Friday, February 27, 2015

Nanaimo City Council Meeting March 2/15

City Council Meeting
Monday, March 2 , 2015
7:00 PM Shaw Auditorium
Vancouver Is. Conference Centre

  • Council Advisory Committees and Commissions
  • Heritage Commission Repeal Bylaw
  • Council Appointments
  • Core Services Review Steering Committee
  • 2014 - 2018 Financial Plan Amendment Bylaw
  • Regional District of Nanaimo Bylaws
  • Council Meetings and Agenda Circulation Times
  • 2014 General Election Financing Disclosure Statements
  • DP 476 Nottingham Drive, 850/870 Jackson Road, 3602 Place Rd.
  • Linley Valley Urban Reserve Area Plan
  • Structural upgrade order - 1377 Townsite Rd.
  • Unresolved building deficiencies 485 Pine St., 45 Haliburton St., 177 Bird Sanctuary Dr., 102 Kemp Place.
  • Unauthorized suite - 762 Townsite Rd.
  • Property Maintenance Bylaw, 2404 York Cres., 812 Short Ave., 435 Prideaux St.

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

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

    You can view this Council Meeting Agenda here - - -  Agenda .

    If you can't attend council meetings in person (preferred) you can watch regular council meetings on Shaw cable channel #4. You can also watch the meetings live on the city website using this link. 

    The regular city council meetings are the only ones broadcast live on either Shaw Cable or streaming video from the city website. The Committee of the Whole meetings, while not broadcast live are recorded and can be viewed on the city website HERE.

    As this is a new council with 5 new members it is important to note that the following decisions were not made by this council. I will leave it posted for a time as a reminder of the type of spending that council is capable of when the electorate isn't paying attention. 
    If this new council makes questionable spending decisions as we go forward (and I am sure they will) It would be my intent to document them here and replace the following list with a 'new' list. Hopefully, it will be a very short list.


    In spite of promises to demonstrate fiscal responsibility, the first thing this council has done is approve a 6% increase in wages for CUPE employees over the next 3 years. This is well above the settlements the province is signing with other unions.

    Some Previous Council Decisions You Might Want To Think About

    The city just agreed to pay an outside firm nearly $25,000 to review the city website's content and set up a navigation structure. Our IT head gets paid about $150,000 a year and IT staff are paid at least $37.00/hr. and yet they can't properly set up the city website?

    The city paid a consulting firm $75,000 for the purpose of reviewing and developing governance-related policy, structures and processes. (In other words to tell the city manager and mayor how to do their jobs). A recommendation that came out of this report was the hiring of Alison Habkirk (an associate of Jerry Berry) at a cost of $8500, again to tell city management and council how to do their jobs.
    Council decided to spend $120,000 to install a public toilet at Diana Krall Plaza.

    Council decided to spend at least $200,000 on the old theatre on Victoria Rd. when a $20,000 solution would have done, until it is decided what is to be done with the building long term. Two engineers have raised questions about the seismic standard of the building, but staff seem content to ignore the concern.  

    By deciding to bring downtown parking enforcement 'in-house' which was supposed to save tax dollars, we are now going to lose $140,000 in the first year.

    We are paying over $60,000/yr. for downtown parking attendants (meter maids).

    We gave a $300,000 tax exemption to the bar operating in the old train station. This exemption was originally thought to apply to the area of the train station used as a train station and not the area operating as a pub.   

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

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

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

    Three years ago they decided to spend $16,000,000.00 on a new staff office, an amount equal to YOUR tax increase for 5 years! 


    Citizen Bob FYI Nanaimo Commentary

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

    Citizen Bob 'Reaches Out' to Mayor McKay


    Thursday, February 26, 2015

    Social Enterprise Catalyst Comes To Nanaimo


     4:00 – 5:30 PM

    If you manage or are a board member with a charity or other not-for-profit that operates a business as a social enterprise, did you know you could be eligible to present your business pitch at the upcoming Catalyst Gala for a chance at $50,000 in cash and technical supports to help you succeed!

    The Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce is excited to host this free event March 3rd for the Catalyst Gala on May 20th at the Port Theatre.  Catalyst is one of a series of events taking place over the next few months to build capacity and strength in non-profits.  Learn through these events how to reduce your need for charitable giving and public sector support.

    A social enterprise is defined as a business whose mission, conduct and revenue stream address a cultural, social and/or environmental need as their principal goal.  Profits from the sale of goods and services are targeted to specific causes.  Success stories abound in the world of social enterprise and Catalyst showcases, supports and inspires these throughout Vancouver Island. 

