Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Island Roots Market Co-op Wednesday

Pleasant Valley Hall
6100 Doumont Road (off Metral Dr.)
Wednesday 3:00 - 6:00 pm


Clean Birdfeeders Keep Birds Healthy

Recent Siskin Invasion At My Feeder

VICTORIA – Bird lovers are encouraged to help protect bird populations and prevent the spread of infectious diseases through the regular cleaning of birdfeeders and birdbaths.

During spring, many small migratory songbirds are returning home from winter retreats to the south. Species such as pine siskins, redpolls and grosbeaks are commonly found in large flocks at this time of year. This can result in high-density congregations of birds around birdfeeders and water sources such as birdbaths.

While this is a wonderful opportunity for birders, the increased density of the birds as well as the stress of weather and nutrition challenges can lead to the spread of serious and even fatal diseases among the birds, such as avian conjunctivitis, avian pox virus and salmonella bacterium. Some diseases not only threaten local bird populations, but can spread to pets and people handling infected birds or contaminated materials.

The public can help maintain bird health and prevent the spread of these diseases through a number of simple measures. The most important thing people can do is to clean their birdfeeders and birdbaths regularly. This should include replacing birdbath water every few days, and scrubbing and cleaning feeders and birdbaths as well as the area around them at least every couple of weeks. Other things bird lovers can do to help include:

  • Spreading out multiple feeders to discourage crowding. Use smaller feeders that allow only one or two birds at a time, and that are made of plastic or metal, rather than wood.
  • Keep the area under the feeders clean. Locating them above cement will make this task easier.
  • If you see one or two diseased birds in your area, take your feeder down immediately and clean it.
  • If you have more than three diseased birds in your area, encourage the birds to disperse for a while. Take your feeders down for a week or two, clean them well, and re-hang them.
  • Consider letting your neighbours know so that they can take action too.
Identifying affected birds varies with the disease, but here are some common signs to look for:
  • Birds with avian conjunctivitis have red, swollen, watery or crusted eyes, and may have trouble feeding. You may see them remaining on the ground near the feeder. This disease may be spread by feeders with small openings that birds rub the sides of their heads on.
  • Birds with avian pox virus may have warty lesions on the unfeathered parts of their head, legs or feet.
  • Birds with salmonella bacterium may be found dead or appear very tame and sit quietly for hours or days, often with their feathers fluffed out. Salmonella can easily spread to pets or humans and so strict hygiene should be enforced in these situations.
To learn more about preventing disease problems at birdfeeders, click HERE


Things on the Net that make ya' smile

Most popular tree in the dog park??


Monday, March 30, 2015

Bill McKay's Campaign Colliery Dam Position

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

Candidate McKay's Colliery Dam Position


Dogs Not Allowed On Nanaimo Beaches

Photo courtesy Sheryl Falls 

The City of Nanaimo recently released this reminder to dog owners reminding them that dogs are not allowed on Nanaimo's public beaches from May 1 - October 1. Non compliance can be subject to a $150 fine.

Dogs Not Allowed On Nanaimo Public Beaches

The City of Nanaimo would like to remind dog owners that from May 1 to October 1 dogs are not allowed on Nanaimo's public beaches.

During this time of year the shoreline is active with migrating and breeding wildlife that should not be disturbed along with more people wanting to enjoy the beach.

Dog feces is essentially raw sewage. It contains harmful organisms like E. coli, Leptospira and roundworms. These organisms can be contracted by other dogs, wildlife and even children. Bacteria from dog poop can wash into the ocean.

Dog owners who are caught with their dog in a public beach area will face a fine of $150. To report dog issues, please call Animal Control at 250-754-1397.

To report dog issues, please call Animal Control at 250-754-1397.

"Our shorelines are busy places this time of year with wildlife needing space to rest, feed and breed and people wanting to spend long sunny days on the beach. Nanaimo has many other parks including 12 designated off-leash parks that dogs are welcome to explore year-round." Randy Churchill Manager of Bylaw, Regulation & Security City of Nanaimo

Nanaimo Off-leash Areas

The following parks have designated off-leash areas: May Richards Bennett Pioneer, Beaufort, Westwood Lake, Invermere Beach, Northfield, Wardropper, Colliery Dam, St. George Ravine, Gallow's Point (Protection Island), Cable Bay Trail and Beban.


Nanaimo Awarded TD Green Streets Grant

Nanaimo Awarded $13,300 - TD Green Streets Program

Over 50 trees to be planted in Hawthorne Park

The City of Nanaimo has been awarded a $13,300 grant to plant trees in Hawthorne Park from TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and Tree Canada as part of the TD Green Streets program. Nanaimo was chosen out of 125 applicants for the grant, along with 22 other communities across Canada.

Hawthorne Park is a 1.5 hectare (3.7 acre) neighbourhood green space near Wakesiah Road. The park was designed to meet community recreational needs and serve as a catchment basin for the surrounding subdivision and features walking trails and a stormwater retention pond. 

The City of Nanaimo and park neighbours applied for the grant to further the community’s park improvements vision. Grant contributions will help to see over 50 trees of differing size and species planted to provide more shade near the new playground and contribute to the overall urban forest, park ecology and quality of the neighbourhood.  Interpretive signage about the unique park features and benefits of trees will also be installed.

