Thursday, November 12, 2015

Nanaimo Core Review - Pointless??

Will it produce meaningful results
or just more smoke and mirrors with another study for the closet?

Nearly a year after being elected a core review is just another election 'promise' that while not abandoned like some, has been moving along at glacial speed. When it is finally produced and a few hundred thousand tax dollars have been burned, what meaningful results can it possibly produce? Since taking office this council has taken several steps and passed several motions that could make any core review recommendations moot.

Wages & Benefits

The single biggest cost centre at City Hall, consuming over 80% of every tax dollar collected was locked in for three years agreeing to a generous 6% wage increase, which will apply to CUPE employees as well as exempt staff (with the exception of IAFF members). This single decision alone pretty much guarantees a tax increase of at least 1% every year just to cover the increased cost of wages. You could argue that the city needs to take a cue from other agencies and hold the line on some of these very generous wage increases, which don't reflect the reality of the times. Realizing of course that CUPE has the city over the proverbial barrel with little appetite on the part of council to try and rein in out of control wages and union-friendly clauses which pretty much renders council hamstrung.

Four Man Fire Engines

In April 2013, then-Chief Ron Lambert presented Council with a report based on a study done of how fire protection services are delivered in Nanaimo. One of the findings of that report was the possibility that fire protection could be delivered just as efficiently if the city employ two-man rapid response units at some of the fire stations in the city. That report was met with fierce resistance from the IAFF and several members of Council, to the point, it has not seen the light of day since being presented in open council.

Recently this Council passed a motion which would see fire engines in the City manned by four man crews. This position pretty much gets out in front of any new recommendations a core service review might suggest or any new plans being considered by the Fire Chief to deliver effective protection services.

We all recognize the vital importance our fire fighters provide, however, that does not mean the same level of service can not be delivered in a more cost efficient manner.

Automated Garbage Collection

After coming to city council last June or July and being told to order two automation-ready garbage trucks, Ms.Davis took two or three more runs at council in an attempt to get approval for what could be a very costly, and unproven experiment to handle our garbage collection. For reasons only understood by this Council they have agreed to implement automated pick-up to approximately one third of Nanaimo households. Why? 

As usual, when city hall wants to set fire to a few million tax dollars and don't want to take too much heat, they haul out those two old chestnuts - worker safety, and a senior level of government is ordering us to do it. This is almost reminiscent of the "I was just following orders' excuse used to support doing something.

Worker safety --- really?? There are no stats available to compare garbage truck worker injuries prior to the implementation of the green bin program, which was another of those cutting-edge, made-in-Nanaimo programs that should never have gotten off the drawing board. Before the green bins, worker safety was not an issue, but now is because the brain trust that thought up this program didn't figure doubling the number of 'picks' on a drivers route would have any impact. At the end of the day, the number of repetitive injury claims is less than 3% of all claims meaning perhaps the stats are being skewed to support automation.

Why in the world would we lock ourselves into a multi-million dollar purchase before doing a core review, which might very well conclude contracting out our garbage collection is the way to go. Of course that would put in jeopardy the kingdom of sanitation staffed by union members, which brings us again to the way in which past council's have allowed the unions to put Nanaimo taxpayers over the barrel.


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