    Join us March 3rd and hear from a panel of experts in the field, funders, Catalyst event sponsors, and operators from some of our local social enterprises.  Learn more about the world of social enterprise, how it works, and what the business model is.  Find out if your organization can qualify for the $50,000 in cash and technical support available through Catalyst. 

    To RSVP and pre-register (no cost) for the launch: or call 250-756-1191

    For general information:


    Ezra Levant Is Crowdfunding

    According to this Huffpost article Ezra Levant is attempting to crowdfund a news studio now that Sun News no longer exists.


    Nanaimo Empire Days May Long Weekend Parade Cancelled

    Society Votes To Cancel Long Weekend Parade & Fireworks

    The Nanaimo Empire Days Society held a general membership meeting on Feb. 25 at which the membership voted to ratify a recommendation from the executive that the society would not undertake the sole operation of the May long weekend events.

    The general membership also considered a proposal put forward that would have seen them participate in a joint venture which would include SFN and the City of Nanaimo participation in the event. This proposal was also rejected, albeit a closer vote than the first order of business.

    The society will now decide over the coming weeks and months what they will do as they decide how to wind down their society.


    Nanaimo Festival of Banners - 2015

    Festival of Banners – My Favorite Things

    Each spring for 27 years, Nanaimo Art Gallery has organized the Festival of Banners, which has become a beloved tradition and an important community project.

    To participate, create an imaginative, original design based on the 2015 theme “My Favorite Things”, and submit your completed and coloured entry form to Guest Services at Nanaimo North Town Centre or directly at the banner site (across from Designer Depot). You will pay the $10 fee at the banner site when you are scheduled to paint.  The project coordinator will contact you to schedule a time to paint in March, April at Nanaimo North Town Centre.  Banners are installed on lamp standards in mid-May.

    Entry forms can be found at customer service in Nanaimo North Town Centre, at or at the Nanaimo Arts Council Gallery in Nanaimo North Town Centre or at both Nanaimo Art Gallery locations 150 Commercial Street and Vancouver Island University.  Banners are limited this year to 200, so get your submission in early!

    For more information please call 250-729-3947 or email


    Kismet Academy Performance


    Spring is in the air -- and it's February

    Red-winged blackbird in Buttertubs Marsh

    As a boy growing up in rural southern Ontario, one of the welcome songs of spring came from the return of the Red-winged blackbird with their distinctive song. I presume it was likely the males that did the singing trying to attract a mate for the season of renewal ahead. The males are the ones decked out with the fancy clothes and the females wear a sensible camo outfit to hide while safely hatching the brood.

    Of course living in the Sunporch of Canada we are treated to this harbinger of the spring to come when the rest of the country is trying to dig out their cars.


    Wednesday, February 25, 2015

    Downtown Nanaimo Supports Pink Shirt Day

    Diana Krall Plaza was filled with pink wearing supporters who turned out at lunch time to enjoy an anti-bullying rally in support of Pink Shirt Day. Onlookers were surprised to see an elderly lady harassing Nanaimo hip hop artist SirReal, just moments before his scheduled performance. The harassment stopped, when 30 pink shirt wearing NanGo Grannies and Haven House supporters "chased" the bullying woman away with chants of "enough, enough" and a rap performance supporting Pink Shirt Day. The group was there to promote the upcoming visit of author Barbara Coloroso who will be speaking at the Port Theatre on April 14th on breaking the cycle of violence and creating safe and more deeply caring communities.

    Attendees were then treated to a fabulous performance by Nanaimo artists, SirReal and Jona Kristinsson who wowed the lunch time crowd of over 100, with a performance of their anti-bullying song entitled Words Like Weapons. Organizers, the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association, were joined by Steve Arnett from Nanaimo Youth Services Association, Mayor Bill McKay,City Councillors Diane Brennan and Bill Yoachim, all of whom spoke on the importance of our community standing together to ensure that bullying becomes a thing of the past, along with Councillors Jerry Hong, Wendy Pratt and Jim Thorpe. Warren Cook, General Manager of London Drugs. a national sponsor of Pink Shirt Day, told the crowd that over $400,000 has been raised to support anti-bullying awareness since the campaign began. The annual event ended with a photo of the downtown community standing shoulder to shoulder to support Pink Shirt Day.


