee and Dave Dakers of RG Properties and Ken Wagner of the Nanaimo Clippers.

“The presentation gave Council members and staff an opportunity to hear details on the business interests surrounding these facilities as well as the chance to ask questions”, said Nanaimo City Mayor, John Ruttan. “At this time, no decisions have been made”.

Staff members are currently writing a report examining the construction and operation of sports and entertainment facilities in other communities across Canada. This report will be presented to Council at a forthcoming public meeting.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Proposals Would Result In Zero Tax Increase

The following is the list of spending reductions proposed by Councillor Bestwick, Kipp and McKay which would result in no tax increases for the 2013 budget period. This would result in a zero tax increase for this year.

This is not unlike what individual households or different departments in the private sector have to deal with all the time to keep their financial house in order. Unlike the city of Nanaimo, we do not all have the luxury of simply raising our income to meet our spending wants.

Police & Protective Services
  • Reduce RCMP by $250,000
  • Reduce Fire Services by $300,000

Publlic Works and Engineering
  • Reduce #1 Reservoir by $250,000
  • Reduce WTP by $250,000

Parks and Recreation
  • Reduce P & R by $400,000
  • Reduce spray park Departure Bay by $100,000

Strategic Relations
  • Reduce by $125,000
  • Reduce 50% of NEDC budget surplus

  • Reduce by $100,000

Corporate Services
  • Reduce by $100,000
  • Reduce excluded staff benefits by $75,000

Human Resources
  • Reduce by $75,000
  • Reduce Mayor, Council and excluded staff salary by 1%

Property and Real Estate
  • Redirect $250,000 from Dufferin sale to taxes

This would remove $2.2 million from the 2013 budget which does not include the 1% reduction to Mayor and Council and excluded staff.

There is also the opportunity to remove another $1.4 million by eliminating the Boxwood Connector.


Councillors Try To Cut Taxes!

Councillors Bestwick, Kipp and McKay
Attempt To Cut Taxes
Balance Of Council Still Resist

You may recall several weeks ago that Councillor's Bestwick, Kipp and McKay tried unsuccessfully to get council to direct staff to find up to a 5% reduction in the budget.

To their credit they are trying once again, this time rather than asking staff to find areas of fiscal restraint they took it upon themselves to present a list to fellow councillors. Councillor Anderson was unprepared to even discuss the proposed cuts (having only been considering the budget since last Dec.) and moved that the matter be tabled to the next council meeting. It is notable that Councillor Anderson is one of the Councillors who as yet has not answered by query as to what measures he is considering to cut taxes. Clearly, reducing spending is not on his radar.

It is understandable if some Councillors simply don't know how to even read and interpret a financial report, or perhaps are simply too lazy to do so, who then will simply ask Mr. Kenning if it is a good budget and simply take his advice.

Unfortunately, this council seems to be over populated this time around with a tax and spend mentality, that frankly is quite disturbing.

By tabling this motion, it immediately meant that the staff recommendation to give three readings to the Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw was also tabled, thus triggering the need for one more special council meeting between now and budget adoption time in May.

The vote to table the staff's recommendation caused a bit of confusion for the Mayor, who apparently voted to table the motion, even though that is not likely what he had meant to do.

It could have been resolved if this council was actually prepared to debate the current financial plan, which seems something they are unwilling or unable to do. There has not been any debate about this $851,000,000 document which makes me wonder if anyone but the 'Three Amigos' actually understand the plan they are adopting.

Perhaps they are avoiding public debate of this matter to avoid the embarrassment that their lack of knowledge might reveal should they actually open their mouths and say what they think.


Nanaimo Empire Days Parade Bigger Than Ever!

Parade YOUR Business or Organization Before
Thousands of Nanaimo Residents!

The Nanaimo Empire Days Society's 146th annual Downtown Parade is shaping up to be one of the best ever PLUS some exciting new additions for family fun. Parade applications will be accepted from businesses, organizations or groups up until Friday May 3rd. 