The park was improved in 2014 under the City’s Volunteers in Parks Program. Residents and the City partnered to install a new playground and create a community gathering hub. Several community barbeques and events have since been held in this public area.


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Busting Out In Nanaimo

Another sign spring has arrived in Nanaimo. Meanwhile on the east coast of Canada, they still have need of snowblowers.


Orcas' Rubbing Beach Caught On Video

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

This amateur video was captured last January near Campbell River at Discovery Islands. Apparently this is an Orcas' idea of a day at the spa.


Food Production Benefits of GMO

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

Pro GMO Presentation

There is no shortage of anti-GMO information being presented by it's opponents, Mr. Saik offers an opposing viewpoint supporting the improved food production benefits. Like everything you see on the Internet; just because it is on the Net doesn't necessarily mean it is true. 

He raises an interesting argument, that through genetic modification crops can be more drought resistant, pest resistant and better able to extract nutrients from the soil. This ultimately helps support the organic goals of using less fertilizer and herbicides in the production of our food.

The date of this presentation is January of this year, so I presume his data is current.


More Photo Artistry by Sheryl Falls

'A Walk in the Park' is the fitting title for another piece of paradise through the lens of Sheryl Falls. She included the following quote with this photo:

the front door to springtime is a photographer/s best friend - Terri Guillements

You can enjoy more of Sheryl Falls work by viewing either her website or photostream.


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Colliery Dam Video by 5 Star Aerial Photography

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

Wade Pringle of 5 Star Aerial Photography has put together this fantastic video which captures all the attributes of Colliery Dam Park that users love so much.

Take a look at this video, and if you aren't a Colliery Dam Park fan now, you are sure to become one.


Earls Nanaimo Closing April 30/15

Earls Nanaimo Closes April 30/15

Earls Nanaimo Closes After 25 Years

The Earls restaurant in the Rock City plaza has announced they will be permanently closing as of April 30/15.

An announcement posted on their Twitter page offers no reason for the closure but thanks all their patrons and the service companies they have dealt with over the years for their support.

You can read the announcement on their Twitter page HERE.


Nanaimo Future Shop To Reopen April 4

Nanaimo Future Shop reopens as Best Buy April 4

Nanaimo future shop to reopen April 4

Nanaimo Future Shop To Reopen April 4/15

The Nanaimo Future Shop located in Country Club Mall is temporarily closed until next Saturday and will reopen under the BEST BUY brand in the same location.

They might even have some door crashing, super hot deals when they reopen. Hmmm, maybe that new computer will be in my budget now. Can always dream!


Future Shop Stores Close In Canada

future shop closes canadian stores

66 Future Shop Stores Close
65 Stores Re-brand as Best Buy

Best Buy Canada in Burnaby announced today they are closing all Future Shop stores in Canada and will be renovating 65 of them to re-open under the Best Buy brand. The following announcement was released today by the company:

BURNABY, BC – March 28, 2015 – To strengthen its position as Canada’s leading provider of consumer electronics products, services and solutions, Best Buy Canada, a subsidiary of Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) – which owns and operates both Best Buy and Future Shop stores – today announced it is consolidating the Future Shop and Best Buy stores and websites under the Best Buy brand and unveiled an ambitious plan to build a leading multi-channel customer experience.

Best Buy Canada also announced today it has reviewed its real estate footprint to address the fact that a significant number of its Future Shop and Best Buy stores are located adjacent to each other, often in the same parking lot. The result of this review is the closure of 66 Future Shop locations, effective today. Concurrently, an additional 65 Future Shop stores will be temporarily closed for one week as they begin their transition to the Best Buy brand. The company will now have a total of 192 locations across Canada, including 136 large-format stores and 56 Best Buy Mobile stores.

“Currently, 80 per cent of our customers are within a 15 minute drive to a store and this won’t change,” said Ron Wilson, President and COO of Best Buy Canada. “We will continue to have a strong store presence in all major markets in Canada.”

As a result of this consolidation, approximately 500 full-time and 1,000 part-time positions will be eliminated. The affected employees will receive severance, employee assistance and outplacement support.

Customers with any questions can visit BestBuy.ca/questions or call 1-866-BEST-BUY (1-866-237-8289). Customers who visit FutureShop.ca will be guided to BestBuy.ca.


Watermain Flushing March 30 - April 3 2015

Nanaimo watermain flushing

March 30 to April 3:
  • Bowen Road/Meredith Road/Northfield Road area
  • Rosstown Road/Labieux Road/Diver's Lake area
  • Uplands Drive/Turner Road/Lost Lake Road/Rutherford Road area


Nanaimo City Hall Top Earners

nanaimo city hall wage increases

Nanaimo City Hall Wage Increases

The above chart has been published before and of course is now out of date, and I will not have the numbers for 2014 until the end of June if reporting goes as usual.

On Monday city council will be taken through a financial plan review process where they will go over line by line of individual expenses included in the budget. By the time they have gone through that exercise they will be convinced there is likely nothing that can be taken out of the budget.

However, you will note that the subject of wages and benefits at city hall are never part of this discussion or comparison which makes you wonder if either council or city staff have ever been serious about dealing with rising taxes.

Council recently approved another 6% staff wage increase over the next three years, an increase that the exempt staff will enjoy as well. Not only is this wage increase well ahead of the private sector but is even out of line with other union settlements across the province. For example, it was recently announced that COPE had settled with ICBC for 5.5% over 5 years.