    Feb. 23 COW Meeting Cancellation - Necessary??

    Did The
    Committee of the Whole Meeting
    Monday Feb. 23/15
    Have To Be Cancelled?

    The February 23/15 Committee of the Whole Meeting was the second COW meeting in a row now that has been cancelled. The previous one out of respect and concern for Councillor Fuller.

    There had been perhaps two hours worth of city business on the COW agenda for Feb. 23 which included several delegations including a report from Dr. Paul Hasselback, Medical Health Officer, Island Health which was the local area health profile for Nanaimo.

    At the end of the regular business, council was going to go in-camera to discuss certain matters under Community Charter Section 90 (1).

    Without any explanation that meeting was cancelled and replaced with a Special City Council Meeting which was conducted at the City Hall in the training room. That meeting ran from 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm which would make it appear as though the regular COW meeting business could have be taken care of with ample time to conclude the in-camera business.

    This council is clearly getting off to a rocky start and while no one expected miracles I am thinking optimism for positive change was running pretty high after the last election, but given recent events ..................... not so much now.


    Giant Octopus 'Hugs' Diver Near Port Hardy

    This Huffpost article reports of an encounter between a Canadian biologist and her scuba diving partner and a giant octopus while diving near Port Hardy. The biologist points to the encounter as dispelling the myth that octopuses are monstrous Kraken-like creatures.

    They can grow to almost 10 meters (33 feet) from arm tip to arm tip and weigh in at nearly 200 kilograms (441 pounds), they are inquisitive and intelligent.


    Tina's Diner Closing After Ten Years

    The following announcement appeared on Tina's Diner Facebook page, advising friends and customers that after a ten year run they will be closing as they can't negotiate an affordable lease with new owners. They also point out the family is now in the job market and are appealing to anyone who knows of employment opportunities.

    To all of our customers and friends, we are sorry to announce that Tina's diner is closing. Because of a long series of events we are no longer able to stay open. Due to the fact that our building has been sold and we are unable to obtain a reasonable lease, because to the best of our knowledge and understanding the new building owners want to take the building down to the ground.

    We are saddened to have to close and leave the downtown community. We want to thank everyone for an amazing 10 years. It has been our pleasure serving and getting to know all of you. We will miss you. Please like and share this story so we can reach as many of our customers as possible. Thank you to everyone for everything.

    Hello Everyone today was a little harder than most at the diner, but all of your comments and support has made today so much easier. Thank you so much. If any one knows of any employment opportunities the family is now on the job hunting trail. Paul, Kyra, PJ and Yvette are in need of employment. So any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again for everything.


    Pratt's Expenditures Exceed Income?

    While going over the election expense declarations the declaration filed by Wendy Pratt seemed to show her expenditures exceeded her income by $4,725.00.

    You will note the total income reported in box A was $7,180.00 while the total expendtiures reported in box B were $11,905.55 which at first glance raises the question of whether all expenses incurred were ever paid, and if so shouldn't that income be reported?


    2014 Civic Election Contribution Sources

    The above chart shows the total income reported for each candidate with the sources of that income shown by class either individual, corporate or trade union sources.


    Nanaimo Theatre Group Presents ......

    Absurd Person Singular

    Written by: Alan Ayckbourn
    By Permission of Samuel French

    Evenings: 8pm (Wednesday to Saturdays): 
    February 25-28 
    March 4-7, 11-14 

    Matinees: 2pm (Sunday): 
    March 1 & 8 

     Nanaimo Theatre Group


    Nanaimo's Revitalized Downtown - Port Place Mall

    Port Place Mall

    The newly renovated and revitalized Port Place Mall seems to prove you can attract people if there is something to attract them, and provide them with convenient parking.

    This new road running through the site offers convenient store front, angle parking on both sides of the street which seem to turn over fairly quickly. This is in addition to 'regular' mall parking both front and back and on the rooftop.


    Our New Nanaimo City Council

    Will They Ever Get Past The Stalemate?

    A stalemate is described by Merriam-Webster as: "a contest, dispute, competition, etc., in which neither side can gain an advantage or win."

    That would seem an apt description of what we are currently witnessing with our newly elected city council and their inability to come to a consensus as to how to proceed with the city budget for this year.

    At first blush it would seem that Mayor McKay and Councillors Brennan, Pratt and Thorpe are content with the .8% reduction in the budgeted increase for this year. As a matter of fact, all except Mayor McKay have expressed their concern for reducing spending at all.

