Tuesday, December 30, 2014

911 Is For Emergencies Not Broken WiFi

This Canadian Press story reports that people calling 911 to report broken WiFi connections was the biggest nuisance call received by E-Comm during 2014 The 911 call centre handles about 2600 calls per day and while most are for real emergencies they also have to deal with nuisance calls such as reporting a broken WiFi connection at a coffee shop.

Other 'shake-your-head' calls they get include wanting a replacement slice of pizza, ordering a cab, wanting to know the date or even wanting help finding lost glasses.

Maybe it is a sign of the times and the addictive power of being online that results in people equating a broken WiFi connection with a house fire or vehicle accident.


British Columbians Will Have To Dig Deeper In 2015

An article in the Vancouver Sun quotes the Canadian Tax Federation as warning British Columbians they will have to dig deeper in 2015 to keep up with the coming increases from a variety of sources.

CTF spokesman Jordan Bateman notes that with MSP, EI, CPP, BC Hydro, ICBC and BC Ferries all going up it is no wonder that BC is joked as short for 'Bring Cash'.

Nanaimo residents can look forward to the perennial property tax increases, the water, sewer and garbage increases as well as the RDN increases expected to have to pay for the $20 million sewer outfall replacement.


Some New Year's Resolutions for 2015

 Click Image To Enlarge

A Whole New Year Ahead of Us

 Wikipedia has the following explanation for the meaning of "New Year's Resolution":
A New Year's resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a project or the reforming of a habit, often a lifestyle change that is generally interpreted as advantageous. The name comes from the fact that these commitments normally go into effect on New Year's Day. Some examples include resolutions to donate to the poor more often, to become more assertive, or to become more environmentally responsible.

There are religious parallels to this secular tradition. People may act similarly during the Christian fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. During Judaism's New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one's wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Time To Renew Dog Licences in Nanaimo for 2015

Nanaimo Info Blog file photo

As 2014 draws to an end, the City of Nanaimo reminds pet owners to renew their dog's licence.  A dog licence and accompanying identification tag are required for every dog in Nanaimo over the age of 12 weeks.  Licenses are sold for $30.  A discount of $5.00 is available if paid on or before March 1st of the licensing year.  Alternatively, if a person becomes the owner of a new dog after July 1st of the licensing year, the fee is reduced to $20.00.

Your dog's license acts as a critical piece of ID should your dog become lost it can be used to contact the owner.

Dog owners are required to purchase their dog a licence every year. Owners of existing dogs will pay a fee of $25 if the licence is bought before Feb 28. A new license for a new dog will cost $20 if purchased after July 1st.

Licences may be purchased at the City of Nanaimo Services and Resource Centre located at 411 Dunsmuir St., Oliver Woods Community Centre and the Animal Shelter.


Family New Year's Eve in Nanaimo


Downtown Nanaimo Parking Map

 Downtown Nanaimo Parking
Click image to view interactive downtown parking map

The DNBIA website has the above interactive map showing all of the downtown Nanaimo parking spaces. I don't know if all of the sites affected by the recent changes have been updated.

Click image to enlarge
To say that downtown parking is a simple, straightforward matter would not be exactly accurate. Recent changes to downtown rates and 'free parking' may be a bit confusing if you haven't been paying attention lately.

I hope to provide some clarity here as to where you can park for free, where and when you have to pay and how long you can stay in any one place.


All 'on street' parking is free after 5:00 pm and on Saturday and Sunday, however the 2 hour maximum still applies with the exception of the Bastion Street Parkade where you can park for free from Friday evening at 6:00 pm until Monday morning at 8:00 pm. The exception is the upper level which has metered parking where the 2 hour limit still applies.

There is no charge after 5:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday at the Cavan and Wallace or the Maffeo Sutton Park on Arena Street.

The parkade parking under the VICC and at the Harbour front are still paid parking 24/7.


Metered on street parking is $1.25 for one hour while off street in a parkade such as the VICC, Harbourfront or Bastion Street Parkade or Cavan & Wallace lots are $0.75 for the first 2 hours.

Clearly there is an incentive to parking in one of the parkades if you intend to stay for any length of time as it would cost $2.50 to park on street for 2 hours (which is the maximum time allowed on a meter).


The long term plan will be to have parking meters installed all along Commercial Street sometime within the coming year but in the meantime there is still some 2 hour free parking on Commercial Street and some other downtown streets.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Last Week of December Weather

It looks like we are going to have to struggle through the worst old man winter has in store for Nanaimo over the next few days. With temperatures plunging to just below freezing overnight before remaining in single digits under sunny daytime skies.

Winter in Nanaimo is quite the hardship when compared to other parts of Canada..................


West Coast Moment by Sher Falls

Click image to enlarge

Local photo artist Sher Falls artfully captured some of the magic of our coast. Nothing says the West Coast like a rugged troller whose glory days have sadly slipped by.

