Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Do Politicians 'Play Fair'? Is Santa Real?

 Smear Campaign

“We can plant anything we need to through him,” Routley tweeted to Heaney on Saturday. “He does a lot of mudline research and also creates memes. Some of … [them are] mine but not what I necessarily wanted to own. You may want to figure that resource into the equation.”

The preceding comes from a Vancouver Sun article which suggests that beneath those smiling 'elect-me' faces there could lurk the devious mind of a modern day politician willing to do whatever it takes to win.

Politicians may muse about apathetic voters etc., but it is this kind of behaviour that just reinforces the general public opinion of politicians in general. A little bit of 'Googling' and you will find that politicians seem to make the top ten most hated professions lists along with telemarketers, used car salesmen and the tax man.


Irish Rovers - Nanaimo March 16 & 17

THE IRISH ROVERS' 50th Anniversay Tour
March 16 & 17

The March 17th show has sold out but there is still limited seating available for the March 16th performance. You can check for more information and order tickets online using this LINK.


Island Roots Market Co-op Nanaimo Jan. 28/15

Pleasant Valley Hall
6100 Doumont Rd. Nanaimo
Wednesday's 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Monday, 26 January 2015

Winter Weather Warning For Nanaimo

Be Careful Not To Over-Heat By Over-Dressing

Due to daytime temperatures climbing into the double digit range, Nanaimo residents are advised to not dress in heavy winter coats or multiple layers that are required winter-wardrobes in the less fortunate parts of our great Dominion. Failure to heed this warning could result in possible heat exhaustion or in some extreme cases even heat stroke.


Some Construction Around Downtown Nanaimo

 Changing skyline on Front Street
The new condominium on Chapel Street is flanked by Nanaimo's oldest highrise on the left, and the newest highrise on the right. The building was sold on the basis that two rental units in the building would supply sufficient income to eliminate strata fees.

Tim Horton's Gets a Makeover
The Tim Hortons at the corner of Wallace and Comox Rd. is still providing their customers with a drive-thru service during their current renovation. The Timmy's at Brooks Landing recently underwent a similar makeover.


Things on the Net that make ya' smile


Indecent Exposure Suspect 375 Selby St. Nanaimo

Nanaimo RCMP are seeking the public's assistance to identify a man involved in an indecent exposure outside the Nanaimo Conservatory of Music, located at 375 Selby St., on Friday at approximately 4:45 pm.

An 11-year-old girl was waiting for her mother to arrive, when she saw a man standing outside the front door of the Conservatory of Music that opens onto Selby St. The man  exposed himself and began masturbating, he then left the area. The girl's mother arrived, and when told what happened she reported the incident to the Nanaimo RCMP.

Patrols of the area did not locate the suspect.  The young girl provided a description to an RCMP forensic artist and this sketch was prepared. The suspect is believed to be a white man, or possibly First Nations, in his 30s, five foot 11 with a dark tan and short brown hair. No clothing description was obtained.

If you have any information on this incident, please contact the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or Crime Stoppers at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com or by phone at 1-800-222-8477.


B.C. Fish & Wildlife Permits Move Online

Streamlined fish and wildlife application moves to online only

VICTORIA – To improve service, a variety of fish and wildlife applications will be available online only effective Monday, Feb. 2, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced today.

The latest permits to move online include:

  • Angling guide, game guide outfitters and transporters’ licences; 
  • Export permits; 
  • Transportation permits for endangered species, rainbow trout and farmed sturgeon; 
  • Scientific fish collection permits; 
  • Fur trade and trapping licences; and 
  • Various permits specifically required under the Wildlife Act, including permits for: 
  1. possessing dead wildlife or wildlife parts; 
  2. capturing, possessing or importing live wildlife; 
  3. rehabilitating injured wildlife; and, 
  4. operating a vehicle in an area closed under the act. 

Hunting and fishing licences will continue to be sold through retailers. Fishing licences will still be available online.

FrontCounter BC is the integrated, one-stop service for clients of B.C.'s natural resource ministries and agencies. For applications and further information, call toll free at 1-877-855-3222 or visit:www.frontcounterbc.gov.bc.ca


Sunday, 25 January 2015

January 26th Nanaimo COW Meeting Cancelled

According to several different posts on Facebook the Committee of the Whole Meeting scheduled for 4:30 pm January 26th has been cancelled.