    Councillors Bestwick, Kipp, Hong and Yoachim however, seem to think their jobs as councillors are based on input they received during the recent election compelling them to attempt to find further reductions in city spending.

    You would think this is hardly an insurmountable obstacle, and given that the budget does not have to receive final adoption until May 15th it would seem that time is on the side of those wishing to hold the line on taxes.

    In the COW meeting of Feb. 23 which was cancelled, council was asked to deal with $2.8 million in surplus allocation from 2014 taxes. These surplus funds, which represents over-taxation from 2014 could be applied to this years tax revenue which effectively would eliminate the need for any tax increases this year.

    One of the reasons these surpluses are popular with both council and city staff is the ability for large amounts of cash being available to spend without any public input. The new city hall annex is a prime example which allowed council to approve the expending of $13 million without having to seek taxpayer approval. That money was also spent on a building for which they never went to public tender.

    Given the deadlocked position of this council vis a vis this years budget, it will be interesting to see the performance when they try and agree on how to go about a core review later this year.

    It is hard to believe we are only a little over three months into a four year mandate with this council.


    Residential Apartment Building - Summerhill Place

    Nanaimo's stock of new residential apartments will be increasing by 103 units when this 4 storey frame building on Summerhill Place comes onto the market.

    The building's address is on Summerhill Place which comes off of Dufferin but the back of the building is fronting Townsite Road near Bowen Road.

    When this building was first proposed some parking concerns were expressed by nearby neighbours as the owner/developer had sought a relaxation of parking stalls required per unit. The building is likely eyeing staff working at nearby NRGH and any of a number of medical professional buildings in the neighbourhood as future tenants.


    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    Union Contributions To Nanaimo Councillors

    The above is taken from the recently released election expense declarations for candidates in the last civic election. 

    The total column is the total amount of money reported raised from all sources, the 'from unions' is the total which came from trade union/s and the final is the percentage of the total contributed by the union donation.

    This kind of support to the people who are directly responsible for approving union wage and benefit settlements has always been a topic worthy of more consideration than it seems to be given.

    It should be noted that for obvious reasons Gord Fuller's declarations were not filed on time, and in fact he may or may not have received any union support. It should not be assumed he did.


    Schmooze Productions - Spring Production

     RENT Tickets


    Peanut Allergy Could Be Avoided - Study Suggests

    According to this New York Times article a new study is turning conventional wisdom on its head when it comes to the dramatic rise in peanut allergies among children.

    An editorial published in The New England Journal of Medicine, along with the study, called the results "so compelling"  and the rise of peanut allergies "so alarming" that guidelines for how to feed infants at risk of peanut allergies should be revised soon.


    Aqua Residences Nanaimo - Taking Shape

    Artist Rendering From Website
    Construction Progress On Feb. 23

    The Condominium With No Strata Fees

    According to the company website these new condominiums billed as 'Nanaimo's Most Prestigious Address' will come with no strata fees. 

    The company claims:
    Aqua Residences is the first Development in Nanaimo that offers home owners “NO STRATA FEES” due to income revenue streams from four furnished 1 bedroom units owned by the purchasers as common property in the proposed luxury condominiums development.

    The rental revenue will be divided to all of the strata lot owners in the building on a percentage based on their unit entitlement. (Square footage of owners unit) The individual strata lot owner will then use the rental revenue to pay for their strata fees. No other developer on the island has given owners 4 furnished rental units as an incentive to purchase as an investment.


    Monday, February 23, 2015

    Nanaimo 2014 Civic Election Expense Declarations

    The above chart shows how much was spent during the 2014 election campaign by each of those elected. The armchair quarterbacks will have some fun parsing these results and the relationship between dollars spent and votes captured right up until the next election.

    Over the coming week, I intend to highlight where significant funding came from whether it be the corporate or union sector, both of which can be considered special interest groups who have a vested interest in seeing 'their' candidate elected.

    Only time will now tell how many councillors truly have the interest of the community as a whole as their central motive as opposed to catering to the interests of those who helped see them elected.

    I will also be posting some similar information of those candidates who spent large amounts of money and were not elected in the race for the 'big chair'.

    During this past civic election there were a total of 63,861 eligible voters, 21.752 ballots cast with a turnout rate of 34.1%. This compares with the 2011 election when there were 64,057 eligible voters, 17,222 ballots cast with a turnout rate of 26.9%.


    Maybe This Time Is The Charm?