This is an excellent way to get exposure and to join in this popular community event that is witnessed by thousands every year.The parade entry list to date consists of marching bands, floats, always popular animal entries, clowns, car  clubs and of course our dignitaries.

The exciting new extras added to this Sundays Parade calendar include many family activities for the kids at the downtown Diana Krall Plaza from 10 to 2....rides and fun things plus a Kinsmen Pancake Breakfast.ALSO this year at approx. 12:45 and basically following the parade route will be the Bastion Running Club Bastion Mile Road Race.

So, don't just come down...be a part of the parade. For Parade Entries or more information before deadline go on the Nanaimo Empire Days Society web site or contact Parade Chairperson directly at dianalilley@telus.netor phone her at 250-716-9288


Monday, April 22, 2013

Things On The Net That Make Ya' Smile

Some of the planning department's best work?


All BC Candidates Election Soapbox

Click Image To Visit No Vote No Voice Website
 Tuesday May 14, 2013 Is Election Day In BC

To allow you to make an informed and enlightened choice that day the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) offers you this virtual soapbox of candidates and their platforms. No Vote No Voice is a free service offered to all candidates running for election from the Malahat in the south to the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island.

A non-partisan venue, No Vote No Voice showcases candidate presentations divided by riding and listed alphabetically. Offered as either written documents or as streaming video presentations, the statements offered here are solely those of the participating candidates. So please take a moment and learn what the people wanting to represent you have to say.


Fair Coming To Nanaimo North Town Centre

Enjoy The Fair In April
April 24 - 28

Westcoast Amusements is coming!  Bring the family to the fair and enjoy your favorite fair food and rides!

Ticket Prices:

Wednesday and Thursday - Regular Ticket pricing and coupon ($6 rides for $15)  pick up your coupon at the Administration Office Monday - Friday 9am to 5pm.

Friday - Wristband - $28
Saturday - Wristband - $32
Sunday - Wristband - $28
Event Date & Times:
Wed. April 24 - 5pm to 10pm
Thu. April 25 & Fri. April 26 - 3pm to 10pm
Sat. April 27 - noon to 10pm
Sun. April 28 - noon to 6pm

For More Details Contact: The Administration Office at 250-758-8111


Do Bylaw Officers Understand Parking Concept?

Using 2 Hour FREE Parking Spot

Saturday morning found me downtown enjoying one of the many great spots for coffee and conversation. Being frugal or as my wife says cheap, I always try to snag one of the free 2 hour parking spots on Victoria Crescent.

I was lucky enough to grab a spot two cars behind this City of Nanaimo Bylaw Enforcement vehicle which was occupying one of the 'free' spots right across from the community policing office on Victoria Crescent. The vehicle was there when I arrived and still there when I left one hour and fifty minutes later.

Now, of course the City of Nanaimo has no worries about getting a parking ticket if they occupy this spot for more than two hours, but that was not what really bugged me. I know, I know, I should take a chill pill and let it go, right?

Well, that is just not my nature and it steams me a little that the new $31.00/hr. meter maids we have hired to enforce parking downtown and be 'ambassadors' for the city don't seem to understand the concept behind FREE 2 hr. parking and how it is supposed to work to the benefit of merchants downtown.

The concept behind having a two hour restriction on the parking spaces is to insure people will not occupy the spots too long, thereby giving others wanting to do business downtown the chance to use the FREE parking spots. The alternative being plugging a one armed bandit occupying most of the downtown parking zones.

Clearly this bylaw officer could have occupied one of the metered spots on Albert Street, or for that matter the empty parking lot at city hall rather than burning up this FREE 2 hr. parking spot which is supposed to be for the benefit of struggling downtown merchants.

It is too bad that $60,000+/yr. meter maids aren't schooled in this concept!


Things In Nanaimo That Make Ya' Smile

Don't Like My Driving?
Who Ya' Gonna Call?


