Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Spillway Substantial Completion - April 15/16

Photo credit City of Nanaimo
Construction costs estimated $2.8 - $4.6 million
Design and construction costs to date $854,000
Substantial completion date expected - April 15/16

Work completed on the auxiliary spillway construction project to date:
  • Copcan is mobilized on site with an all weather haul road and temporary bridge across Harewood Creek in place
  • Erosion and sediment controls are in place along the reservoir edge and Harewood Creek
  • The site for the spillway structure and channel is cleared.
  • Top soil was stockpiled for reuse after completion of the project.
  • The Stage 1 excavation is complete and the remaining excavation is underway.
  • The secant pile cut-off wall is complete.
  • Structure formwork is being prefabricated.
  • The girders and rebar has been ordered.

Work remaining to be complete:
  • Final excavation for the structure.
  • Form erection, rebar, pouring and construction of the structure.
  • Backfill of the structure.
  • Channel excavation and rock lining.
  • Removal of a portion of the secant wall fronting the spillway.
  • Removal of the soil plug between the spillway and reservoir.
  • Site cleanup, restoration and landscaping. 

Construction costs are still projected to be between $2.8 to $4.6 million and these estimates will be refined as the project proceeds. Based on the completed design plans the project team has revised the construction timeline and the City has asked the Province to extend the substantial completion date to April 15, 2016. The Province still needs to approve the extension. 


Cuteness Gets A Pass

Remember the movie Ratatouille??

One of the downsides of maintaining bird feeders, is the way they can attract rodents who are drawn by the seed that usually ends up on the ground. To minimize that problem, we only used hulled sunflower seeds in our feeders which means almost nothing gets thrown on the ground.

While watching the Pine Siskin activity the other day out of my window I was surprised to see two little eyes and a pink nose poke out of the ivy on the railing. Then, there were two sets of eyes and pink noses. Rodents don't usually get a positive response from yours truly, but both of these guys or gals, had to be given a cuteness pass as they made a bee line for the feeder, grabbing one seed at a time and scurrying back to the safety of the ivy to eat it.

These two kept this up for quite a few minutes and I must admit, as much as I am not a fan of rodents of the rat variety I simply had to smile. 

Now, where is the neighbours cat, when you need him?


New CEO Hired At NEDC

The Daily News is reporting that a new CEO has been selected for the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation. Since it's formation in 2011, this will be the third person to take the helm of the local arms-length corporation funded by city taxpayers. The corporation receives $1.4 million annually from the city.
Photo :

John Hankins of Calgary will be coming to NEDC on Jan.4/16. He was the VP of a non profit organization, Calgary Economic Development in Calgary from 2007 - 2012. He also has his own consulting company specializing in economic and business development.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

BC Restaurants Don't Need Liquor Lounge Area

Say goodbye to lounge restrictions in B.C. restaurants

VICTORIA – As part of the ongoing effort to cut red tape for small businesses in British Columbia, restaurants no longer have to provide a separate lounge area for customers who want to enjoy a cocktail.

This latest change builds on a complementary Liquor Policy Review update that happened last year, allowing customers to order a drink at a restaurant without feeling pressured to order food. In the past, restaurants wanting to offer their customers a drink without having to serve them a meal had to have an isolated lounge area.

Creating flexibility for restaurants will help to remove the unnecessary burden for businesses in B.C., while understanding that restaurants will still need to ensure that their primary purpose is the service of food.

Music and comedy performances now will come easier, too, thanks to new relaxed entertainment rules. Restaurants are no longer required to apply for a permit to host entertainment, such as a guitar player or comedian, as long as patrons are not participating in the show.


Nanaimo User Rates Increase In 2016

Distributed November 24, 2015

Council sets new 2016 user rates for 

water, sewer and garbage collection

During its meeting held November 23, 2015, Council set new water, sewer and garbage collection rates to support long-term asset management requirements as outlined in the City's 2015-2019 Financial Plan. Adopted by Council on May 4, 2015, the City's Financial Plan proposed annual increases to the water and sewer user rates on January 1st of each year. Revenues collected through theses increases assist the City in paying for costs incurred during the long-term replacement of fixed assets, including water supply and distribution assets and sanitary sewer assets.

An increase of 7.5 percent will be applied to water rates in 2016. This will be an increase of $31.00 per single family home (based on an average consumption of 200 gallons/day). The annual cost of water for a single family home will become $444.36.

Sewer rates will increase by 5 percent (equivalent to $5.61 per single family home) in 2016. This will bring the annual cost for a single family home sewer fees to $117.89.

Solid waste collection rates will increase by 1 percent (equivalent to $1.00 per single family home) for residential and non-residential units in 2016. The annual cost to a single family home will be $100.75 for solid waste collections fees.

"Asset management is one of the six priorities identified in the 2012-2015 Strategic Plan. Increased user fees are part of a long-term strategy to ensure there are adequate funds available to renew water and sewer infrastructure when it eventually reaches the end of its life cycle."  -  Diane Hiscock City of Nanaimo
The overall impact of these user rate increases amounts to $37.61 for a typical single family home, an increase of 6% over 2015. These new rates will come into effect January 1, 2016.