    This Vancouver Courier article chronicles the history of downtown Vancouver to downtown Nanaimo ferry service. The one featured launched on Feb. 23 1969 and lasted four months before declaring bankruptcy.

    The 35 passenger service offered an hour long crossing for $7.00 which offered the same price as BC Ferries but took half as long. After this attempt at a downtown to downtown passenger service there have been two others which have failed for different reasons.

    Currently a fourth offering is in the works through IFSL which proposes a downtown to downtown service having already cut a deal with the city to lease space for a terminal on the Wellcox property which the company hopes to get underway subject to a Federal funding application.


    2015 - 2019 Nanaimo Financial Plan

    Can Anyone Figure What This Council Means?

    Anyone who tuned into the last City of Nanaimo Council Meeting was witness to what is a clearly divided and dare I say dysfunctional city council. 

    The subject where this great divide was witnessed was when it came to giving first three readings to the 2015 - 2019 Financial Plan which in the first year has a 1% tax increase which had been reduced from a 1.8% increase which had been originally budgeted.

    Four of our city council are not satisfied that the budget could only be reduced by .8%, while four members of council  were willing to adopt the proposed plan even though three of them felt their should be not cuts at all.

    A Short History Lesson

    The following is taken from 'draft' minutes of the Jan. 21 and Jan. 30 Special Committee of the Whole meetings. The are still draft minutes as this council has not held a regular COW meeting at which these minutes could be adopted. They were on the agenda for the cancelled Feb. 23rd meeting.

    On January 21 at a Special Committee of the Whole Meeting attended by Mayor McKay, Counillors Brennan, Thorpe, Pratt, Hong and Bestwick. Absent were Councillors Kipp, Yoachim and Fuller. At this meeting a motion was put forward by Mayor McKay (I believe) to instruct staff to return a budget for 2015 with a .8% cut which would arrive at a 1% increase for the year. This motion was opposed by both Hong and Bestwick both of whom argued that they would like to see more options than accepting only a .8% cut. This motion was passed with Bestwick and Hong opposed.

    It is more than likely that had Kipp, Yoachim and Fuller been in attendance, this motion would not have passed in the first place. Some of the absent councillors expressed their concern that they were not made aware this important budget item was going to be on the table at a 9:00 pm COW meeting.

    On the January 30 Special Committee of the Whole Meeting council was presented with 2015 - 2019 Plan reducing the increase to 1%. There was a motion to approve this plan and direct staff to bring forward a 2015 - 2019 Financial Plan Bylaw, this motion carried. This meeting was attended by Mayor McKay, Councillors Bestwick, Kipp, Hong, Brennan, Pratt and Thorpe, with Councillor Yoachim and Fuller (now in hospital) absent. This motion passed with councillors Brennan, Pratt and Thorpe opposed.

    At the Feb. 17 City Council Meeting, staff presented council with the proposed bylaw and asked for first, second and third reading. This motion was defeated on a tie vote, as was Councillor Kipp's motion seeking a 2% cut in the budget. This is the genesis of the budget having been put back on the table for discussion at the now, cancelled COW meeting of Feb. 23.

    The Bouncing Ball

    On the motion to reduce the tax increase for 2015 by .8% leaving a 1% increase in place, the following is the voting record of members of this council so far.

    On January 21:  In Favour : McKay, Brennan, Thorpe, Pratt Opposed: Hong, Bestwick Absent Kipp, Yoachim and Fuller.

    On January 30:  In Favour McKay, Bestwick, Hong, Kipp. Opposed Brennan, Thorpe Pratt. Absent Fuller and Yoachim.

    On February 23:  In Favour McKay, Brennan, Thorpe, Pratt. Opposed Hong, Yoachim, Bestwick and Kipp. Absent Fuller.

    Perhaps Councillor Bestwick hit the nail on the head with his suggestion that a ouija might be required to divine council business. It certainly could give one a headache if you are trying to follow what this council stands for. 


    Why Feb. 23 COW Meeting Cancelled?

    Why Has The
    Committee of the Whole Meeting
    Monday Feb. 23/15
    Been Cancelled?

    The original agenda posted for the Regular Committee of the Whole Meeting was to begin at 4:30 pm as usual and deal with a number of items before proceeding to an in-camera meeting to deal with items covered by Community Charter Section 90 (1).

    In what can only be described as an unusual move, the public portion of this meeting has been cancelled and moved from the Shaw Auditorium to the board room in the SARC building. This all happening on very short notice.

