Friday, February 20, 2015

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.



  1. Like having to hold a kid by the hand...councillors now have to look over the minutes and call the city manager to make sure their motion was carried out.

    So much for paying big bucks to staff who are supposedly capable of fulfilling tasks on their own!

  2. Due process would require that council write Mr. Swabey up for insubordination. A penalty should be accessed and implemented to deter Mr. Swabey from further acts such as this. If he does it again another write up and larger penalty. The third time cancel his contract and show him the door.
    Time for council to manage their employees.


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