Popular Nanaimo Running Trails

Click on the above image to see a map and directions of popular Nanaimo running trails. Our  great outdoors is certainly one of Nanaimo's best features and this map offers lots of different ways of enjoying it and keeping healthy at the same time.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Van Isle 360 Race - June 8, 2013

Will Docks Still Be Closed?

With the recent collapse of the deal with PNWG to lease the inner harbour it raises the question of whether or not the NPA has enough cash in the bank to re-open this section of dock in time for the running of the Van Isle 360 yacht race.

The prestigious yacht race, which this year has 42 entrants registered starts and finishes in the Nanaimo harbour, drawing attention to the harbour city from far and wide. This year's event is being sponsored by the Black Press media group, the event used to be called the Cadillac Van Isle 360 but this year it is knows as the Black Press Van Isle 360.

I never determined if the closing of this dock was necessary or whether it was a move to convince the public that the docks desperately needed repairs that only private money could provide.

In any case the whole inner harbour deal courtesy of the NPA and their board of directors has turned out to be a lesson in the importance of getting the public onside rather than acting as if you are the king, and the harbour is your own personal kingdom.

I hope the 'kings' of downtown Nanaimo, willing to get a hotel built regardless of cost, are paying attention. If they are planning some back room, underhanded deal in order to circumvent the public process it could turn into a long hot summer after all.

Attitudes and public involvement seems to be changing for the better and some of the little tyrants used to getting their own way all the time, might be in for a rude awakening.


Nanaimo Weather April 22 - 28

Lots and Lots of Sunshine, Warm Temperatures & Blue Skies!!!


BC Economic Snapshot April 20, 2013

Shelter and Energy Lower
Housing Sales Off 17.7% Over 2012

VANCOUVER, BC, Apr. 20, 2013/ Troy Media/ – Consumer prices held steady in March as February’s uptick in B.C.’s consumer price index (CPI) by and large held up for another month.
Despite the stronger price profile, 12-month consumer price inflation decelerated to 0.5 per cent in March, following a previous month gain of 0.9 per cent, marking a reversion to the underlying trend observed since September.

Persistence of weak consumer price inflation in March reflected lower shelter and energy prices. While the price of gasoline has increased over the past couple of months, levels were down 0.6 per cent from the same-month in 2012, and natural gas was more than 5 per cent lower.

In contrast, growth in 12-month food prices of 2.5 per cent, led by fresh produce exceeded headline CPI growth. Inflationary pressures are expected to remain subdued in 2013, reflecting a backdrop of tempered retail spending, slow economic growth, and tame commodity prices.
Average full-year inflation is forecast to reach about 1 per cent this year as price levels edge higher.

B.C.’s struggling housing market recorded a modest gain in sales activity in March but remained within spitting distance of recent month lows. Total provincial MLS sales rose 6.6 per cent from February to reach a seasonally-adjusted 5,345 units, led by gains in Metro Vancouver and the Thompson-Okanagan region. Broad gains more than offset a dip in northern B.C. sales.

Despite monthly gains, which pushed monthly activity to the highest level since July, unadjusted activity was still 17.7 per cent lower than the same-month in 2012, while first quarter activity was down nearly 19 per cent.

Excluding the recessionary nadir of late- 2008/early-2009, home sales held near the lowest level in over a decade. Higher sales and a relatively low pace of new listings pared month-end active listings for a second consecutive month suggesting resale inventory has rolled over from late-2012 highs.

Market conditions firmed slightly in March but inventory remained high relative to the current sales pace and most markets in B.C. were mired in excessive inventory. Buyer’s market conditions have put a lid on home prices in the province. The average provincial MLS price fell 0.8 per cent from February to a seasonally-adjusted $512,100 and is within the 12-month range.

While more than 10 per cent below 2011 highs, average prices are highly volatile and changes can reflect shifts in the geographic distribution of provincial sales as well as the impact of price outliers.

The first quarter likely marked a cycle-bottom for home sales and we expect activity to trend higher for the remainder of the year. However, there is little to indicate an aggressive rebound.
Triggers of materially lower mortgage rates or rapid improvements in the economy are unlikely, while stagnant labour markets, tighter mortgage insurance rules and weak population growth will continue to impede demand.