This is obviously due to the heart attack suffered by Councillor Gord Fuller who is in intensive care, heavily sedated and intubated. The next 24 hours are a critical time for a most loved Nanaimo personality.


Nanaimo Councillor Gord Fuller In Hospital

It was gut-wrenching to hear the news, that Nanaimo City Councillor and advocate for the disenfranchised, Gord Fuller was stricken with a heart attack on Sunday about noon.

Information about Gord's attack was posted on his Facebook Page by friends and family who were attending at NRGH emergency.

The only information released at this time is that Gord is in serious condition in ICU and nothing will be known of his condition until tomorrow. His brother Robert Fuller is the person information will be released through and the public is asked to not call NRGH as they can not give out any information on Gord's condition.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gord and his family for a full and complete recovery.


Saturday, 24 January 2015

COW Meeting Changes Questioned

Click Image To View News Clip

CHEK News Victoria reported on the city staff recommendation that the Committee of the Whole Meetings be moved to the SARC building on Thursday afternoons at 1:00 pm.

Yours truly expressed my concern this move would have on the ability of the average Nanaimo taxpayer to see how our business is being conducted, as the meetings would not be televised or recorded according to the City Manager's recommendation.

The City Manager has stated in the past that he is not a fan of participatory democracy being of the opinion the public is to observe how council functions and is not to participate in the process.


Colliery Dam 'Engineering' Needs Investigation

What Exactly Has $2.5 Million Purchased?
Council Needs To Find Out Before Spending Another Dime!

Once again city staff is putting a recommendation before council after yet another engineering study suggesting we now need to accommodate more water than the current spillway can handle in an event most unlikely to ever happen. It is yet unproven that the concrete dam would fail, even in the event of an over topping.

There are serious questions which need answering about the $2.5 million which has been spent on engineering recommendations that arguably have been made using exaggerated risks, faulty measurements and incomplete and often wrong suppositions. Sudden failure, no rebar, crumbling old concrete, to name a few.

Clearly it is beyond the ability of this Council or the taxpayers of Nanaimo to evaluate what seems to be a large expenditure of tax dollars which has only provided conflicting advice. The process has resulted in findings which simply can not be trusted.

This city council needs to call upon the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia to investigate this whole case and put the whole issue on hold until their findings have been made.

The taxpayers of Nanaimo have spent $2.5 million and only a review by the regulator of this profession can be relied upon given the track record of the engineers the city has engaged.


Colliery Dam Update January 26/15

Recommended Swale To Cost 
$3,000,000.00 - $5,000,000.00

City Council will be considering the latest recommendation from city staff in the ongoing Colliery Dam Saga which to date has burned through over 2.5 million tax dollars which always seems to raise more questions than it answers. 

At one time the 'officials' were telling us that unless we put out up to $30 million as many as 150 people could die and countless property damage in Harewood would result. A million or so later, it turns out that was all simply not true. Latest studies indicate there could be the loss of less than one life and perhaps $2 million in property damage if the dam should fail as the result of an over-topping event. To date it has not been proven the dam would fail in this scenario either.

Nevertheless, we must completely suspend logic as city staff once again is convinced we have to spend up to $5 million to mitigate against a potential $2 million loss resulting from an unproven failure scenario.


Nanaimo Hotel Tax Benefits To Local Tourism

Room Tax to Encourage 
Visits and Sports Tourism

The City of Nanaimo, the Nanaimo Hospitality Association (NHA) and the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation (NEDC/Tourism Nanaimo) are pleased to announce provincial approval of a new source of funding for developing Nanaimo as a tourism destination. Nanaimo will be taking another step toward developing the potential of its tourism industry with the approval of the two per cent Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT).

The tax will be charged and remitted to the Province in the same fashion as the PST, those funds will be sent to the City of Nanaimo who in turn will forward the funds to the NHA who will determine which projects receive funding according to strict guidelines.

The MRDT applies to taxable accommodation sold in hotels, motels, resorts, hostels, bed & breakfasts and other establishments offering short-term accommodation.
"The accommodation operators in Nanaimo strongly believe that we must give people a reason to stop and visit the city that we all know and love. We must increase overnight stays.  The monies generated by the MRDT will help support the development of new tourism experiences and will augment the great work currently being done by Tourism Nanaimo and the NEDC."  Dan Brady, Chair of the NHA.

