Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Nanaimo Theatre Group Season Opener

A Swash-buckling start 
to the Nanaimo Theatre Group’s Season

The year is 1625 and 18 year old D’Artagnan de Beaugency is leaving home, his head filled with thoughts of honour and glory, with hopes of becoming a musketeer. Based on the classic novel by Alexandre Dumas and adapted for the stage by Tony and Olivier award winning playwright Ken Ludwig, The Three Musketeers is the Nanaimo Theatre Group’s season opener. Ludwig describes the 750 page novel as “like reading the best and longest comic book in the world” and his adaptation for the theatre has retained this sense of playful good fun. Although the script is fast paced and very funny the underlying themes of the play couldn’t be more serious - life, death, love, hatred, honour and betrayal.

Needless to say the play is significantly shorter than the novel but Ludwig has managed to capture the essence of the story and the spirit of the writing. All of the well-known characters such as D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos, Aramis, Milady and Cardinal Richelieu play a central role in the stage production but Ludwig also added a new character, D’Artagnan’s sister Sabine.

One of the main challenges of mounting a production of this nature is the vast amount of physical theatre demanded by the script. Besides the obvious need sword play there is kicking, biting, stabbing, punching and all other manners of stage combat. The actors and directors have been working diligently with fight coordinator Chris Buechler since early July to bring all of this action to life.

The Nanaimo production is co-directed by Shannon Reimer and David Bigelow, produced by Sheila Coultish and stars James Dean, Scott Britney, Jimmy Kwas, Daniel Kingshott, Sheridan Collyer-Valens, Derek Carter and Sarah Thomson. Audience members can expect a lively and entertaining production that will make them laugh out loud and possibly shed a tear. While adults can fully expect to enjoy this show, it also offers a great opportunity to introduce teenagers to the magic of theatre.

For more information and to order tickets check out the new website or call 250-758-7224.  The play opens Oct. 15 at the Bailey Studio, 2373 Rosstown Road, and runs Wednesdays to Sundays until Oct. 31 with the most affordable prices in town, $18 Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, $20 Friday and Saturday.


Nanaimo Anti-littering Campaign Kicks Off

Aimed at eliminating litter and improving cleanliness

"We hope that the Keep Nanaimo Clean campaign will put the message out that littering is unacceptable.  Some of the campaign images are quite hard hitting; we're glad they promote a response within people and hope to get residents talking and thinking about litter. We are lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful places in Canada and we want to keep it that way."  -  Charlotte Davis City of Nanaimo 

Starting this week, posters carrying the Keep Nanaimo Clean message will be seen in bus shelters and on the side of City refuse collection vehicles.  Later in the month the campaign will spread to the air waves with advertisements coming to local radio stations.

Littering is an issue in Nanaimo and whilst, by comparison to other cities, Nanaimo is comparably clean, there are areas that need improvement. The City currently sweeps the downtown sidewalks between three and four times a week in a bid to keep the streets tidy. This is despite the fact that in downtown areas you are  rarely more than 50 metres from a litter bin.

The most common litter to be found on around Nanaimo includes cigarette butts, drink containers and fast food packaging. The act of littering can result in the offender having to pay a $100 fine for the offence.


Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Nanaimo House and Real Estate Prices Sept. 2015

Nanaimo House Prices 2014

  Nanaimo Real Estate Home Sales

Nanaimo House Prices September 2015

Prices Increase 4% - Sales Decrease 7%

The following information is taken from the MLS sales data from the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board. The information is based on single-family residential unit sales.

The month of September 2015 saw 109 homes sold, compared with 128 homes the previous month, and compared with 117 homes sold in 
September 2014. This represents a 7% decrease when compared with last year.

The average sale price increased in 
September 2015 to $391,803.00 compared with $378,185.00 in September 2014 an increase of 4%. The median Nanaimo house price for September 2015 was $369,000.00.

VIREB cautions that average price information can be useful in establishing trends over time, but does not indicate the actual prices in centers comprised of widely divergent neighbourhoods or account for price differential between geographic areas.