Falls offers a calendar of some of her handiwork, which really are works of art. You can view her calendar HERE.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Nanaimo Polar Bear Swim Dec. 26

55th Annual Frank Ney Polar Bear Swim
December 26 - 11:30 am - 2:30 pm
Departure Bay Beach, Nanaimo

Come and join in or just show your support for the 200+ brave souls who take the plunge into the frigid waters of Departure Bay on Boxing Day.

All participants receive swag when they register and there are prizes for best costume, oldest participant, youngest participant, best group costumes etc. Registration starts at 11:30 am with a Shotgun start at 1:00 pm.

Free hot chocolate or coffee will be available, Hot dogs will be on sale. There will be a warming bonfire on the beach and live music for your enjoyment.

Royal LePage will be offering 50/50 tickets with all proceeds going to Haven House.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas According to Linus

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 

 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 

 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

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


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas from Nanaimo Info


First Photo With Santa

Came across this photo of my grand daughter from four years ago when she had her first picture taken with the Jolly Ole Elf ..................... it's hard to say who was having the worst time!

Four years later, of course she has warmed to St. Nick and is eagerly awaiting his visit tonight.



Christmas in the Good Old Days

 I could have been the kid in 'A Christmas Story'
Christmas Songs Filled The Airwaves
Everything shut down for the week....

Growing up in rural southern Ontario in the fifties meant far less consumer-consumption oriented Christmas's than what I see today. Is it better now? You will probably get yeah's and nay's to that question, depending on who you ask.

I did not grow up in a religious, church-going family in fact the only recollections I have about church was occasionally having to wear itchy grey flannel pants and go to Sunday school every now and then. Back in those days we also had a Bible-teacher who came to class with some regularity, although I can't remember the frequency.

In those days, everyone acknowledged that Christ was the central focus of the Christmas Season. That said, the flight of a Jolly ole elf on Christmas eve was what held the imagination of the kids in the early years. Getting together with family for a Christmas dinner was the primary focus for the adults in my clan, and Christmas music either on radio or the phonograph was the extent of the 'religious' focus. I do remember that my father (whom I don't think ever darkened a church door) had a record collection of Mario Lanza, whose voice filled the house with Silent Night and many more the entire week of Christmas.

We seemed to rotate between my parents and both sets of grandparents as to which home would host the big Christmas dinner, although I think my folks hosted more often than either grandparents. One thing I do remember, was that the factory where my father worked, and most others, would take a break between Christmas and New Years, as would many of the stores.

Boxing day wasn't the same shopping-addicted furor we see today, in fact I think boxing day, was a day for exchanging or returning gifts that didn't fit, were the wrong color or the like. In my circle, no one had plastic burning a hole in their pocket, so after spending the Christmas company bonus to stock the bar (as all good hosts would do), buying all the fixings for a traditional Christmas feast which of course included a huge turkey and special desserts, seeing that Santa didn't forget and getting a few other presents, there really wasn't any cash clamoring  to be spent on boxing day.

The Christmas feast would of course include a huge turkey that could barely fit the oven, which had to go in first thing in the morning in order to be properly cooked by supper time. There would be a few Christmas veggies, stuffing and of course freshly made pan gravy, which sometimes came with lumps if the flour wasn't stirred in properly.

Christmas would be incomplete without some Christmas oranges, my mother's fruit cake (no fruit cake jokes please) and my grandmother's special shortbread that had to be made with rice flour or it just wasn't right.

Christmas morning of course saw us kids getting up far too early to see if Santa had shown up as anticipated and whether he delivered our one special request. As big a deal as the 'main' gift was opening our Christmas stockings that had been hung by the chimney with care. They were like opening five or six different presents, eagerly aiming for the bottom, as that is where Santa always put the 'good' stuff!

After Christmas Day everyone returned to their own homes to spend the rest of Christmas week with their family and also visiting with friends and neighbors you either went to see or who just dropped in. By the end of the week, the dessert tins were empty as was the liquor cabinet.

I remember that week as being the quietest, most peaceful week of the year. Kids kept busy with their newest toy, the family putting together a massive jig saw puzzle, and usually the family playing some new board game Santa brought each year.

In addition to the week of peace and quiet there was left over turkey dinners, turkey sandwiches at lunch and finally a big bottomless pot of turkey soup that took us right up to New Years eve.

The one thing I remember with some sadness was the lack of Christmas music on the radio stations as soon as Christmas Day had passed. The month leading up to Christmas, all radio stations continually played Christmas Carols and Christmas songs 24/7, but as soon as Christmas day passed the airwaves returned to normal.

Was Christmas a better time then? I think so, but I'm sure you will gett many today, thinking how underprivileged we must have been when the extravagance of Christmas wasn't determined by how many credit cards you carried.

If I were to prioritize the focus of Christmas past, it would be the birth of Christ, the arrival of Santa and finally food - family and friends.