    This is now the second Committee of the Whole Meeting cancelled by this council, the last being the one immediately following Councillor Fuller's heart attack. While there are several items on the orginal agenda it is hard to imagine they would have taken much more than two hours to complete as the city business seemed quite light and there were a couple of delegations which may have taken an hour or so to hear.

    So unless the city is facing some earth-shattering crisis which will require a whole lot of city council's attention it would not have seemed too much to expect this council to spend a couple of hours dealing with regularly scheduled business, given this is now the second COW meeting to be cancelled.

    One might speculate that the agenda item " 2015 - 2019 Financial Plan - Discussion" might be cause for some angst, given the previous public discussions on this matter, but would hardly be an acceptable reason for cancelling this meeting entirely.


    Sunday, February 22, 2015

    A Life Lesson From An Honest Crook

    The following little tale was sent along by a regular blog reader. While I am sure the events have been made up with poetic licence, the life lesson conveyed does have the ring of truth to it!

    Armed, masked robbers entered a bank in a small Canadian town.

    One of them shouted: "Don't move! The money belongs to the bank. Your lives belong to you.” Immediately all the people in the bank laid on the floor quietly and without panic.

    This is an example of how the correct wording of a sentence can make everyone change their view of the world.

    One woman laid on the floor in a provocative manner. The robber approached her saying, 
    " Lady, this is a robbery not a rape. Please behave accordingly."

    This is an example of how to behave professionally, and focus on the goal .

    While running from the bank the youngest robber (who had a college degree) said to the oldest robber (who had barely finished elementary school): "Hey, maybe we should count how much we stole?"  The older man replied: "Don’t be stupid. It's a lot of money so let's wait for the news on TV to find out how much money was taken from the bank."

    This is an example of how life experience is more important than a degree.

     After the robbery, the manager of the bank said to his accountant:
    "Let's call the cops and tell them how much has been stolen." "Wait”, said the Accountant, "before we do that, let's add that money we took for ourselves over the past few months and also add in any other problems and just say that it was stolen as part of today’s robbery." 

    This is an example of taking advantage of an opportunity.

    The following day it was reported in the news that the bank was robbed of $3 million.
    The robbers then counted the money, but they found only $1 million so they started to grumble. "We risked our lives for $1 million, while the bank's management robbed two million dollars without blinking?  Maybe its better to learn how to work the system, instead of being a simple robber." 

    This is an example of how knowledge can be more useful than power.

    Moral : Give a person a gun, and he can rob a bank . Give a person a bank, and he can rob everyone!


    Snow In Canada - Takes Different Forms

    Some snow drops in Summerside, as witnessed by this picture posted on BuzzFeed.

    Some Snowdrops in Nanaimo, British Columbia as posted on Nanaimo Info Blog.


    A West Coast Moment by Sheryl Falls

    One of Nanaimo's Hidden Gems


    Nanaimo Swim to Survive Program Helps 940 Kids

    The Lifesaving Society of B.C. recently presented City of Nanaimo and School District 68 representatives with a cheque for $21,972 to help fund the 'Swim to Survive' program.

    From February until the middle of April the program will see that all grade 3 children in School District 68 will have had the opportunity to participate in the program which prepares children for an unexpected fall into deep water.

    The program will see 941 children in the district engage in three classroom sessions and three sessions in the water at Nanaimo Aquatic Centre which, as the name implies, will teach them how to swim to survive should they find themselves suddenly in deep water.

    The city and school district have joined hands to see the program is available to all children regardless of any boundaries that might limit participation. The school district teachers participate in the parent notifications etc. and also provides transportation to and from the pool. Nanaimo Parks, Recreation and the Environment staff provide instruction at the pool which will make participants able to survive should they fall into deep water.

    Kudos for an excellent and potentially lifesaving program.


    Friday, February 20, 2015

    Nanaimo COW Meeting February 23, 2015

    Committee of the Whole Meeting
    Monday, Feb. 23 , 2015
    4:30 PM Shaw Auditorium
    Vancouver Island Conference Centre


    The COW meeting scheduled for Monday, Feb. 23 has been cancelled by Mayor McKay.

    A number of items on the agenda will have to wait for a future meeting to resolve.

    One item is the 2014 Surplus allocation. Staff is recommending council put the $2.8 million surplus from 2014 into two different surplus accounts.