Nanaimo Santa Claus Parade - 2015


eTown Hall Meeting - Worthwhile Budget Exercise?

Poorly Attended - Little 'Budget' Discussion

The third eTown Hall meeting with the budget as the topic of discussion brought a pretty underwhelming response from Nanaimo citizens. The event was poorly attended with many vacant seats at Shaw Auditorium and little participation. Few of the questions dealt with anything specific about the 2016 budget with the exception of one audience member who simply said he has lived here for 40 years and never seen his taxes go down, and is getting weary of never-ending increases.

In spite of the Mayor advising people with questions to not expect responses from all Council members as that would be too time consuming, questions to do with bike paths and dog parks did elicit responses from most of council who seemed to take the opportunity to politic. 

The lacklustre participation could have a variety of contributing factors such as being poorly promoted, it is noted that the Facebook page for the event indicated that while 611 people had been invited only 24 are listed as 'went'. Rather than poor promotion, the attendance could also be the result of taxpayers recognizing their participation will have no impact on the actual budget process.

It did demonstrate that this forum, could be useful in the area of community engagement and getting some worthwhile communication established between the elected and the electorate. I seem to remember last year councillors saying that these type of meetings should be something the city did on at least a quarterly basis in the interest of keeping in touch with Nanaimo taxpayers.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Nanaimo Council Highlights Nov. 23/15

Nov. 23 COW/eTownHall/Special Open Council Meeting Highlights

Council debated for 10 minutes to decide whether to accept a late delegation.

Corporate sponsorship as a means to generate revenues other than taxes and user fees. Presentation made by Mr. Brent Barootes.

Harewood Centennial Youth Park delegation seeking support for youth park development including a skateboard park. Council supported funding for the project.

Mayor McKay welcomed Ms Samra as the interim City Manager. He also read a statement with regards to Syrian refugees.

eTown Hall Meeting - 2016 Budget Discussion

At 6:00 pm Council began the eTown Hall portion of the meeting. Mr. Philip Cooper, city communications manager was the lead for the city for this eTown Hall Meeting. Questions from the public were received in person, and online or via telephone.

Audience attendance was minimal as the event was not heavily promoted in the local media.

Few questions actually discussed the current budget and what should be added or deleted, but rather was a general town hall meeting dealing with issues such as bike lanes, dog parks, social housing and the like.

These could be good exercises for general communication between the community and council, as a forum for meaningful budget discussions, it misses the mark.

Special Open City Council meeting 7:30 pm

After the eTown hall portion of the meeting, council recessed for 3 minutes to accommodate SHAW with some technical issues. They then convened the Special City Council Meeting to deal with business left over from the previous council meeting. Some of the issues were related to bylaws that were going to the public over the next few days and needed dealing with urgently.

Automated garbage pick up will be rolled out in the fall of 2016 to 1/3 of the city residences. After much debate council finally left it to staff to determine which of 3 potential areas would be the first to have the automated pick up.

COW Meeting reconvened 8:20 pm

Councillor Kipp moved to have a staff report regards injury rates etc. among city staff.

Mr. Les Barclay gave a presentation about communication, community engagement and the community committee system. His presentation was met by an aggressive, defensive response from the Mayor.

Mr. O'Donnell addressed council as a late delegate on the subject of medical cannabis dispensaries.

Video of the the meeting can be seen on the City website HERE.


Star Wars Event - Nanaimo Aquatic Centre


Taking Care Of Nanaimo Tax Dollars?

 Courtenay spends $100,000


Women, Children & Families Only Refugees Allowed

According to this Huffpost report the CBC has learned that only women, children and families will be a part of the Syrian refugee program, noting that unaccompanied men will not be considered for the program.


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Possible Snowflurries Tuesday In Nanaimo

Special Weather Statement

Issued at 11:36 Sunday 22 November 2015
Arctic air and possible difficult travel conditions by early Tuesday. The first Arctic outbreak of the season will bring cold and breezy conditions and potentially difficult travel to the South Coast of British Columbia late Monday night and early Tuesday. The Arctic air will arrive from the east, spilling out the coastal inlets and valleys first, spreading west toward Vancouver Island on Tuesday. As the leading edge of the coldest air of the season arrives, bursts of snowflurries may rapidly reduce visibility. Local snowfalls of a few centimetres are possible as the Arctic air arrives. Windchill equivalent temperatures between -5 and -10c are likely in areas exposed to outflow winds for Tuesday night. Near Whistler, snow is expected to begin tonight. The village will likely receive at least 15 cm of snow by Monday afternoon before the Arctic air arrives. Snowfall warnings may be required... After the Arctic arrival, the South Coast will settle into an extended period (4-6 days) of chilly but otherwise weather-less winter days.