(Originally posted in Dec. 2013 but I thought worth repeating.)


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Dinner - Christmas Day - Generations Church

When city councillor and local all-round good guy, Gord Fuller discovered a week ago there was not going to be a dinner on Christmas Day for the less fortunate among us, he didn't wonder who would take care of it, he just rolled up his sleeves and took on the task himself.

He is pleased to report that everything has come together thanks to the generous response of the community.


Monday, December 22, 2014

The Interview - Real Hacker Threat?

Or brilliant marketing campaign??

I must admit I pay very little attention to any of the drivel that the movie 'industry' produces these days as I honestly don't remember the last time seeing a movie that I find a waste of time.

The movie mostly shot in Canada takes aim at the North Korean dictator is now said to have come under a cyber attack originating in North Korea. Threats against the films producer Sony and even threats of terrorism on US soil have catapulted the movie onto front pages everywhere.

So if the 'plot' of this little story is to be believed, North Korea really gives a rats pa toot about some low budget bit of fluff coming out of the movie machine in North America?? This is the same country that can't feed it's own people and is hardly known as the cyber-capital of the world. Do they have computers? Electricity?

So is it a real threat, or just a brilliantly executed piece of marketing any Madison Ave. ad exec would be proud to lay claim to?


Fender Bender on Pearson Bridge

Not likely what he wanted for Christmas

A minor fender bender caused a bit of traffic slowdown going over the Pearson bridge on Monday at about noon.

A good example of what happens when you don't realize the car in front of you has come to a stop. It was either that or the car in front of his backed into him. Not so likely.


Nanaimo Winter Wonderland Dec. 26 - 30


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Symbols of Mayoral Office Change Hands

The above picture taken at the Inaugural City Council meeting just a few short weeks ago captured the moment the symbols of the power of the office of Mayor of Nanaimo are passed from the outgoing Mayor to the incoming Mayor.

The Mayoral collar or Chain of Office was placed around the neck of incoming Mayor Bill McKay by outgoing Mayor John Ruttan.

What was not so obvious to those in attendance was the handing off of the official seal of the office of the Mayor of Nanaimo. Although I have never officially seen it I am offering up a graphic of what I presume it looks like.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Amazing Grace Christmas Light Show

Note: email subscribers may have to visit Nanaimo Info Blog ot view video

Looks just like my house except for the music, and the sound I guess, and the house, aside from that it looks just like my house this year!

Truth be told my decorations look more like this .........


Black Press Has Print Monopoly In Nanaimo

Obviously good for Black Press & Glacier
how about Nanaimo and Nanaimo businesses?

The recent announcement that media moguls Glacier and Black Press have divided up some of their competing money-makers on Vancouver Island is likely good for them, but not so good for local businesses.

This recent deal gives Black Press a virtual monopoly on the traditional mainstream print media in Nanaimo which eliminates the healthy market forces that true competition brings. That said, it is unlikely that Nanaimo could continue to support all three publications and consolidation of the market could well be the only way any of them will survive.

The Nanaimo News Bulletin has pretty much cornered the flyer market which in newspaper land is usually pure gravy as there are no production costs and very little extra work to include with their regular deliveries. The Bulletin has never gone for paid circulation so they are able to offer advertisers city-wide delivery which gave them the edge over the Daily which has less than 5,000 paid subscribers in Nanaimo. The Daily offers city-wide delivery on Thursday only in an attempt to take some of the Bulletins business. The Harbour City Star exists for pretty much the same reason.


The actual change of taking over operations does not kick in until March 2 when Black Press will take control of the operations of the Nanaimo Daily News and the Harbour City Star. The reality is, that one owner does not need to compete with themselves unless they are trying to keep out competition, which in Nanaimo would be highly unlikely.

With the purchase of the Daily News and it's production facilities the staff and production facilities at the Bulletin become pretty much redundant. How long Black Press will maintain two premises, two production facilities and two news and advertising staff is a bet I wouldn't take. I predict there will definitely be a loss of jobs in the mainstream media in town. The tricky part will be how Black Press handles their union and non-union staffing. A betting guy would think they will try and shed the union if at all possible making the News Bulletin staff, likely the most secure. It is safe to say at least one third of the staff will be redundant after the operations are amalgamated and 50% of the production capacity is also redundant.

It will be interesting to see if either the Daily or the Bulletin staff 'pick up their game' when it comes to producing a better quality 'news' product as neither of them would be in the running for any awards for journalistic excellence these days. The local Daily has certainly slid with the exit of Hugh Nicholson and Mark MacDonald these past few months, and of course the Bulletin is just a flyer wrapper parading as a newspaper for a long time now.


Going out on a limb here, I would say the days local merchants could haggle for the price of advertising will be a thing of the past as there will likely be an astonishing similarity in what the Daily and the Bully charge for print ads and flyer delivery.

After all, they are not likely going to be competing with each other any more, once they share the same building, staff and production facilities.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Things on the net that make ya' smile

Is this how Morris got his start??