When exempt staff increases are going to go up in lock-step with union increases, you have to wonder if this doesn't introduce a conflict of interest in the whole process.

You have to wonder how anyone feels entitled to wage increases ranging from $31,000 - $53,000 over a five year period. 


Lions FREE Skate March 29, 2015


Friday, March 27, 2015

Sun Shines On Nanaimo Boat Show 2015

nanaimo 2015 boat show

nanaimo 2015 boat show

nanaimo 2015 boat show

Nanaimo Boat Show 2015

1000 Stewart Ave. Nanaimo

March 27 - 12:00 - 6:00 pm
March 28 - 10:00 - 6:00 pm
March 29 - 10:00 - 6:00 pm

One Day Pass - $8.00
Weekend Pass - $10.00

Children under 12 - free


Harbour City Star Stops Publishing April 10

An article in the local Daily about the recent Black Press purchase of the Nanaimo Daily News and the Harbour City Star reports the Star will cease publishing on April 10.

The new owners intend to focus their energies on growing their circulation and improving the quality of the product in this market. Eventually the printing and mail room at the Daily News will close and the paper will be produced at Black's more modern printing plant in Ladysmith. The move will mean the loss of about 20 jobs at the Daily.

This means that with the ownership of the News Bulletin and the Daily News there is no advertising competition in the local market in the print media. Whether that serves the business community well or not, only time will tell as market pressures to keep ad rates down, don't likely exist.


Nanaimo Needs A 'Sun-Dance' For The Weekend

Nanaimo residents are never deterred by a little 'liquid sunshine' but more of the other kind would be appreciated for the last weekend of spring break. 

The Nanaimo Boat Show returns this weekend and there are events planned in Diana Krall Plaza for Saturday, both of which could benefit from clear blue skies and a a smiling sun shining upon us.


50 Shades of Grey - West Coast Style

Photo artist Sheryl Falls aptly titled this picture '50 Shades of Grey'


Hydro Bill and Pre Paid Credit Cards Scam

Nanaimo RCMP warn residents of a scam with a call from someone claiming to be with BC Hydro, and instructions to use pre-paid Visa cards. A Nanaimo woman lost hundreds of dollars as a victim of this con.

Near the first part of March, the 48-year-old woman got a call from a person saying they worked for BC Hydro. Call display identified the call was coming from Utah. The woman was told she owed money and her power would be shut off for non payment.

She was instructed to buy pre-paid Visa top-up cards, scratch the back off and give the numbers to “BC Hydro”. She purchased $1000 worth, and gave the information to the caller.

When called a few days later saying they needed more money the victim became suspicious and called the real BC Hydro in Nanaimo. She was told that BC Hydro would never do such a thing.

Nanaimo RCMP investigators called the phone number in Utah. The person quickly hung up when asked for their location. A Google search revealed numerous fraud complaints linked to the same number.

The victim will not be able to recover her money, but could have avoided the loss by simply calling BC Hydro in Nanaimo.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Colliery Dams Delegation March 16/15 'Opinions'

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

Lack of public scrutiny of 'Professional Opinions'

I appeared before Council on March 16 and attempted to make the point that at one time we had an 'opinion' with a P Eng. stamp attached claiming 150 people could die as the dams failed catastrophically in a seismic event. We spent about $1,000,000.00 to get that professional opinion under the direction of city staff. That process was never subject to public scrutiny.

We have now spent another $1,500,000.00 on another study which has disproved the first conclusion about seismic failure and loss of life. This study, complete with a P Eng stamp affixed now claims we need to spend upwards of $8 million to deal with a possible overtopping event.

The similarities of these two processes is the complete lack of public scrutiny of a city staff directed process. The result is a complete lack of confidence in the findings of either process.

As I stated before council " I certainly hope we can get a refund for the first conclusion". Perhaps a third, totally open process will result in us being able to get a refund for the second conclusion as well.

City Hall has expended all of it's 'credibility capital' on this file.

Why the URGENCY?

When we were being told as many as 150 lives could be lost in a sudden seismic event which could cause the dams to fail in less than 4 minutes, there was the sense of urgency that we needed to get something done NOW.

Well, it turns out that whole seismic scenario was not supported by the facts, the second study proved that detail. The new scenario requiring our concern and expending of millions of tax dollars involves the possibility a huge rain event would cause the dams to overtop, wash away tons of rock and fill which would expose the dam wall, which would then fail.

Even if all of those 'could happen' events did in fact happen, there would be sufficient warning to evacuate everyone from harms way. Now the sense of urgency has been eliminated, so why are city staff and some city councillors so hell-bent on spending as much as $8 million to solve a problem that may not actually exist?

There seems to be a pretty cavalier attitude on the part of some councillors as to how much scrutiny they should give to this issue which may in fact not be an issue at all.

This is hardly the time to let DSB bully Nanaimo taxpayers into spending $8 million on an opinion of one P Eng that may be no more valid than the opinion of the first P Eng.


Nanaimo Woman Loses $125,000 On Facebook

A Nanaimo woman lost $125,000 dollars after being scammed by a male she met on Facebook.