It is anticipated the tax which comes into effect of April 1/15 will generate $400,000 annually which will be used to fund programs designed to attract people who will not only come to Nanaimo, but will stay for at least two nights in local accommodation.

The funds will be dispersed at the rate of 45% to Festivals and events, 35% to Sports Tourism and 20% to the cost of marketing such programs.


Nanaimo Free Skate - January 25/15


Friday, 23 January 2015

COW Meeting - January 26/15

Committee of the Whole Meeting
Monday, Jan.26 , 2015
4:30 PM Shaw Auditorium
Vancouver Island Conference Centre

  • Meeting Dates and Agenda Circulation Times
  • Colliery Dams Update (spend $250,000 on design work)
  • Animal Control Standards and Care of Dogs
  • Animal Control - Cat Regulations
  • Hospital Area Transportation and Utility Replacement Tender

     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.

    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 city paid a consulting firm $75,000 for the purpose of reviewing and developing governance-related policy, structures and processes. (In other words to tell the city manager and mayor how to do their jobs). A recommendation that came out of this report was the hiring of Alison Habkirk (an associate of Jerry Berry) at a cost of $8500, again to tell city management and council how to do their jobs.
    Council decided to spend $120,000 to install a public toilet at Diana Krall Plaza.

    Council decided to spend at least $200,000 on the old theatre on Victoria Rd. when a $20,000 solution would have done, until it is decided what is to be done with the building long term. Two engineers have raised questions about the seismic standard of the building, but staff seem content to ignore the concern.  

    By deciding to bring downtown parking enforcement 'in-house' which was supposed to save tax dollars, we are now going to lose $140,000 in the first year.

    We are paying over $60,000/yr. for downtown parking attendants (meter maids).

    We gave a $300,000 tax exemption to the bar operating in the old train station. This exemption was originally thought to apply to the area of the train station used as a train station and not the area operating as a pub.   

    Council decided to spend $170,000 on an electric Zamboni, when a propane fueled one costs $80,000 and does the same job.

    Council decided to spend thousands of dollars to implement a policy of banning the sale of bottled water at civic facilities.

    Council decided to add another $700,000 to the $844,000,000 financial plan to pay for a communications person (spin doctor), do you think that is a good use of YOUR tax dollar??

    Three years ago they decided to spend $16,000,000.00 on a new staff office, an amount equal to YOUR tax increase for 5 years! 


    Cougar Spotted Near Randerson Ridge School

    CTV News reports Nanaimo Cougar Sighting

    NANAIMO - A recent cougar sighting near Randerson Ridge School is prompting parents, guardians and children to be more vigilant.

    McGirr Elementary School sent a release to parents and caregivers this morning. It serves as a reminder for all locals to be cautious, and gives tips on what to do if you encounter a large cat.

    So, what do you do if you spot a cougar?

    - Never approach a cougar. They are said to be unpredictable, and can be dangerous if they are feeding on a kill.
    - Always give a cougar an escape route.
    - Stay calm and speak to the cougar in a confident voice.
    - Pick children up off the ground immediately.
    - Don't run. Instead, back away slowly. Sudden movements can provoke an attack.
    - Don't turn your back on the cat. Face the cougar and stand up tall.
    - Do everything you can to increase your size by standing tall, picking up sticks or branches and wave them around.

    For students walking to or from school:
    - Walk in groups.
    - Don't walk through trails and stay on the road.

    You can find more information on the Conservation Officer Service here.
    If you see a cougar, you're asked to call 1-877-952-7277 and ask for the conservation officer on duty.


    Thursday, 22 January 2015

    City Manager Recommends COW Changes

    Schedule for 1:00 pm Thursday
    Not Broadcast or Record Them

    At first blush this recommendation would appear to take a giant step backwards in the area of openness, transparency and public scrutiny.

    As part of the intention to change council meetings and committee of the whole meetings from Mondays to Thursdays there is a recommendation which would hinder public scrutiny of the business conducted by this council.

    During the last city council's term Gord Fuller pressed long and hard to have the COW meetings videoed which has proven a very positive step in being able to review how things get done by your city council.