Excess inventory will weigh on price levels, but further declines are expected to be modest. Sellers are generally in a position to be patient, given the persistence of low interest rates and steady employment, rather than sharply cut prices – which should limit supply growth.
Annual MLS sales are forecast to remain essentially unchanged from 2012 at 68,300 units.

New vehicle sales in fell in February following a January uptick but held within the range observed over the past 12-months. Total new vehicles sales in the B.C. and Territories dipped to a seasonally-adjusted 14,630 units in February, marking a 5.5 per cent drop from the previous month.

The decline was led by pull-back in truck sales as passenger car sales held steady, advancing 2.8 per cent. While total sales over the first two months of 2013 were about 2 per cent higher than the same period in 2012, the underlying sales trend has decelerated from mid-year.
A slow growth economy, elevated debt, and tepid population and employment gains have likely deflated consumer spending despite low financing costs and aggressive pricing incentives.
Vehicle sales are a secondary indicator for the provincial economy, given a lack of provincial production and a signal of consumer willingness to make large-scale purchases. A dampening of trend is consistent with deterioration in broader economic activity and subdued labour market conditions. Going forward, sales will likely being driven by replacement demand.

International tourist visits to B.C. held steady in February despite a dip in American entries as growth in the number of overseas visitors picked up the slack.

Total visits reached a seasonally-adjusted 357,660 tourists, up slightly from January and 5.7 per cent higher than February 2012. American visits slipped 1 per cent from the previous month.
February’s stable inflow of international visitors following a rebound in January suggests some positive momentum could be building in the tourism sector, contributing to acceleration in year-to-date gains to about 2.5 per cent.

However, overall levels remained low and broadly in line with post-recession levels. Tourism activity is expected to gradually rise through 2013 as improving economic conditions in the U.S. generate increased cross-border visits. But overall gains will be tempered by the elevated Canadian dollar and ongoing weakness in the European economy.
| Central 1 Credit Union


Keep Your Dog Leashed - It's The Law


Nanaimo’s natural areas are wonderful places for you and your dog to exercise and enjoy some solitude in the city.  However, some of these park systems are important habitats for wildlife, fish and the foreshore.  These parks require dogs to be on a leash.  While your dogs’ activities may seem harmless and fun, wildlife and their habitats are significantly impacted in ways that you may not be able to see.

Over 60% of Nanaimo’s Parks are natural areas with diverse ecosystems.  Even if your dog doesn’t chase wildlife in the natural parks, dogs that are off trails can disturb wild animals enough to deplete their precious energy preserves, which can cause malnutrition or death. Birds that nest on or near the ground are particularly susceptible to harm by off-leash dogs. Nests on the ground or in low shrubs are very difficult to see and your off-leash dog can easily destroy or dislodge them. Fragile amphibians and reptiles rely on clean, quiet water bodies for feeding and reproduction. While dogs may have fun splashing in the water, this activity can be detrimental to frogs and turtles. Also, remember that each dog is only one of hundreds that recreate in Nanaimo’s parks. While your pet may appear to have little impact on the landscape, the cumulative effects of all the dogs that visit the same area can be very significant.

Sensitive Natural Park Eco-Systems in Nanaimo include:

Richard’s Marsh Park
Piper’s Lagoon Park
Neck Point Park
Lost Lake Park
Linley Valley Park
Bowen Park
Third St. Park
Westwood Lake (except for designated off-leash area)
Walley Creek Park
Planta Park

Keeping your dog on leash in natural park areas is not only a responsible decision that protects wildlife and urban environment, it’s also the law.  City of Nanaimo ByLaws requires that dogs be leashed outside designated off-leash areas.  Violators can be fined $150 per dog.

For more information about dogs in Nanaimo parks and trails please visit www.nanaimo.ca.  Please contact Coastal Animal Services for questions or concerns about dogs 250-754-1397.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Things On The Net That Make Ya' Smile

Clearly They've Talked To My Wife!