Mayor McKay Supports Tax Increase - 6% Wage Settlement

"The City is pleased to have concluded this round of bargaining in a productive and professional manner and I want to thank all of those who were involved in the process. We look forward to a continuation of our good relationship with the Union and our employees who provide such excellent service to the community." Mayor Bill McKay

Now with the election out of the way, we get our first glimpse at how our new Mayor intends to deal with the single biggest cost centre at city hall. Wages and benefits at city hall account for over 80% of every tax dollar collected by the city. If it were not for user fees (another name for taxes) we wouldn't have enough money left to put one new piece of pipe in the ground or fill in one more pothole.

How anyone feels in the current economic environment that another 2% wage increase each year for the next three years is good fiscal policy is a real head-shaker. If this is the first example of the new fiscally responsible council we have elected, I think we should all be very disappointed. It would seem that Mayor John Ruttan has passed on his big rubber stamp that he so effectively used to our new Mayor Bill McKay.

What's that I hear?? More broken election promises??

Fiscal restraint ?? Council gives direction and makes policy ?? Full investigation into Leadercast ?? Outside sourced core review??


Province Supports Regional Sales Tax Request


Re: Mayors’ Council Recommendations

His Worship
Mayor Richard Walton, Chair
Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation
287 Nelson’s Court, Suite 400
New Westminster, B.C., V3L 0E7

Reference: 231980

December 18, 2014

VICTORIA – Dear Mayor Walton:

Thank you for your letter of Dec. 11, 2014, providing me with the Mayors’ Council recommendations respecting the question to be taken to voters in spring 2015 and the proposed new revenue source.

As I committed, I have carefully considered the wording of the Mayors’ Council proposal and am pleased to advise you that the Province is prepared to support your question and proposed revenue source, with some minor refinements that reflect input from Elections BC in order to meet their ballot fairness requirements.

Revenue Source

In support of the Mayors’ request for a regional sales tax, government has approved a plebiscite on whether to enable a 0.5% regional sales tax to implement regional transportation and transit priorities as proposed by the Mayors’ Council. This tax would be separate and distinct from the Provincial Sales Tax (PST). If approved, the Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax would be applied as a sales tax to the majority of goods and services that are subject to the PST and are sold or delivered within the region.


In response to your suggested question, government has approved an amended question which substantially reflects the wording proposed by the Mayors’ Council. The question will allow the voters of Metro Vancouver to have their say on whether or not the Mayors' vision and funding source meets their needs for today and future years.

The final approved question is provided as an attachment to this letter.

Vote Administration

The vote will be administered by Elections BC as a mail-in ballot plebiscite under the Election Act. Costs of administering the vote will be provided by the Province. Provincial funds will not be provided for either proponent or opponent groups.

Consistent with your recommendation on the voting period, I can also confirm that ballots will be sent out beginning March 16, 2015. To provide time for public dialogue and to allow voters to fully inform themselves about their choices, the voting period will extend until May 29, 2015. With respect to the outcome of the vote, government will consider a regional result of 50% +1 to constitute majority support for the question.

Transit expansion is vital to economic development in Metro Vancouver and will be a critical component of ensuring that the region is able to accommodate the million additional people expected over the next 30 years. I appreciate your efforts to date and look forward to a positive outcome that will benefit the residents of Metro Vancouver and the economy of British Columbia.


Todd G. Stone


CUPE Press Release

Nanaimo city workers ratify three-year deal

NANAIMO, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Dec. 19, 2014) - CUPE Local 401 and the City of Nanaimo have reached a new three-year collective agreement. The deal covers about 600 CUPE city workers and includes wage increases of 2% (effective Jan.1, 2014), 2% (effective Jan.1, 2015) and 1+1% (effective Jan.1 and July 1, 2016). CUPE 401 members voted to ratify the deal yesterday. The workers were without a contract since December 2013.
The new contract includes improvements to benefits, including orthodontic benefits for children and an increase in long-term disability payments. It also includes a new job evaluation plan that will be fully funded starting in the new year and improvements to grievance handling language and the introduction of four-hour shift minimums.
CUPE Local 401 President Blaine Gurrie thanked mediator Grant McArthur for his participation in the final four days of talks before the agreement was reached with the city.
"We originally bargained for a five-year deal and would have preferred a longer agreement, but we're pleased with the language improvements and the wage package we got," said Gurrie, adding, "it's also nice for our members to have a settlement that offers some stability after being without a contract for a year."


Nanaimo Christmas Lights 2014

Nanaimo Info Blog file photo
Following is the list of this year's entries in the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce residential Christmas Lights contest. So bundle up, grab some cocoa and enjoy checking out these awesome displays that really brighten up the Christmas Season.