The female victim, who is in her 70’s, met the suspect after accepting a “friend” request from him on Facebook. Over the course of several months she developed what she believed was a close friendship. The suspect, who went by the name of “Tom BROWN”, told our victim he was an engineer for an oil company in Africa, he was from the United Kingdom, and had a ten year old daughter who still lived there. He needed money to fix his work equipment and the money began to flow. On another occasion he asked for money to assist with a medical emergency after he claimed to have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident.

At one point, a “friend” of the suspect contacted our victim to let her know BROWN had slipped into a coma as a result of the motor vehicle accident. To further convince her the accident was legit, the “friend” sent a picture of BROWN in a hospital bed. Investigators later examined it and it was clear a different head had been photo shopped onto the person lying in the bed

Our victim did become somewhat suspicious but nevertheless continued having dialogue with the suspect. Soon the plot took an expected turn after she was contacted by an agent claiming to be working with “Interpol”. This person told her BROWN was being investigated for fraudulent activity, however for the investigation to continue she would be required to pay $5000. At this time, she contacted the Nanaimo RCMP and broke off dialogue with Tom BROWN.

“You can take the spots off a leopard but at the end of day, it’s still a leopard, “said Constable Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP. “This ploy had all the bookmarks of a scam. First, the suspect develops a relationship with the victim and used it to tug at your heart strings. Next is a personal tragedy where money is desperately needed. Fraudsters troll popular social media sites assuming a variety of online personas. It is also not uncommon for men to create a female profile and vice versa for females. It is probable too the suspect was working a number of potential victims at the same time,”said O’Brien.

The best advice in situations like this is to never send money to anyone you meet on line and cannot verify their existence. “Our investigators will attempt to identify the suspect but it is an arduous process and at the end of the day may not result in criminal charges,”said O’Brien.

For more info on frauds, scams and on line security, visit www.bc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca or www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca


Special COW Meeting - Mon. Mar. 30/15

Committee of the Whole Meeting
Monday, March 30, 2015
9:00 AM Board Room
411 Dunsmuir Street

Note: This is a Special Open Committee of the Whole Meeting
  • 2015 - 2019 Draft Financial Plan Discussion; presentation by Mr. Clemens
  • Garbage Truck Automation - presentation Mr. Geoff Goodall 

     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 "!


    B.C. Societies Act Provides Flexibility, Accountability

    Michael de Jong
    VICTORIA – A modern and updated Societies Act will allow not-for-profit organizations to operate more effectively and efficiently, while at the same time protecting the public interest, Minister of Finance Michael de Jong announced today.

    Bill 24, the Societies Act, was introduced in the legislature today. The statute provides rules for the creation and governance of not-for-profit organizations in B.C.

    The new Societies Act distinguishes between publicly funded societies and member-funded societies. Publicly funded societies, such as charities or others that receive significant public funding, will be subject to several new accountability measures. These include requiring that the majority of board directors not be employees or contractors of the society and that directors’ compensation be publicly disclosed.

    Member-funded societies, such as sports clubs and professional organizations, will be exempt from these requirements.

    The new act adopts specific corporate governance procedures from the Business Corporations Act, but generally provides societies with the flexibility to create governance bylaws based on their unique characteristics and the needs of the communities they serve.

    As well, societies will be able to file documents electronically with the corporate registry.

    The introduction of the new act follows two rounds of consultations with stakeholders and members of the public, during which the Province received more than 200 unique submissions. The input gathered from the consultation process allowed the Province to reflect and accommodate the diverse nature of the not-for-profit sector in B.C.

    Subject to the approval of the legislature, the government expects the new act will come into force approximately 18 months after royal assent.

    The current Society Act was enacted in 1977 and governs more than 27,000 societies in B.C. which range from small community-based organizations to large charitable ones.


    Mayor and Council Mail Goes To City Manager

    This morning I sent an email to Mr. Pamminger with some questions about the city's energy savings as outlined in their recent press release. I copied the email to Mayor and Council just as a matter of information to my city council.

    To my surprise I got an autoresponder email saying that Mr. Swabey was out of the office until April 5 and that Mr. Seward was acting City Manager in the meantime.

    I emailed Mayor McKay to confirm that copies of emails being sent to Mayor and Council are also copied to the city manager as I had not addressed it to Mr. Swabey. He replied in the affirmative.


    Nanaimo Energy Management Yields Big Saving

    $1.9 Million Saving Follow Upgrades

    The City of Nanaimo has cut energy costs by a total of $1.9 million between 2009 and 2014 thanks to a mix of building, vehicle upgrades and other measures.  These reductions equate to saving 11,508 litres of oil and 11.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity.

    The results show the City is exceeding its annual target of reducing its energy consumption by one per cent each year.  The City spends an estimated $4 million each year on energy. Of that amount, $2.2 million or 54 per cent is spent on electricity, including lighting costs. The next largest costs are natural gas, which total $857,148 a year, or 21 per cent.  Gasoline and diesel costs make up 13 per cent and 11 per cent of the total costs.

    All energy costs have seen a downward trend over the past five years to varying degrees.  A one per cent  energy savings would yield $30,000 in savings to the City a year; last year the City avoided $117,000 in energy costs.  BC Hydro and other organizations have so far provided - or are set to provide - the City with $1.4 million in financial incentives to switch to energy efficient upgrades on various City projects.

    "Results show the City is exceeding its annual target of reducing its energy consumption by one percent each year." Bruce Joiner  Retired Infrastructure Planning and Energy Manager City of Nanaimo 


    B.C. Ferries Fares Increase April 1, 2015

    BC Ferries announced today that both a tariff increase approved by the BC Ferries Commissioner, as well as a fuel rebate will occur on April 1, 2015.

