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


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