  • 2251 Belwood Road (off Westwood Road)   FIRST PLACE
  • 921 Cadogan – Townsite area   SECOND PLACE
  • 6425 Dover Road  THIRD PLACE
  • 1205 Townsite (at Bush St.)
  • 2172 Duggan Road
  • 4311 Jingle Pot (corner of Labieux)
  • 3930 Rock City Road
  • 1836 Latimer Road
  • 520 Churchill Road (Townsite area)
  • 5922 Tasha – whole street
  • 1755 Harvest Place – Country Hills off Extension Road – whole area
  • 6148 Somerside Place – off Montgomery – whole street nicely done
  • McGirr Road – Candy Cane Lane
  • 6247 Olympia Way
  • 6060 Nelson Road
  • 5152 Sams Way
  • 2320 Whitney Road – off Bowen across from Beban Park
  • 449 Renfrew Street – off Howard Ave
  • 435 Fourth Street
  • 491 Howard Avenue
  • Cardinal Way (off Boundary Rd)


Nanaimo Rain and Wind Warning Issued

RAINFALL WARNING issued at 10:39 am PST Dec.19/14
Rain, at times heavy, is expected. A warm, moist Pacific system will move towards the coast tonight. Rain, at times heavy, will fall on Saturday with rainfall amounts up to 60mm by Sunday morning before tapering to a few showers by midday.

WIND WARNING issue at 4:38 am PST Dec. 19/14
Strong winds that may cause damage are expected or occurring. An intense Pacific frontal system will move onto the coast tonight. Consequently, southeast winds will increase to 60 to 80 km/h after midnight and persist through Saturday morning. Winds will ease near


NANAIMO ARTS & CULTURE (5) by Dan Appell

Last week I  raised the possibility of using aesthetics as a fundamental economic principle. This week I would like to give you an example of someone local who did this.
Merv Wilkinson bought 36.4 Hectares of forest in 1938. He recognized the value of the forest and decided "he didn’t have to destroy the forest to harvest trees.” Over the course of 70 years Merv managed to make a good living, raise a family, increase his holdings and retain a small fortune while never harvesting more wood than the land produced and never destroying the valuable ecosystem he was in charge of.

I met Merv in the late nineties. He gave a small group of us a short introduction to his work, then he spent the rest of the afternoon railing against the ignorance of provincial forest policy, the ineptness of those managing forest resources and waste that results from both these efforts. He had hundreds of examples, and an equal number of statistics. It was very mind boggling, depressing and also inspiring in that we were led to believe that change for the better was possible.

Merv advocated for his type of forest management as provincial policy. These policies would closely resemble Scandinavian practise. Had his methods became policy we would likely have retained more forest, but, as well, we would have retained more wealth.  And that wealth would have been distributed evenly to holders of small forests. That wealth would still support an extensive secondary industry and a large amount of regional development. Perhaps even a large and significant cultural community. Instead we have had a system that strips the forest while moving all the wealth associated with it offshore.

The problem with Merv’s forest management system was that it required a particular kind of intelligence. While Merv was an encyclopedia of forest management practice, he also had the kind of intelligence that recognizes value, and the need to protect value while creating value for himself, his family and his community. These are the skills we are supposed to learn in art school, and from a generous study of nature as a significant part of an artist’s training. This makes me wonder about the possible benefits of putting artists in charge of economic policy.

(Photographs and quote taken from the website “Vancouver Island Big Tress” @ http://vancouverislandbigtrees.blogspot.ca/2011/09/vancouver-islands-forest-defender-merv.html)


New City Council - Same Old CoolAide

Heads Up to new city council

You can expect to be offered this refreshing beverage which I expect will be freely dispensed at some upcoming orientation sessions. I suspect some has already been served. It does offer the illusion that the Mayor and Council actually are directing staff.

The current 6% wage settlement is an example of the 'CoolAide' effect on our new city council.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Michael's Musing (2)

Council Clique
Dec 15 2014 City Council Meeting 

It was a nice meeting. Short and smooth. Do you really want to know the details? OK Everyone was in attendance this time. Councillor Yochim was on the phone from somewhere three time zones to the East and Mayor Mckay had to remember to remind him to vote. That became a kind of running joke, especially because there were no close votes and Yoachim voted yes every time. Good to prove that a conference calling Councillor can work and good to see that the lights were fixed. Last time Councillor Bestwick seemed to be getting the third degree.

  The meeting started with a touching video of Dutch citizens gathering to remember Canadian war dead on Christmas Eve. Then the Mayor let us know that this year Dutch children would be wearing City of Nanaimo pins at this years ceremony. But this was City Council not the UN so matters quickly turned to calendars and housing and parking. The first item should be a big one actually. Kipp and Fuller stared by asking for a review of the weekly meeting cycle. Why not have the agenda published before the weekend? I saw approving nods from Councillor Pratt and others. In the end Kipp suggested that the era of volunteer councillors working weekends may be past. Staff was asked to prepare a plan for Council meetings on Thursdays rather than Mondays. Passed unanimously! I reckon the City Council cable access show, with it's many fans at home and in the live studio audience will be moving to Thursday nights in 2015. 