    Fares for vehicles and passengers will rise by 3.9 per cent on average on April 1, 2015. At the same time, a fuel rebate of 1 per cent will be implemented on major and minor routes. On the northern routes between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert and Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, fares for vehicles and passengers will increase by 2 per cent on average.

    Effective April 1, 2015, the net effect for customers on the major and minor routes will be an increase on average of 2.9 per cent on the price of a ticket. The northern routes are not subject to fuel surcharges or rebates. The fuel surcharge/rebate mechanism is separate from the tariff calculation and any fuel rebate or surcharge is strictly a pass through from the fuel deferral accounts. With the company's fuel hedges in place, the fuel rebate should stay in place at least through the summer months, and possibly into next year. BC Ferries will keep a close watch on the fuel deferral account balances with a view to extending the rebate as long as is practical.

    April 1, 2015 Nanaimo and Gabriola Fares

    Horsehoe Bay - Departure Bay and Tsawwassen - Duke Point
    Departure Bay - Horsehoe Bay and Duke Point - Tsawwassen

    Passenger fares current = $16.25  increases to $16.70
    Vehicle fare current = $53.25 - $54.80

    Gabriola - Nanaimo Harbour (return fare)

    Passenger fare = current $10.80 increases to $11.10
    Vehicle fare = current $25.45 - $26.15


    Wednesday, March 25, 2015


    Nanaimo Watering Restrictions Watched This Year

    City Monitoring Water Levels

    With zero snow pack this past winter, the City is concerned that water supply may be stressed. Rain will help keep the reservoir level full, but long stretches of dry weather can deplete the reservoir quickly.

    Nanaimo Engineering & Public Works staff are monitoring water levels closely, and will issue biweekly updates on the level of watering restrictions. Watering restrictions will start as usual this year on June 1 and reservoir levels will be monitored with an eye to increasing the restrictions from Level 1 (normal) to Level 2 which imposes further restrictions if needed.

    For Conservation Level 1, even numbered addresses can water on the EVEN days of the month (e.g. June 2, 4, 6). Odd numbered addresses can water on the ODD days of the month (e.g. June 1, 3, 5)

    For Conservation Level 2, even numbered addresses can water on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Odd numbered addresses can water on Thursdays and Sundays.


    Nanaimo Daily News Loses 20 Jobs

     Island Newspapers Close
    Black Press Closes Two Island Papers
    Cuts Twenty Nanaimo Jobs

    CHEK News reports that the purchase of eight Island newspapers by Black Press from Glacier Media is resulting in the closing of the Campbell River Courier-Islander and the Oceanside Star. For the time being the other papers including Comox, Nanaimo and Port Alberni will continue to operate.

    The printing and mailing staff at the Daily News will be losing their jobs as production is moved to Black's Ladysmith printing plant.

    How long the Nanaimo Daily News, the Harbour City Star and the Nanaimo News Bulletin will operate in the same market, competing for the same ad dollars will likely be the subject of Black Press boardroom discussions over the coming few months.

    Whether Nanaimo can support a daily publication is questionable as the Daily struggles to retain it's daily subscription base, having less than 5,000 subscribers currently. The big 'prize' in the local market is the flyer distribution which has been dominated by the Bulletin, with it's city-wide coverage for quite sometime.

    I predict, it is only a matter of time before whatever papers survive in Nanaimo are produced from one facility employing amalgamated staffing under one roof. Maintaining duplicate overhead, simply doesn't make any business sense.

    How people get the news and stay engaged in their community has become a moving target with the advent of the internet and online publishing. Providing effective advertising which costs big bucks has become more and more challenging for the print media.

    On a local level, this little blog (Nanaimo-Info-Blog) has been online since 2007 and has gradually gathered a following of several thousand on a daily basis, and as many as 10,000 on a weekly basis depending on what 'news' is the hot item that week.


    Nanaimo Boat Show This Weekend

    Nanaimo Boat Show 2015

    The Nanaimo Boat Show is returning to the Harbour City from March 27 - 29 at the new, state of the art marina at The Waterfront Suites and Marina, 1000 Stewart Avenue.

    For more information about this great event visit the Nanaimo Boat Show website.


    Tuesday, March 24, 2015

    Public Sector Workers Earn More, Work Less

    Topping-up government wages & benefits costs taxpayers $20 billion per year

    VANCOUVER, March 23, 2015 – If you work in the private sector, you’re making up to $8,500 less per year, and working up to six hours more each week, than someone doing the same job for the government. This is one of several key findings from the latest Wage Watch report released today by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), pointing to a huge wage and benefits advantage for public sector workers over their counterparts in the private sector.

    When salaries, benefits and working hours are factored in, the average federal, provincial or municipal employee makes 18-37 per cent more than someone doing the same job in a private business. Canada Post workers and federal government employees are the biggest beneficiaries. 

    Urban transit in B.C. also had one of the biggest gaps in the country, with workers making 25.6 per cent more in salaries than their private sector counterparts, and 36.7 per cent more in salaries and benefits. 

    The report compares private sector employees to those at various government employers, and offers clear solutions to close the earnings gap between these workers, such as capping taxpayer-funded contributions to government pensions.