Downtown Nanaimo Secrets of Success


Chances are if you are a lover of fine foods you are already well acquainted with McLean’s Specialty Foods, located at 426 Fitzwilliam Street. Open the screen door and step into a by-gone era where customer was king. Eric McLean, co-owner with his wife Sandy, came out from behind the counter to sit with us and talk about the long standing success of McLean’s Specialty Foods in the heart of the Old City Quarter in downtown Nanaimo.

DNBIA: How long have you been in business?
Eric: April 6th marked our 21th anniversary of business.

DNBIA: How many employees do you have?
Eric: We have three fulltime employees and three part-time; our chef Peter Connelly, Sandro, Kix, Kirsten, and Laura, plus Christy who is off on maternity leave. We hire seasonal help at Christmas.

DNBIA: Can you give us a short description of your business?
Eric: We are Vancouver Island’s Premier Cheese Shop and Specialty Foods Store, offering a unique, always-changing selection of fresh and imported delicacies and specialty food products, as well as between 120 and 150 varieties of cheese from around the world.

DNBIA: McLean’s Specialty Foods is well known in Nanaimo, tell us something about you personally that you think most people wouldn’t know.
Eric: When I was 16 my R&B band The Boots opened for the Yardbirds and the Kinks during a tour of Scotland. We also opened for the band that later changed their name to Ten Years After.

DNBIA: That is quite the leap. How do you get from being an R&B musician to being the proprietor of McLean’s Specialty Foods in Nanaimo?
Eric: At 16 I quit my job working as a grommet counter for Chrysler in Scotland and I began touring with The Sabres, one of the top groups in Scotland. Well, by 20 I was burned out and broke so I decided to settle down!

Fast forward to 1980, when I emigrated and came directly to B.C. where I joined Cadbury Schweppes as an Account Executive, and that is where I got much of my knowledge of marketing and promotions.

Eventually I met Sandy, a Victoria girl, and we were living in Vancouver but she missed the Island, so we would visit an old Scottish chum, Peter Connelly, who co-owned Marshall and Jeffries, a cooking store on Fitzwilliam Street here in Nanaimo. We hated getting on that last ferry on the weekend to go back to the mainland, so one Sunday afternoon as we were walking down to catch the ferry, we saw a house for sale on Wentworth Street and without even thinking about it much, we put in an offer. By the time we got home that night, we found out that we were the proud owners of house in Nanaimo, and we hadn’t sold the one in Vancouver yet!

After we moved over, I needed a job, and I started acting as a broker for companies including National Cheese. Having spent more than 10 years in the food business in BC, I had already established good relations with Thrifty Foods and other key people in the food business here.

DNBIA: Tell us how McLean’s got started.
Eric: Remember, at that time there was no Food Channel. Hardly anyone knew what balsamic vinegar was and here I was trying to convince grocery stores to sell good quality Italian pasta, extra virgin olive oil and Parmigiano Reggiano. I was the first in town to sell San Pellegrino, now it’s everywhere. Also I strongly believed that a town of Nanaimo’s growing size needed a good cheese shop.

Our friends, Peter and Merv used to do cooking classes at their shop Marshall and Jeffries, and from there I realized that there were people who were interested in a variety of quality products, but at that time, there was no place to get them in Nanaimo. Grocery stores certainly weren’t carrying them. This gave us a clientele before we even started. The rest was word of mouth. The support we got from other local businesses back then was amazing. Mladen Zorkin took out ads promoting us. He was our landlord and one of our biggest supporters.

DNBIA: What are your hours of operation?
Eric: We are open every day of the week! Monday to Friday 9:30 to 5:30 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday noon to 4:00 pm.

DNBIA: What are you best known for and why?
Eric: Well in January it is our Haggis Extravaganza. Early on I realised I needed a draw for January, a traditionally slow month in retail, and we built up one of our best months around Robbie Burns Day. We had three seatings here for our Haggis lunch on Robbie Burn’s Day this year. The other thing we are best known for is our extensive specialty cheese selection and through our Haggis Extravaganza we sold a huge 50 pound block of Scottish Cheddar.