    If this city council adopts the city manager's recommendation it will greatly limit public scrutiny and input into the process. By holding the meetings at 1:00 pm it would limit the number of people able to attend during normal working hours. By not televising or recording the meetings it further restricts the public's ability to see what this council is up to.

    It will be interesting to see just how this new council handles this recommendation going forward. If they adopt the city manager's recommendation they will be telling the public loud and clear, they really don't want to encourage their input or scrutiny.

    Another test for this new council, which according to the rumbles in the coffee shop is quickly looking more like the old one all the time. The first tip off was the ratifying the 6% union contract, then accepting a 1% tax increase without even looking at the budget. If they adopt this COW change, so much for transparency.


    Vancouver Island Short Film Festival

    Student filmmaker returns to VISFF

    Steff Gundling is no stranger to the Vancouver Island Short Film Festival. The filmmaker, who was awarded two prizes at the 2013 VISFF for her very first short film 'Year Of The Living Dyingly' will be showing her new documentary 'Habit' on February 6 and 7 at this year's tenth annual show.

    “For me, filmmaking is about experimenting, trying new things, and problem solving,” said Gundling. “I know what story and mood I want to get across in what tone, and then it's about organically finding your way through it..”

    Gundling’s newest film will be screening at this year’s VISFF – one of 14 films selected from 65 entrants. This new film –‘Habit’ – is a documentary about the small habits everyone has.

    “I was challenged in myfilm classes to do a documentary and at the time I was trying to quit some of my vices,” said Gundling. “I had cut down on caffeine, smoking and alcohol and that’s where the idea for the documentary came from. As I was looked inward about why I was doing certain things, I started to notice the habits of other people.”

    Gundling’s first-ever short film ‘Year of the Living Dyingly’ won two awards at the 2013 VISFF for best Student film and best Technical. Being accepted into the festival that year was exciting for her, but winning awards was a shock.

    “It was a complete surprise. I’d be lying if I said I don’t love the awards or that I’m not excited about my success, but for me, it was more about my personal achievement, going to the event, and having the film seen by the audience for the first time. That was a big thing. I remember when they called me up for the first award, I fell down the stairs. I slid all the way down and had to get back up there. I was so nervous. But walking away from it was such a great experience. That’s  one of the reasons why I was kind of scared to submit my new film this year. It’s always a bit scary. But it feels great to be involved in the  festival again and be selected.”

    All fourteen selected films will be shown at the VISFF on February 6th and 7th at the Malaspina Theatre on the Nanaimo campus of Vancouver Island University.

    The VISFF received 65 entries of short films from Vancouver Island, the  mainland, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and also Missouri, New York,  Ireland, Switzerland the Netherlands and Iran. This is the most diverse selection of films ever submitted to the festival.

    This year, for the first time ever, the VISFF will have three screenings  of the selected films – two evening shows and a matinee on Feb. 7.  Tickets are available online at visff.com/tickets. Tickets are $10 for  students and $15 for regular tickets. There will also be tickets  available at the door. All screenings will showcase the same 14 films.  The Friday show will be followed by a musical performance by Nanaimo’s  own Top Men, the Saturday matinee show will be followed by a filmmaker  Q&A, and after the Saturday evening show there will be an awards ceremony for the winning filmmakers.

    The Vancouver Island Short Film Festival is a Nanaimo Arts Council event. For complete details, check out visff.com. To purchase tickets go to tickets.porttheatre.com, visit the Port Theatre (125 Front Street) or  call 250-754-8550.


    Mayor McKay Wants 1% Tax Increase

    Wants 1% Tax Increase in 2015

    At the special committee of the whole meeting on January 21, Mayor McKay put forward a motion instructing staff to prepare a budget with a 1% tax increase rather than the 1.8% increase currently in the draft budget.

    While this sounds like a positive step it should be noted it sends the signal that he has no hope for a 0% tax increase, or better yet a reduction in the current budget which could roll taxes back.

    This motion was passed with three councillors absent from the meeting. Councillors Kipp, Yoachim and Fuller were unable to attend this special meeting (these men do have 'regular' jobs) and while Councillor Bestwick tried to defer the motion until Monday his motion was defeated. The reason for deferral until Monday, would allow the three absent councillors to give their input into the most important document council deals with.