    If government workers were paid at the same rate as their private sector equivalents, taxpayers would save $20 billion each year. 

    “The public-private wage gap is the elephant in every room when it comes to setting the public policy agenda in this country,” said Ted Mallett, chief economist and vice-president at CFIB. “Public sector earnings have been allowed to drift well above market-tested norms, and cash-strapped governments are looking for ways to invest in infrastructure and other priorities. Closing the gap is not just what’s fair, it’s what is needed.” 

    Based chiefly on National Household Survey (NHS) returns from 2011, the findings represent average full-time employment earnings for more than 7.2 million Canadians. Occupations that don’t exist in both sectors are excluded.

    In British Columbia, it was pretty much the same story as the national picture: a continued and substantial gap in salary and benefits in favour of public sector employees, even after adjustments for differences in occupational mix, age, and education. 

    “It comes down to a basic issue of fairness. Since these jobs are supported by taxpayers, it is completely appropriate to ask questions about these salary and benefit gaps, and the impact on the public purse’, said Laura Jones, Executive Vice-President for CFIB.
    “This is particularly true since people in the Metro Vancouver region are voting, as we speak, in a plebiscite to add a new municipal sales tax to pay for infrastructure. Yet, even a small narrowing of the compensation gap over time could produce savings that would completely nullify any arguable need for new tax revenues”, concluded Jones.

    The full CFIB report is available online at their website HERE.


    The Cost Of Housing The Homeless

    Taking care of the vulnerable in our society is something, we as Canadians have done a reasonably good job of. Our current poverty issues are not limited to local circumstance (although our local economy is an issue) global finance and market pressures all have their role to play.

    In Nanaimo what is being called a Provincial Homelessness Initiative is under construction, and when complete will provide housing for 41 people, men or women.

    You have to wonder if the cost of housing 41 souls who are either 'homeless, or in danger of becoming homeless' is really being administered in the most cost effective manner possible.

    Total cost of this project (to build) is $9.6 million which I don't believe includes land cost, or development fees the city waived. The ongoing provincial commitment for this facility is said to be $1.2 million.

    If my calculator is accurate this means the per unit cost of this housing is at least $234,140.00 and the ongoing cost per unit is $29,268.00 per year.

    The last time I checked on average rents in Nanaimo, for decent accommodation a 2 bedroom apartment was renting for about $800.00/mo all in. If this is an accurate comparison, it means that people who are either homeless or in danger of becoming homeless could be housed for about $9600/yr.


    Pirate Swim Nanaimo Aquatic Centre Mar. 29

    Pirate swim at Nanaimo Aquatic Centre

    Nanaimo Aquatic Centre will "batten down the hatches" and get the plank ready for some pirate fun this upcoming Sunday with a special Pirate Swim.

    From 3:30 pm to 6:00 pm, the aquatic centre will be host to a number of pirate themed games and activities including a treasure hunt, water walkway, walk the plank and prizes. There will be a special $3 admission for this event.


    Monday, March 23, 2015

    British Columbia Auditor General Fired

    Coralee Oakes

    VICTORIA – Coralee Oakes, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, has released the following statement in response to a recommendation received from the Audit Council for the Auditor General for Local Government:

    “Under the Auditor General for Local Government Act, I am required, as the minister responsible, to seek the Audit Council’s recommendation regarding the removal of the auditor general for local government. Pursuant to its mandate under the act, the Audit Council considered my request and subsequently issued a recommendation and resolution to remove the auditor general for local government.

    “The auditor general for local government’s obstruction of an intended review of her office has created an intolerable situation that compounds the unstable work environment and lack of performance from that office.

    “I believe removing the auditor general is necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the office.

    “Accordingly, I have therefore recommended to the Lieutenant Governor in Council that the auditor’s appointment be rescinded.

    “The Audit Council will be recommending a qualified person to be appointed as acting auditor general for local government, pursuant to the act, for government’s consideration.”


    Nanaimo Watermain Flushing Program March 23 - 27

    March 23 to March 27
    • Stephenson Pt./ Departure Bay area
    • Waddington Road/Boundary Avenue area
    • Quarterway/East Wellington area
    • Bowen Road/Meredith Road/Crescent View Drive/Northfield Road Area
    • Smuggler's Hill/Sherwood Drive/Nottingham area
    • Uplands Drive/Norwell Drive/Country Club Drive area


    Most Canadian Picture Of All Time?

    Huffpost BC published what has to be the most Canadian picture of all time. It was shared on the BC RCMP  Twitter page and was taken at a once-in-a-lifetime trip with his oldtimers' hockey team the Kaslo AfterBurners.

    RCMP Cpl Shaun Begg had the picture taken to maybe use on a Christmas card or personal screen saver and had no idea the kind of fanfare his picture has gotten.

    He and nine other members pooled their money for a helicopter excurison to Shamrock Lake which is at 9,000 feet on a glacial-fed lake in the Purcell Mountains. The team flew in and played a five hour game of shinny against another squad of 10 people from Western Canada. 


    Sunday, March 22, 2015

    Spring Blossoms In Downtown Nanaimo

    Blossoms Bustin' Out On Victoria Cres.


    Nanaimo Supportive Housing Project - 41 Units

    More supportive housing coming to Nanaimo

    Forty-one new units of supportive housing are currently under construction for men and women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Nanaimo.