The September 2015 benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area was $276,100, an increase of 1.41 per cent from last year. In the Comox Valley, the benchmark price was $340,600, up 6.23 per cent from 2014. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $303,300, an increase of 7.85 per cent over the same month in 2014. Nanaimo’s benchmark price rose 5.75 per cent to $358,100 while the Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price rise by 4.21 per cent to $377,200. The price for a benchmark home in Port Alberni was $190,600, an increase of 1.81 per cent since September 2014. 


Council Approves 4 Man Fire Engines

Another Decision Made Before Core Review Done

Council went into overtime, extending the meeting until after 12:00 with the final issue being a reconsideration request made by Councillor Bestwick.

The motion to be reconsidered  was that Council postpone consideration of the motion to direct staff to implement a policy requiring that all Fire Rescue Department engines be staffed with a minimum of four personnel until such time as Council has been provided with complete information on future plans with respect to Fire services including integrated risk management.

After what appeared as what can best be described as confused debate about not changing staffing until after a core review council defeated this motion. That defeat led to a motion from Councillor Bestwick which has now set a policy of four man staffing of Fire Rescue Department engines in place. Mayor McKay was the only member of council opposed to this change.

McKay commented that there was a new report about integrated risk management which he said most of council had not seen that would indicate this decision could make the difference between staffing 9 firehalls with 100 firefighters which would now require 180 firefighters.

Mayor McKay has since corrected himself (via a post on Facebook) in which he now says that the 9 firehalls would be manned with 160 firefighters and not the stated 100.

This seems another reason why this city council should save taxpayers the estimated $200,000 for the core review, as they continue to make these major spending decisions before the review has even been done, even though they said there would be no changes until after the review.

It also raises the question as to why, if such an important document existed, that most on Council had not seen it before being asked to make this decision??


Sunday, October 04, 2015

Interesting Spot Not Far From Nanaimo

I've lived in Nanaimo since 1970 and this past week was the first time I visited this interesting little spot. If anyone knows the history of the 'Hole in the Wall' which obviously had to do with directing water through two wooden pipes I would love to hear about it.


Saturday, October 03, 2015

Garbage Collector Injury Rate In Nanaimo

Collecting Garbage Is Not A New Service
How come worker injury is now such a big deal?

I am not entirely sure my memory is totally accurate but I remember a time when Nanaimo residents could put out two large garbage bags or two garbage cans for weekly pick up. In those days kitchen scraps and 'compostables' were not separated but were put out with the regular trash.

Clearly, lifting the bag containing all the garbage would have presented a heavier lift than the current system presents. Presently, the same amount of garbage that used to occupy one garbage bag is now split up into two different containers. It would seem that each 'lift' would be lighter than lifting the same quantity in one bag.

Then came a time we could only put out one bag or one garbage can for regular pick up. If we wanted to put out more we had to pay $2/bag or can. Compostables were still combined with other garbage and put at the curb in one bag. The driver had one bag per stop to pick up and toss into the truck or one garbage can to empty, but everything was in the one container.

A few years back we got onto the green bin for compostables which also included the types of food scraps I would never have put into my own compost pile. This gave rise to the questionable program of diverting that type of waste from the landfill and sending it to the experimental composting plant run by ICC. That is topic for a complete other article at a later date, but a case can be made for that program being a costly failure which has created as many problems as it ever solved.

With this new system the driver would have to pick up (every other week) one garbage can or bag of regular trash. Every week they would have to pick up and empty the green bin containing kitchen scraps etc. So, one week the driver had to pick up two things (green bin & one bag) and every other week only had the green bin to deal with. So instead of picking up or emptying one garbage container they now had two things to deal with. Arguably they are not handling any more weight and in fact are dealing with half as much weight as they were years ago per lift.

So why has this new system spawned all these work place injury claims now and was never an issue before, when arguably the drivers are not dealing with any more weight? Is this a matter of not being trained properly on how to deal with the green bins? Is it a case that when they doubled the number of 'picks' (one green bin and one garbage bag) they didn't consider the impact that doubling the 'picks' would have on the collector? Are some workers simply coming to an age where they can no longer perform the same physical duties as they once did? Could it be that 'garbage men' of old were simply stronger and better suited to the job that sanitation engineers are today? (:^)

On the matter of repetitive strain injury if the intent is as I have heard to be able to collect from 900 homes in a day, does that mean the collector will now have to make 1800 repetitive motions with a joystick? How many clerks do you see wearing wrist supports?