Departure Bay Seawall Walkway Reconstruction

Reconstruction of seawall walkway & parking

Knappett Industries is the contractor doing the work of removing and reconstructing the seawall walkway and parking facilities at Departure Bay. The completed project will see a walkway with less of a grade, new street lights and new lights along the walkway.

The storm drains on Loat St. and Departure Bay Rd. will also be replaced at the same time. Millennia Research Ltd. and Snuneymuxw First Nation will be monitoring the work for any archaeological finds discovered during the construction process.

The estimated cost of the project is $820,000 and is expected to be complete by Mar. 1/16.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Special Open Council Meeting - Nov. 23/15

Special Open Council Meeting
Monday Nov. 23/15
Shaw Auditorium 7:30PM

Council will be working overtime on Monday with the posting of the agenda for the Special Open Council Meeting to follow the eTown Hall meeting which follows the COW meeting scheduled to start at 4:30 pm.

The agenda for the Special Open Council Meeting can be seen HERE. Basically, it appears to be the business that was not concluded at the last city council meeting which adjourned when council did not decide to go beyond 11:00 pm.


Lions FREE Skate - Sunday Nov. 22/15

The Lions Club of Nanaimo will once again be hosting Free Everyone Welcome skate sessions from 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm on Sundays from Sept.13/15 until March 27, 2016 at Frank Crane Arena. On Nanaimo Clippers Junior 'A' game days, the Lions Free Skate will run from 10:45 am to 12:30 pm. This valued project continues the long tradition of the Nanaimo volunteer service to the community of Nanaimo.

The Lions Free Everyone Welcome skate sessions include admission, helmets and skate rentals.

There will not be a Lions Free Everyone Welcome skate session on December 27 due to the Winter Wonderland event.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Nanaimo Weather Outlook Nov. 21 - 25

Perfect weather for this time of year. Still no 'white stuff' in the forecast, as usual when it is cold enough to snow, it is also clear enough resulting in no precipitation.

The weekend looks like a great time to get out and enjoy some of the Island's spectacular great outdoors!


Nanaimo Boil Water Advisory Cancelled

Distributed November 20, 2015

Boil Water Advisory Cancelled for City of Nanaimo
Turbidity levels have returned to normal

The Water Quality Advisory that was issued Tuesday November 17 is now CANCELLED.  The City placed the advisory to inform residents that they may observe cloudiness in their tap water  and as a precautionary measure.  There was no contamination of the water supply, simply increased levels of sediment in the water. 

Once the new water treatment plant is operational - anticipated to be in the coming weeks - the City's water supply will be filtered to a very high degree.


Courtenay Spends $100,000 On Flood Mitigation

$100,000 For 400 metres of flood control

Courtenay Mayor and CAO were present for the testing of a new flood control system intended to mitigate flooding risks to local area residents and businesses.

The system is a heavy bladder which can be filled rapidly with water to create a barrier against flood water more quickly and effectively than sandbagging.

The system in Courtenay is 400 metres long and 1 metre high and can be filled either from a lake or river or hydrants. The system comes with pumps for rapid deployment and the entire package has cost the city $100,000.

 CHEK News Aqua Dam
To view the CHEK News video clip, click the above image.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Some Serious Questions Raised

The above post appeared on Facebook apparently authored by local businessman Don Bonner in which he claims to have knowledge about the process which led to the hiring of our interim city manager.

A serious question arises from the claim made in the post:

Who on this city council gave this confidential information to Mr. Bonner, as the whole process was conducted in-camera and rules of conduct on the part of one or more Councillors is called into question?

If the source of the information given to Mr. Bonner can't be confirmed, it could be speculated that one or more councillors are not happy with the decision and are attempting to smear Ms Samra. 


With all of the mistrust and behind closed door secrecy Nanaimo City Hall has become infamous for, this issue needs dealing with in an very open and transparent investigation. 

We need to know, who on this Council is giving in-camera information, correct or otherwise to members of the public before Council has agreed to make the minutes public.


COW Meeting - November 23/15

Committee of the Whole Meeting
Mon., Nov. 23/15
Shaw Auditorium
4:30 pm VICC

eTown Hall To Discuss 2016 Budget 6:00 pm

  • City of Nanaimo Sponsorship Program, information concerning municipal government sponsorship programs and the associated steps to create a corporate sponsorship program
  • Harewood Centennial Youth Park
  • Community Heritage Register Update
  • RFP pertaining to Public Works after Hours Support, Dispatch and Security Services

 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.


On Feb. 2/15  a resolution of Council was passed with a 7:1 vote which was giving staff instructions with regards the Colliery Dams. This motion was ignored by City staff and this Council has shown no desire to see their wishes were carried out by City staff. As a precedent this is likely as disturbing as any fiscal decisions made by council. It goes to the heart of our whole democratic system.

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 Nutcraker - Nanaimo Nov. 27 & 28

Kirkwood Academy presents THE NUTCRACKER
Friday, November 27th 7:00pm
Saturday, November 28th 2:00pm & 7:00pm