 Next Dianne Brennan wants to make a motion, but pre-invites the Mayor to rule her out of order if he feels the need to. The crowd leans forward expectantly... But she puts forward a very reasonable suggestion that the city head off any changes to the ferry system by declaring an interest in the parks around Duke Point. Specifically Cable Bay Trail and the airspace above it. This thing about the airspace above a nature trail confuses me until I hear the word "bridge". Then it clicks for me, all this talk about bridges across islands to create shorter ferry routes has the City concerned. Why not use the existence of municipal parks and trails to get a word in edgewise on that conversation. Passed handily. 

 Now the really big deal at this meeting, was about parking downtown which Gord Fuller refers to as "urban hunting".  The Business Improvement Association, which I assume Councillor Hong belongs to, wants a change to free parking meters on evenings and weekends. The usual math on downtown parking is this. Charge to much and maybe people will park for free at the malls. Make it free all the time and then every employee downtown will be parked there all day long. Then maybe customers can't find parking and go out to the malls. Thanks to a flamboyant former Mayor, the old highway is packed with malls for people to choose from. Councillor Kipp redefined the issue for us. It's not the cost of the parking meter so much as the ticket you get for being over time.  John Cooper of the DNBIA seems well aware of this problem and suggests, with just a hint of pleading, a graduated system so that first time offenders get a warning and are given a chance to learn the ancient ways of the parking meter. On the other hand repeat offenders, like merchants and their workforce should be getting stiffer fines as they pile up tickets.  Apparently the price of a meter will be going up to $1.75 and the parkade across from the Oxy will become more user friendly. 

 With the meeting almost over Councillor Bestwick promised a Core review motion in the New Year and then we got a tragically comical question period.  At the end of every Council meeting citizens can come forward and ask questions of Council or staff. May I remind those citizens of two rules for question period. The written rule is that your question has to relate to something on the agenda. No fair asking about things taken off the agenda and implying that the City has something to hide there. The unwritten rule is that your question should be a real one. No fair making your "point" with an obvious rhetorical question and it's a little tacky to walk away when you're done showing that even you don't think your question deserves a response. No other level of government lets us do this so lets take it seriously. 

Until next time
Mike Horn


City and CUPE Ratify Collective Agreement

"The City is pleased to have concluded this round of bargaining in a productive and professional manner and I want to thank all of those who were involved in the process. We look forward to a continuation of our good relationship with the Union and our employees who provide such excellent service to the community." Mayor Bill McKay

Nanaimo City Council and CUPE Local 401 have ratified a new collective agreement covering the period from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2016.

The new contract includes wage increases of two per cent on January 1, 2014, two per cent on January 1, 2015, one per cent on January 1, 2016 and one per cent on July 1, 2016.  It also includes the implementation of a new job evaluation plan and modest improvements to employee benefits and allowances.   The monetary agreement is generally consistent with other recent CUPE municipal settlements on Vancouver Island.    

CUPE Local 401 represents approximately 750 Nanaimo employees who provide municipal services.


Sewer Leak At Morningside Repair Complete

Leaking Pipe Successfully Repaired

The source of a leak allowing treated effluent to come to the surface in Morningside Park has been successfully repaired and work is progressing to restore the site to it's pre-excavation stage.

The leak had been caused by a near-perfect storm of events which saw excess storm water combining with regular sewer flow during a period of king tides which created a situation where treated sewage came to the surface and onto the beach at Morningside Park.

After extensive excavation, crews were able to isolate the source of the leak and using steel bands and patching material were able to close off the leak, The damaged area of pipe was then fully encased in concrete. A tracing die was added to the effluent and there were no signs of any leakage in the area of the repair.

Over the coming days the area will be filled back in but it will take several months to restore the Park and adjacent property to it's pre-excavation state.


Nanaimo Downtown Parking

Click image to enlarge
To say that downtown parking is a simple, straightforward matter would not be exactly accurate. Recent changes to downtown rates and 'free parking' may be a bit confusing if you haven't been paying attention lately.

I hope to provide some clarity here as to where you can park for free, where and when you have to pay and how long you can stay in any one place.


All 'on street' parking is free after 5:00 pm and on Saturday and Sunday, however the 2 hour maximum still applies with the exception of the Bastion Street Parkade where you can park for free from Friday evening at 6:00 pm until Monday morning at 8:00 pm. The exception is the upper level which has metered parking where the 2 hour limit still applies.

There is no charge after 5:00 pm and Saturday and Sunday at the Cavan and Wallace or the Maffeo Sutton Park on Arena Street.

The parkade parking under the VICC and at the Harbour front are still paid parking 24/7.


Metered on street parking is $1.25 for one hour while off street in a parkade such as the VICC, Harbourfront or Bastion Street Parkade or Cavan & Wallace lots are $0.75 for the first 2 hours.