    It is worthy of note, that this is tax money collected from Nanaimo taxpayers which exceeded expenditures by $2.8 million. Choosing to return this over taxation to Nanaimo taxpayers in the year 2015 would mean no need for a tax increase.

    Council will be attending an in-camera meeting on Monday afternoon starting at 4:30 pm. I speculate the purpose of the meeting as an attempt at compromise between the councillors wanting to reduce taxes and those more than happy continuing on the tax and spend path.


    Wellcox Property Archaeological Findings Update

    I asked the city if they intended to continue with any more work on the Wellcox Property site until the matter of the 'significant archaeological findings' was resolved. If this site turns into a major archaeological site, then whatever plans the city may have for it's use could be forever altered. It seems to just make sense to determine that before we spend more money on anything else related to the site.

    Follows is the reply I received from Mr. Dale Lindsay, Director of Community Development, City of Nanaimo to my question about how the city is now proceeding with this site:

    Although not listed on the Provincial Archaeological Register, the City was aware of the potential for archaeological remains at 190 Front Street prior to the issuance of the demolition permit for the former pallet building. As such, after contacting the Snuneymuxw First Nation, Millennia Research Limited was hired by the City to monitor the demolition and soil leveling work undertaken at the subject property and to ensure that there were no inadvertent impacts to unrecorded archaeological deposits. Field work was conducted in November and early December by Millennia and a representative of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. 

     During the monitoring process, a number of areas on the site tested positive for archaeological sediments, however none of the sites were disturbed as a result of the demolition or associated site grading. As a result of our investigative work on the site it has now been recorded on the Provincial Archaeological Register. 

     As specified by the Provincial Archaeology Branch, protected sites may not be altered whether by development or archaeological work without a permit issued under the Heritage Conservation Act. The next step would be to complete an archaeological impact assessment/inventory, in collaboration with the Snuneymuxw First Nation, for the subject site and surrounding City owned lands. This work would help inform any site planning proposals for the land.

    I have asked Mr. Lindsay for an estimate of the cost and time involved to complete an archaeological impact assessment/inventory.


    When Did Council Motions Become Suggestions?

    Does City Staff Just Do As They Please?

    Recently there are two glaring examples of what some might see as outright insubordination on the part of city hall staff. What else would explain not carrying out the wishes of city council as directed by a duly passed motion of council.

    Colliery Dam - the first example

    Councillor Bill Yoachim made the following motion which was passed by all of council with the exception of Diane Brennan:

    Whereas engineering reports have indicated that the Colliery Dams are in much better condition than previously considered;
    The risk assessment indicates significantly less consequence to downstream residents;
    The Dams have now been re-classified and are no longer extreme consequence;
    It was moved and seconded that Council receive the Colliery Dams Update report and direct Staff to:
    (a) not proceed with any design work or expenditure for the alternate drainage course/swale for the Lower Colliery Dam;
    (b) consult with and engage other primary stakeholders including Snuneymuxw First Nation, the Colliery Dam Park Preservation Society, and the general public in order to revise as deemed necessary the Dam Safety Management Program (latest version February 2013) which revision will reflect the recent change in classification and in addition to revise the emergency plan and measures, including signage and monitoring measures;
    (c) report on the revisions determined from the above and to seek Council’s further direction at that time;
    (d) consult and engage the primary stakeholders named above in any and all future process and planning, including any proposed remedial measures regarding the Colliery Dams Park; and,

    (e) amend the Schedule for Remediation to reflect the current lowered classification to permit more time to investigate and prepare a revised plan for any required remediation when determined and to inform the Dam Safety Section of the above direction by Council.

    The following is a report that appeared in the local press:

    City manager Ted Swabey said Wednesday that on Friday he had sent the province a copy of a motion passed by council, as the city was "clearly" not going to meet a Feb. 27 deadline to submit a plan for work on the dams.

    "I need to know what, if anything, (the province) is going to do," said Swabey, adding the response will be a key factor in what steps the city can take next on the issue.

    There is nothing in Councillor Yoachim's motion that could be interpreted as saying we want to ask the Dam Safety Branch if what we have decided to do with OUR dams is OK with them.

    The Nanaimo taxpayers have already set fire to $2.5 million for what is arguably just one big boondoggle which has made little sense to anyone who has followed this closely from the beginning.

    Councillor Yoachim's motion appeared to finally be bringing some common sense to this issue which has defied logic for a long time now. Hopefully, staff will be instructed to fulfil the wishes of council without further delay.