Monday, August 31, 2015

Colliery Dam Contractor - Not Decided

 Colliery Dams Protesters demonstrate outside convention centre
Gallery waiting for council meeting to reconvene

Council Meeting Adjourned  
Dams Decision Not Made

True to form the latest episode in the Colliery Dams Debacle added yet another page in the never-ending story that should never have been written.

On the agenda for the Aug. 31 Council meeting was the staff recommendation to award the construction of the auxiliary spillway to Copcan Contracting Ltd, which was the highest rated Tenderer for the project.

Mr. Terry Wagar, a Colliery Dam Park supporter organized a grassroots movement in an attempt to let city council know there is still strong opposition to the decisions being made to do with Colliery Dams Park.

City Council was scheduled to deal with the Colliery Dams tender starting at 6:00 pm having concluded other city business which started at 3:00 pm. 

Rather than simply attempt to conduct the meeting and get on with the staff recommendation, Mayor McKay chose to assert his authority as Chair to have members of the audience put their signs on the floor before he would proceed with the meeting. 

His ruling from the Chair was appealed by Councillor Fuller, who under Sec. 132 of the Community Charter was exercising his right to appeal a ruling from the Chair. Mayor McKay refused to acknowledge Fuller's appeal citing Sec. 133 of the Charter and refusing to discuss Fullers appeal.

Clearly not able to control the crowd or the meeting the Mayor 'adjourned the meeting until the gallery is cleared' and then vacated the Chair. He did not however, instruct RCMP officers present to clear the gallery which led to considerable confusion in the gallery as to what would happen next. At this point Councillors Fuller, Kipp, Bestwick and Hong left the Council Chambers which meant there was no longer a quorum of council, effectively ending the meeting.

Where this goes from here is anyone's guess but events of this evening raise several important questions which need to be addressed. The most concerning one to me, is the Mayor's claim of legal counsel giving him carte blanche to expel anyone from a meeting he deems to be acting improperly, and the basis for that ruling not being subject to an appeal from a member of council. That, in my opinion, is a dangerous position to take as it gives all power to the chair which cannot be appealed. That flies in the face of the spirit of Sec. 132 of the Charter.

If Council can not successfully appeal a ruling from the Chair because the Mayor 'says that is the opinion of my legal counsel', then I sincerely hope members of the community will mount a challenge to this assertion and appeal this matter to a court.

Sign outside Aug. 31 Nanaimo City Council meeting at VICC



  1. An excellent job of reporting on this issue ... I can't speak to the safety of the Colliery Dams but I do believe that the City of Nanaimo should make every effort to preserve this gem. Not very impressed with the Mayor's handling of this meeting or the issue..

  2. I have spoken with the Director, Advisory Services, Governance and Structure Branch, BC Government (which governs how municipalities operate) and she said; "My interpretation is...the intent of the law...a councillor can appeal the chair invoking section 133 (BC Community Charter, chair's power to evict) using section 132 (2)”.

    133 is not intended to be used separately.



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