DNBIA: What geographic region do you serve?
Eric: We sell all over Vancouver Island. A large part of that has to do with advertising in Eat Magazine. People from Victoria tell us they come to Nanaimo to get products they haven’t been able to source elsewhere. Of course, Nanaimo itself isn’t a big enough market for each ethnic group to have their own shop, so we carry products from all over the world.

We also have a surprising number of longtime customers from the Lower Mainland as well as regular boaters from all over Canada and the US who come to see us each year to stock up when they’re in town.

DNBIA: Why did you open your business downtown?
Eric: Simple, it was what the customer wanted. We thought about moving so we did a customer survey and they didn’t think we should move into a mall. Besides, I knew that you wouldn’t get the McLean’s experience in a mall – it’s too sterile. We get customers from all over the Island from Victoria to Port Hardy, as well as Gabriola, Denman, Hornby etc, so locating our store in the Old City Quarter makes sense. Customers no longer have to go to Victoria or Vancouver to get their special treats. We have become a destination shop.

Nanaimo has been good to us. I have been involved with the downtown revitalization for years, serving on various boards, including the Downtown Nanaimo Partnership and now the DNBIA. As well I cofounded the Old City Quarter Association, of which I am currently president. We recognize the importance of regional and provincial BIAs because they support the independent guy. Big box stores suck all the retail out of the centre of towns. Downtowns are the only places left with any character. To use a metaphor, downtown is the beating heart of the community – if the heart isn’t beating the rest of the body dies. People think the challenges we are facing with the local economy are unique to Nanaimo but large corporations are causing the same problems the world over.

DNBIA: Why should a customer choose your business?
Eric: We have built our clientele and our store around having a higher quality of product, strong product knowledge, and educating our customers. Our customers know that they are getting the best.
We try to get to know what our customers like, and try to have fun in the process.

DNBIA: What keeps your customers coming back?
Eric: Taste. When I opened the store I filled the store with stuff I liked. I did this because if you believe in something yourself you can honestly recommend it, which makes it easier to sell. This builds trust, which is the key ingredient to our relationships with our customers.

DNBIA: What advice would you give to someone starting a new business?
Eric: Do your homework. Study your chosen market to determine if there is need for your product or service. Identify your target customers and treat them like your survival depends on it, because it does.
I tell all our staff, I sign the pay cheque but the customer pays it, always remember that. If you don’t have any customers, you may as well stay home.

DNBIA: During this interview you have stopped to greet every single customer who has come into the store. It’s obvious you care about them.
Eric: I think it is really important to acknowledge customers as they walk through the door. They want to know you are interested in them. We try to learn the person’s name; we try to learn what they like. We have to be competitive and we have to have an edge. When customers feel that we know and remember them and what they want, that sets us apart from other stores. When people feel they are being attended to and appreciated they feel good. This concept of selling has been lost over the years. It really is about trust and respect.

DNBIA: What about your business makes you the most proud?
Eric: For twenty-one years, every single day that I have been here, a half dozen or more people have walked through those doors and said, “Wow, this is fantastic. It’s so unique”. If you’re looking for encouragement or reinforcement that you are doing something right – that’s it. It’s what keeps me in business.


Nanaimo Provincial Candidates Forum

 Chamber of Commerce Hosts Candidates Forum

The Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a Nanaimo provincial election candidates forum on Tuesday April 23 at the Coast Bastion Inn from 7:00 - 9:00 pm.

The public is welcome to attend this forum which will be attended by Conservative Bryce Crigger, NDP incumbent Leonard Krog, Green Party Ian Gartshore, Liberal Walter Anderson and Independent Brunie Brunie.

You may submit questions before the forum by fax to 250-756-1584 or via email to info@nanaimochamber.bc.ca or using the online form found at www.nanaimochamber.bc.ca. Only writen submissions are accepted and questions will be scrutinized and asked by a moderator at the forum.