    Wednesday, 21 January 2015

    Time For A Massive National Building Program

    'FREE' Money Available - 
    Time For A Major Infrastructure Program?

    The Canadian economy is subject to so many external forces (Obama doesn't like pipelines), we don't know what our LNG will ever actually sell for and on and on it goes.

    Given that money is nearly 'free' these days (and is if you can print your own), then this humble scribe suggests we go on a major National Infrastructure Building progam and re-build our crumbling municipal infrastructure, our roads and bridges and ports and airports etc.

    This could provide all those good paying, productive jobs that would make us the envy of the developed world and leave something of real value for those to follow.


    Nanaimo Five Year Draft Financial Plan Available

    Download the 2015 - 2019 Draft City of Nanaimo Financial Plan HERE.

    The 148 page document will provide you will all you would ever want to know about where your tax dollars are going. As all of us know they have not been holding even in living memory and they are not budgeted to hold even going forward.

    For comparison in 2013 the actual revenue from property taxes was $89,382,256.00 and by 2019 that is budgeted to increase to $112,103,753.00. Revenue from user fees (another name for taxes) totaled $35,523,218.00 in 2013 and will increase to $43,237,527.00 by 2019.

    Another interesting piece of information contained in this document is the cost of wages and benefits for the City Manager's Office which was $415,222.00 in 2013 and is budgeted to be $671,616.00 by 2019.


    Nanaimo Family Play Day - Feb.8 & 9

    Family Day Weekend Events With the City of Nanaimo

    "We are excited to bring a variety of opportunities for families to spend time together during this upcoming Family Day long weekend including the Family Play Day at Oliver Woods. There will be something for everyone like story time, table games and a scavenger hunt." Deborah Beck Recreation Coordinator City of Nanaimo 

    The City of Nanaimo invites the community to join in on special family-focused events during the Family Day long weekend. The third annual Family Play Day will be held on Sunday, February 8 from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm at Oliver Woods Community Centre. Family Play Day activities will include fort building, gym games and challenges, puppet making and much more. Tickets to Family Play Day are $12 per family of 5 or $3 each (children 2 years and younger are free) and can be purchased at Beban Park, Bowen Park and Oliver Woods Community Centre.

    On Family Day, Monday, February 9, Nanaimo Ice Centre and Nanaimo Aquatic Centre will be open for special skating and swimming events. NIC will host Everyone Welcome Skates and Stick 'N Pucks. NAC will host an Everyone Welcome Swim.

    * Family Play Day activities will be held at Oliver Woods Community Centre on Sunday, February 9 from 9:30 am to 12:00 pm.

    * Tickets to Family Play Day are $12 per family of 5 or $3 each (children 2 years and younger are free) and can be purchased at Beban Park, Bowen Park and Oliver Woods Community Centre.

    * Nanaimo Ice Centre and Nanaimo Aquatic Centre will be open on Family Day, Monday, February 9 and will host special Family Day skate and swim activities.


    Nanaimo Art Gallery Jan. 24 - May 2, 2015


    January 24 to May 2, 2015
    Downtown Gallery
    Opening January 23, 7pm

    Sean Alward, Joost Conijn, Randy Lee Cutler, Steven Davies, Michael Drebert, Joar Nango, Kara Uzelman

    Curated by Jesse Birch

    This exhibition takes its name from Jean Francois Millet’s painting The Gleaners (1857), which depicts three peasant women hunched down picking the remainders of a harvest. The traditional practice of gleaning involves gathering and sharing forgotten or ignored food crops, but gleaning occurs whenever things or ideas that were once cast aside are given new value.

    Storytellers acquire their tales through travel to distant places, slow engagement with a single place or idea, or a combination of the two. In Gleaners, the process of collecting stories is integrated within the narratives themselves. These tales are shared through a range of media including photography, video, sculpture, music, and word of mouth.

    The exhibition will be accompanied by information about Nanaimo’s organised food gleaning programs courtesy of Nanaimo Foodshare.

    Free events and public programming:

    A talk and tour on the relationship between collecting and storytelling with artist Kara Uzelman and curator Jesse Birch on Saturday, January 24.

    Image: Joost Conijn, Wood Car, Video, 2002