    Once complete, the four-storey building on 1597 Boundary Crescent will be the fourth development to open under a partnership between the B.C. government and the City of Nanaimo. Residents will have access to several amenities including a common dining space and lounge, a kitchen, laundry facilities, bicycle storage and a bed-bug sauna.

    Designed to achieve LEED Silver certification, the development will incorporate numerous energy-efficient and sustainable measures into its design, such as Energy Star-rated appliances and windows, water-efficient landscaping, low-flow water fixtures and high-efficiency water heaters.

    The housing component of the development will be managed by Nanaimo Affordable Housing Society. Columbian Centre Society and Haven Society will provide programming and supports to residents.

    Project partners and funding include:

    The B.C. government will arrange construction financing of approximately $9.6 million and will be providing approximately $1.2 million annually in operating funding.
    The City of Nanaimo will contribute $300,000 in municipal reductions and the land valued at $432,000.


    Science World Comes To Woodgrove Centre


    Just in time for spring break! Science World On the Road arrives at Woodgrove Centre on March 23, 2015 for a series of live 30 minute science shows and activities over four days. Families are invited to watch the free shows at 11 am and 3 pm March 23-26 in centre court near the water clock. Their high energy shows will explore a wide range of topics using flying rubber chickens, hair raising electrical experiments, and maybe even a fireball.

    In between the science shows, children can take part in free science on the spot activities from noon to 2 pm. In addition to a KEVA plank building area, there will be an area where visitors of all ages can try some of the science demonstrations from the show including a Van de Graaff generator to make hair stand up, spinning platform, leaf blower and beach ball. Another station will demonstrate fun science activities that people can make at home with repurposed materials such as a ping pong ball launcher, paper planes, helicopters, and other flying toys made with recycled newspaper, magazines and telephone books. Marketing Director Nola Dunn commented, “The shows were very well attended last year and it is wonderful to welcome Science World back to Woodgrove for spring break. We have added many activities to the event this year to ensure that visitors have the opportunity to experience the educational science demonstrations first-hand.”

    Science World is thrilled to be bringing their spectacular, live science shows to Nanaimo for another year. “It is always rewarding to share our amazing live shows around the province. Having grown up in Nanaimo, I am particularly excited to bring these spectacular science activities back to my home town,” shared Bronwyn McNeil, one of the performers who will be appearing at Woodgrove Centre.
    Photo supplied


    Saturday, March 21, 2015

    Colliery Dams Park - A Flawed Process - Then & Now

    This is a long read, and has been written from memory, so some details may be absent, but I believe the timeline and chronicle of events to be accurate to my recollection. This process has been ongoing for over two years, and today's conclusion is no more trustworthy than the assertion about seismic risk in the first place. The seismic peril and potential loss of 150 lives came with all  the authority that a PEng signature brings. That report has proven to have been completely faulty. We are now asked to believe a second report carrying P.Eng. authority. However, the common problem hindering public acceptance of these conclusions is the complete lack of public scrutiny of the process that has yielded these results. "Trust us we are Engineers or we are the professional City Staff " just doesn't cut it any more.
    Jim Taylor

    Public Scrutiny Has Been Absent From Colliery Dams Process

    Back in the fall of 2012, city council were told (behind closed doors) of the perils and costs of dealing with the Colliery Dams. It was a no-brainer as the cost to remediate these ‘recreational dams’ was astronomical and councillors were warned of liability should the dams fail with resulting loss of life.

    This entire process was void of any public scrutiny or oversight. It is unknown to this day, what information was supplied to council or what liability warnings were issued at that stage, nor how many councillors supported the dam removals.

    At this point it is clear, that city staff were of the opinion the dams should be removed and the area ‘re-naturalized’, for whatever reason is unimportant. The point is that staff had made a decision and was prepared to support that opinion and gain council and public support the best way possible. Public safety is a hard motive to argue against and when combined with the massive $30 million cost of an alternate solution the first tactic used to gain public support for the removal option was put in play.

    The first foray into the public arena was at the old fire hall in Harewood, where city officials set up the usual storyboards with all the ‘pretty pictures’ as Loyd Sherry would say, in an oft repeated ‘public open house’ format wherein the city explains to the citizens what they are doing under the guise of seeking input.

    It turns out that the citizens in Harewood were not really buying into the whole story as presented and the realization that city hall was putting into motion a plan to destroy Colliery Dams Park was met with fierce opposition. A public meeting held in Barsby School saw several hundreds of angered residents present voicing their unbelief at what city hall was proposing. Out of this gathering was the genesis of the Colliery Dam Park Preservation Society who admittedly until this point paid little attention to what went on at city hall.

    It is likely at this point city hall staff and council were caught off-guard as to the organized response to their proposal. People with various backgrounds in construction were drawn to the issue, some attracted by the unbelievable costs the city were claiming associated with the dams and others incredulous at the safety claims being promoted by the city.

    The CDPPS group made a thoughtful, fact based presentation to city council, led by Engineer Mr. Lorne Gale who made it very clear to all, that there was much room for improvement in what the city was proposing. Rather than receiving this help and considering what he had to say, his credentials were belittled by a few councillors and a challenge to his facts was thrown out. Opposing councillors who challenged his figures, seemed unable to realize he was merely interpreting information contained in the engineers reports from the city, it was not new information of his own he was presenting.