Finally, would this whole problem simply go away if we returned to putting all refuse in one easy to fling bag and forget this failed green bin program?? These injuries never seemed an issue until we got into the green bin split packer, made-in-Nanaimo experiment.

One Sure Fire Solution To End Garbage Collector Injury

Why have none of our councillors asked staff to find out what the cost would be to simply contract-out the entire waste/recycle/compost business and remove all future liability from the city?


Violent Sex Assault Suspect Sketches Released

Nanaimo RCMP are hoping these sketches will lead to information about the May 6 violent sexual assault of a 37 year old woman by two men in Harewood between Ninth and the Parkway.

One suspect is described as Aboriginal, heavier build, taller than 5'7" with a circular tatoo on the back of his calf.

The other suspect is described as a white male mid to late 30's with shoulder length hair between 5'5' and 5'7" tall.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the RCMP Nanaimo detachment.


Cruise Ships Are A Boon To Island Economy

229 Ships Visit Ogden Point Victoria
500,000 + Visitors Injecting $30 million+

A recent short visit to our capital city to the south was a bit of an eye opener when it comes to the impact the cruise ship business has on their economy. In a matter of 3 short days we saw six large cruise ships tied up at Ogden Point.

This traffic provided a steady stream of visitors on tour buses, pedi-cabs and of course the iconic horse drawn buggies delivering a serious cash injection to local businesses.

Can Nanaimo Compete With Victoria?

Given that we are actually bigger than Victoria by population we might like to think we can entice some of those 229 ships to stop in Nanaimo instead of Victoria. Well, that is simply not dealing with reality on any level and we are deluding ourselves to think otherwise. Spending a day taking in the sights of Victoria is miles and miles ahead of anything Nanaimo has to offer. Our waterfront is nice, theirs is spectacular and it goes on forever. Our inner harbour is quaint. Enough said. We do have parks and trails, but have you seen Beacon Hill Park?

I am not bashing Nanaimo, merely making the point the idea that we will ever become a destination for cruise ships to stop is simply silly thinking. We could turn Newcastle Island into something great, but we still can't compete with the complete package Victoria has to offer. We might be able to run bus excursions from Victoria but will need much more to become a destination.

A Few Comparisons

On Sept. 26, 28 and 29th Ogden Point saw 6 large cruise ships tied up with a total passenger count of 12,404. On two days in July and one day in September Nanaimo cruise ship terminal saw 2 large and 1 small cruise ship tie up bringing a maximum of 5402 visitors to Nanaimo. The number for Victoria was actual passenger count whereas the Nanaimo number is maximum number of passengers possible.

From April through September a total of 229 cruise ships were scheduled to visit Victoria with an estimated 513,000 tourists injecting $30 million plus into the local economy which is reported to support 800 jobs.

Another consideration with regard the value of cruise ships to the local economy is determined by 'when' on the cruise a ship stops to visit. For example the last cruise ship to come to Nanaimo was on the last day of it's cruise with their passenger getting off the ship the next day in Vancouver. It is reasonable to assume that most of those passengers had already purchased mementos and gifts for friends and family by the time they get to Nanaimo, so the number of dollars they are apt to spend may not be significant.

Next Year Six Ships Coming To Nanaimo

It seems Nanaimo is getting noticed in the world of cruise ships with the announcement by the Port Authority that six vessels are scheduled to come to Nanaimo next year. We still have some distance to go to return to the total of thirteen ships which stopped here before the terminal was built and passengers were tendered into the harbour from their anchored ship.

There is no downside to hosting visitors on cruise ships regardless of how much money they inject into the local economy. That said, Nanaimo has to step up it's game if we ever hope to maximize the potential this industry could have on our economy.

If we are going to encourage cruise lines to stop in Nanaimo we likely have to offer them something they can't get in Victoria. Making Nanaimo a destination in addition to Victoria and not instead of Victoria could bear fruit, trying to compete with Victoria is a recipe for failure.