Clearly there is an incentive to parking in one of the parkades if you intend to stay for any length of time as it would cost $2.50 to park on street for 2 hours (which is the maximum time allowed on a meter).


The long term plan will be to have parking meters installed all along Commercial Street sometime within the coming year but in the meantime there is still some 2 hour free parking on Commercial Street and some other downtown streets.



For the first time ever, the VISFF will have three screenings of the selected films – two evening shows and a matinee on Feb. 7.

“The Festival was jam-packed last year,” said Blakeborough. “We wanted to give our audience another opportunity to check out these great short films, so we decided to hold a matinee screening on Feb. 7. The evening shows are always very busy, so this will give our audience another opportunity to check out the Festival.”

A selection committee will comb through the films this month and announce the shortlist of selected films by January 1. All the films will be shown at each of the three shows on Feb. 6 and 7. The opening night will start at 7pm and will also feature a musical performance by Nanaimo’s own Top Men. After the matinee on Saturday at 2pm, there will be a filmmakers' Q&A with several of the films' directors. Following the final show on Saturday at 7pm, there will be an Awards ceremony and after-party (held at the Firehouse Grill).

The VISFF is a Nanaimo Arts Council Event. Tickets are $15 ($10 for students) and are available at http://www.visff.com/tickets, at the Port  Theatre, and at 250-754-8550.


Nanaimo Water, Sewer, Garbage Increases For 2015

Water, Sewer and Garbage Rates To Increase 14.5%

Water rates are set to increase by 7.5% in 2015 which will increase the cost to the average Nanaimo single family home by $28.84 bringing the total cost of water (based on average consumption) to $413.36 per year.

Sewer fees will increase by 5% in 2015 which represents an increase of $5.35 for a single family home bringing the total annual cost to $112.28.

Garbage fees will increase by 2% and will cost a single family home $99.75 per year. The fee for tags for extra garbage bags is increasing by 50% to $3.00 per bag.

In Addition To Property Taxes
Residents Pay $625.39 For Water, Sewer and Garbage 

Some will say that user fees are not the same as taxes, those same people dance on the head of pins. The next time city hall and city council is telling you how reasonable your property taxes are remember to include the $625.39 you are also paying in user fees.


Tilray Plans New Facility - Creates 275 Nanaimo Jobs

City Council Paves Way For Major Expansion
"Council's decision to approve the required rezoning is good news for the City of Nanaimo.  The steps taken last week through the rezoning will allow Tilray to significantly increase their operations in Nanaimo leading to over 275 new jobs." Mayor Bill McKay

During a public hearing meeting held December 11, 2014, the Nanaimo City Council approved a rezoning for an expansion of the current Tilray owned and operated medical marihuana production facility at 1100 Maughan Road. The rezoning for the adjacent properties at 1110, 1120 and 1140 Maughan Road applies the same Industrial (I4) zone, with a site-specific use of ‘medical marihuana growing and production’.  With the rezoning approved, Tilray is positioned to begin the permitting and regulatory approval process that would enable them to increase their operations in Nanaimo significantly.

Tilray began cultivating medical marihuana in Nanaimo in April 2014 with the opening of a state-of-the-art, 60,000 square foot research and production facility. Currently Tilray employs a workforce of more than 100 staff in Nanaimo.  Pending necessary regulatory approvals, Tilray plans to build a new facility that will be 284,888 square feet.  Once complete, Tilray’s second facility is expected to create an additional 275 jobs in Nanaimo, in addition to more than one hundred indirect jobs related to construction, logistics and third party services.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Nanaimo Daily News Sold to Black Press

It is reported in the Times Colonist that the Nanaimo Daily News is one of the papers purchased by Black Press in a deal for Vancouver Island newspapers. The article states that in addition to the Nanaimo Daily News, the Alberni Valley Times and the Cowichan Valley Citizen are also included in the deal which does not include the Victoria Times Colonist.

Black Press is to take operational control of these newspapers on March 2, 2015. When complete this will give Black Press control of all Nanaimo print media as they are also the current owners of the News Bulletin.

It is not said if Black Press will also be publishing the Harbour City Star or if it has purchased the printing facility that produces the Nanaimo Daily News and a number of other publications. Recent changes at the local Daily has fueled some speculation by local news watchers if they will continue to produce a daily publication as the quality and quantity of their content has been slipping lately.

A curious mind might wonder if this purchase wouldn't put Black Press in a position to consolidate the local publications and what is perhaps duplicate printing capacity. It has always been a bit of a mystery how Nanaimo is able to support the many print publications that currently exist.



The fee for putting out an extra bag of garbage on collection day will be increasing to $3.00 beginning January 1, 2015.

Nanaimo residents can purchase garbage tags when their garbage exceeds the one container limit on their scheduled garbage collection day. Attaching a tag to the extra standard size container or bag allows for the extra pickup. Residents may place a maximum of two additional containers or bags at the curb.