    It was at this point that city council and city hall did what they do quite often and that is ‘circle the wagons’ and resist any notion that our city hall staff could be in error. That is simply something city hall seems unable to ever consider.

    It was at this point we were being told remediation could cost as much as $30 million, remember? What was being presented by people familiar with real construction costs was the fact that the problem could be dealt with for far less than what city hall was saying. At this point, there was no challenge to the real need to do anything as everyone seemed to be accepting the fact the old, crumbling dams could fail any minute and dealing with that as reality was where we started from.

    With the revelation (brought from Mr. Gale) that the cost for a fix could be much less than $30 million, city council put the brakes on, ‘kind of’, which resulted in a whole new review of the entire matter.

    At this point city staff engaged the engineering firm to provide more information to support the claim the dams presented grave peril to the public and could not be ignored for another 100 years. This is when the ‘facts’ about massive, catastrophic dam failure with the resulting loss of 150 lives was given the P.Eng. Stamp of approval by the professional’s city hall had hired to prove their opinion the dams had to be removed.

    When it was obvious they were going to be faced with public opposition, the city proceeded with the incredible step of spending $35,000+ on a pre-emptive court injunction against John and Jane Doe (anyone) to keep them from interfering with the destruction of the dams.  They were unsuccessful but demonstrated the length to which they would go to remove the dams.

    The actual timeline and details are a little fuzzy (I am doing this from memory) but at one point after the intervention of a facilitator and considerable more expense rather than proceeding with dam removal the idea they would remove the dams and then replace them was embraced by council. I believe this was Councillor Brennan’s idea of compromise. It would solve the immediate safety issue the dams proposed and satisfy the desire to retain the ponds in the park by rebuilding the dams the following year. Anyone paying attention could see this as likely just a ploy as the possibility of a permit being issued to rebuild was highly unlikely. In other words, once the dams were gone, they were gone. The impact the resulting siltation would have downstream was never adequately dealt with as several other environmental concerns which were raised.

    City hall was at the point of awarding the contract to remove the dams when then-Chief Douglas White appeared before council and pressed for a cooling off and sober second look at the entire issue. That is how close city hall came to achieving their goal of removing the dams, come hell or high water. Pun intended.

    After installing a large number of warning signs, warning siren and having uniformed officers go through the neighbourhood to make sure residents were sure of the possible danger, the Dam Safety Section agreed with what the city was now proposing.

    The ‘technical committee’ was then struck led by city staff and attended by representatives of SFN and the CDPPS. They selected Golder Associates as consultants on the project. By design there was no city council member on the committee, nor was there any public or media scrutiny of the process. Members of the committee also seem to have been governed by in-camera rules as details of the process were not open to the public. This is a similar MO of far too many city hall decisions and is the common denominator between the seismically-caused hazard and the now flood-caused hazard we are presented with.

    This committee undertook proper examination of the ‘facts’ of the dams Vis a Vis how they would respond to a seismic event. This determined the dams would not catastrophically fail in three minutes with the resulting loss of 150 lives as the previous engineers reports claimed. When facts, rather than assumption were applied to the condition of the dam, it was concluded the peril was simply a faulty opinion.

    Here we are again, after this latest $1,000,000+ exercise by a city staff led process, with the opinion being expressed something has to be done to mitigate the peril an overtopping event would cause in a significant flood.

    The problem with this latest conclusion is similar to the problem with the first conclusion in that it is made in the absence of properly investigated facts and based on much assumption.
    While we are being told the engineers have concluded a flood would cause the dams to overtop due to inadequate spillway capacity, it has never happened in over 100 years. I understand there is only 25 years of reliable data upon which the conclusion was made regards this overtopping event.

    While the engineers claim inadequate spillway capacity, they are not providing the complete methodology and data they used when arriving at that conclusion. There is credible challenge to this assertion and some feel the spillway capacity is grossly understated.
    Based on the assumption the spillway could not handle the flow of water in this assumed rain event, it is further assumed that the water overtopping the dam would cause all of the rock and fill on the downstream side of the dam to be washed away. It is further assumed that with this fill removed; the concrete core dam wall would fail, releasing the water currently sitting in these two settling ponds in Colliery Dams Park.

    There are a lot of conclusions based on a lot of assumptions which are not supported by any fact-based study as to whether this concrete core dam would actually fail even if all of the fill were to be washed away. This is just one more huge assumption coming with the authority of a P.Eng stamp affixed.

    The Common Denominator and Flaw in the Process

    As a resident of the city of Nanaimo, I have no reason to believe that the conclusion of this second city-led process is any more valid than the first. There was no council oversight, no media or public oversight and in the end has produced an opinion that in my opinion is still lacking proper investigation into how this dam will perform in an overtopping event. The conclusion it will fail, seems based on the same assumptions that led the previous engineers to assume a catastrophic, three minute failure with the loss of 150 lives.

    The pubic who is being asked to support an $8 million (estimate) expenditure to remediate this assumed risk have no reason to believe this conclusion is anymore valid than the first P.Eng supported claim.

    If this city council were to direct an open and transparent sober second look at this process, which must include study to support the hypothesis that this dam will actually fail, it might come as no surprise that this second conclusion is simply as faulty as the first, and that we may in fact have to do very little, if anything at all.

    This cannot be another ‘behind closed doors’ exercise led by city staff who have been driving this process from the beginning.