Friday, October 02, 2015

Market Value of Colliery Dam Timber?

Some trees cut at Colliery Dams Park

To make way for the auxiliary spillway at Colliery Dams a wide swath of trees had to be felled. The above picture was taken on Sept. 19/15 and only shows one woodpile.

I have no idea how many board feet of timber would come out of these trees but have spoken with some who suggest it could easily be $100,000 worth and perhaps considerably more.

I have asked the city manager for the volume of timber and what it's market value is, and as yet have not had a reply.  From comments made at the last COW meeting it sounds as if the city manager took it upon himself to give this timber to SFN for firewood and ceremonial use. He said he had no direction from council and said it was a no-brainer to give it to SFN.

I will be interested to know by what authority the city manager can dispose of city assets without the approval of council.

Added Oct.4/15

Mayor McKay has taken exception to my reference to the value of the trees. He has challenged the validity of my statement that someone (not unfamiliar with the business) thought the timber might be worth $100,000. Of course it has been impossible for an independent scaler to evaluate this timber as access to the area has been restricted and it appears the timber is all being processed on site. 

In my opinion, it is not the value of the timber that is the issue, it is the fact the city manager, seemingly with the blessing of the Mayor took it upon himself to dispose of this asset without the consent of council. That question itself should require some serious legal scrutiny as there are far reaching implications if the city manager can dispose of a city asset without the consent of council.  

Here are a couple of other pictures which show more than the one pile. These pictures were taken on Sept. 19 and I was not back after that, so I do not know if any more trees were actually cut down.

 There are felled trees on both the right and left extreme of this picture


Tender Call For Wellcox Trestle Repairs & Upgrades

$90,000.00 probable costs extends design life to 2018

An engineering report from Herod Engineering reports their opinion of probable construction costs to complete the recommended repairs will be in the order of $90,000.00.

The firm was hired by the City to complete an assessment of the Port Way Trestle which resulted in repair recommendations which are intended to increase the design life of the trestle to 2018.

Recommended repairs include tightening of loose bolts, installing channel cladding on pile caps, installing new columns and repair mudsills in some piers.

The City issued a request for tender on Sept. 22/15 which will be open until Oct. 7/15 at 3:00 pm at which time the tenders will immediately be opened in Public in the Purchasing Department at 2020 Labieux Rd. Nanaimo.


Orchid Society Show & Sale - Nanaimo Oct. 2-4/15


Thursday, October 01, 2015

More Fantastic Nanaimo Weather Coming


Bite of Nanaimo - Tickets Now On Sale


VIU Open House - Friday Oct. 2/15

Friday, October 2, 2015 · 10 am to 3 pm

If you’ve never taken the time to visit your home-town university on the green slopes overlooking Nanaimo’s Harbour, mark your calendar!

The entire community is invited to a Campus-wide Open House at Vancouver Island University (VIU), sponsored by Coast Capital Savings, on Friday, October 2, 10 to 3 pm at the Nanaimo campus.
  • Why? We want you to learn about all the amazing things VIU has to offer – not just for students, but for everyone in the community.
  • Where? Every corner of the campus has something to explore, so check out the schedule, and make sure to take a guided campus tour!
  • Who? VIU’s Open House is for everyone! Come on by if you’re young or old, retired or in high school, with kids in tow, or on your way home from work. You’ll get a warm welcome from faculty members, students and staff, who will help you discover VIU and answer your questions.
To view a list of all Open House scheduled activities visit the VIU website HERE.

Complimentary Parking · Prizes · Refreshments


NCDC Live TELETHON - Sun. Oct. 4/15

Nanaimo Child Development Centre TELETHON

The 3rd annual Nanaimo Child Development Centre Telethon will air live from the Port Theatre on Shaw TV on Sunday, October 4th between 12 noon and 8PM, in a community partnership between the NCDC, The Port Theatre and Shaw TV. Free Admission.
Call in phone number day of event (250) 591-KIDS (5837)


Will We Ever 'Hear that train a comin'?

Is there any truth to the rumor the the ICF is no longer doing anything except cashing pay cheques??