The old 'orange' garbage tags that residents have at home will still be accepted for collection. As well, retailers that have the old tags will continue to sell them at $2.00 until their supply runs out. The new 'blue' garbage tags will then be sold at $3.00.

For a list of Nanaimo facilities and retail locations that sell garbage tags, visit the City's website.


Site C Project Approved By Province $8.775 Billion

Site C to provide more than 100 years of affordable, reliable clean power

VICTORIA – Premier Christy Clark announced the Province has approved the Site C Clean Energy Project, concluding it will provide British Columbia with the most affordable, reliable clean power for over 100 years.

“Affordable, reliable, clean electricity is the backbone of British Columbia’s economy. Site C will support our quality of life for decades to come and will enable continued investment and a growing economy,” said Premier Clark.

B.C.’s population and economy are growing, and the demand for power is expected to increase by 40% over the next 20 years. Site C will be required even with BC Hydro’s ambitious Power Smart programs that are targeted to meet 78% of future electricity growth.

“British Columbia has the third-lowest electricity rates in North America and we need to meet our future needs in a way that keeps rates down,” said Bill Bennett, Minister of Energy and Mines. “It’s clear that to keep rates low, we must choose the option of building Site C.”

Over the first 50 years of Site C’s project life, ratepayers will save an average of $650 to $900 million each year, compared to alternatives - this amounts to average annual savings of approximately six to eight per cent for the typical household. The project will generate a century of low-cost power, providing enough electricity for about 450,000 homes per year – an eight-per-cent increase in supply to BC Hydro’s system in 2024.

As the third project on the Peace River, the firm energy it provides will support the development of more independent power projects (IPPs) by backing-up intermittent resources, such as wind. IPPs currently provide 25% of B.C.’s electricity and will continue to play a vital role in meeting the province’s energy needs.

“Site C is essential to keeping the lights on while maintaining low rates for our customers,” said Jessica McDonald, president and CEO of BC Hydro. “This project will build on the success of our existing hydroelectric system and benefit British Columbians for generations to come.”

The capital-cost estimate for the project has been updated to $8.335 billion, and government has also established a project reserve of an additional $440 million to account for events outside of BC Hydro’s control that could occur over an eight-year construction period, such as higher than forecast inflation or interest rates, for a total of up to $8.775 billion. The reserve is subject to provincial Treasury Board approval.

The project, which has undergone a thorough and independent multi-year environmental assessment process, will start construction in summer 2015 and will provide approximately 10,000 direct construction jobs.

“Today’s announcement is a historic milestone and we look forward to building this important provincial project,” said Susan Yurkovich, executive vice-president responsible for Site C. “We will continue to work with First Nations, communities and landowners to ensure that we deliver on our commitments and realize the many benefits of this project.”


Michael's Musing

The Council Clique
The first full meeting of the new Council happened on Dec 7

My brief impressions of that meeting: The themes of the meeting were Real Estate and surprises. The big item was a request from the Loaves & Fishes food bank for support buying a new, more efficient warehouse. The council debated the merits of charities owning buildings, judged it a good idea, but questioned sharply the rush to close this one good deal. Councillor Hong preferred the idea of an ongoing grant but the majority  passed a resolution to give a lump sum of about a 1/4 million. 

Councillor Hong suggested that a new distribution truck could be donated by a local dealership. Everyone pitched in ideas pot luck style. Weary taxpayers should be pleased with this Council as they were also being fiscally responsible. Billy Yoachim led the charge by asking about moving the money for the food bank from another budget line, rather than spending  any new money. Kipp asked about seeing all the years big requests at once rather than piecemeal. Fuller, Bestwick and Kipp had a conversation about getting the money from the housing fund. Kipp asks if we should raise the ten year old levy on developments, currently sitting at a $1000 dollars per door.  

 Also there was talk of other Real Estate deals. The convention center's fate, strata housing, corporate sponsorships and the best way to earthquake proof the Cranberry Boys and Girls Club. In all cases, the new Councillors seemed concerned with not wasting money and ready to send for more information. Already there was concern about a shortage of information. The second main theme I noticed in the meeting was surprises! Councillors Bestwick, Thorpe and Fuller seemed surprised at Mayor Mckay's proposal for a more involved Acting Mayor system. Mayor Mckay for his part seemed surprised at all the scepticism. Defeated. The new horseshoe table worked well but was obviously not field tested before the big day. Councillor Bestwick was having trouble under the spot lights. he was shielding his eyes and complained that he couldn't see the display screen or the presenters very well. Also a surprise was the absence of a new Council member Wendy Pratt. No surprise the meeting went discreetly in camera before the night was over. 

Everyone went to the School Board reception across the hall as a City Council after party. Yay! after parties! The next meeting will have a planning flavour as they are reviewing Official Community Plans and such.