Monday, October 31, 2011

City Council Hears Uplands Concerns

Uplands Low Barrier Project Addressed

There were no surprises when city council voted down Councilor Bestwick's motion to put the contentious Uplands Dr. low barrier project on hold until further study could be completed.

Anyone following this issue would know that the balance of council are determined to proceed with this low barrier project in this location in spite of neighbours concerns.

A number of delegations were heard supporting and opposing this project, none of which added anything new to the dialogue. Those in favour simply believe the concerns expressed by the neighbours are unfounded.

Those opposed have little confidence in the administration of the project from the start to the point we are now at. One thing all can agree upon is the fact that communication on this issue has been a complete failure on all levels from the get go. Part of that failure lying squarely with the vast majority of the community who paid little attention to what the city and province were up to until just recently.

A definite threat was put forward by a spokesman for the CCN group who claim to have some 2,000 supporters. It was suggested the group could change the political fortunes of many sitting on council, should they remove their support from councillors who are in favour of the Uplands site. Considering the fact that most sitting on council have about 15% of the eligible vote, the movement of even a few hundred votes could see some brand new faces on council.

This could very well be the one issue that defines the civic election of 2011.



  1. We now know who to vote for. Thanks for trying Bestwick.

  2. Council Rules

    At Monday's Council meeting Bill Bestwick made a motion for a review of other site options for low barrier housing in the north end.  He explained that Council had not followed the consultation process provided in the 2008 MOU and the City's Homelessness Action Plan. The motion was defeated eight to one.  There is an important lesson in civic politics here.

    We all work within boundaries and rules. We tell our kids to obey the rules, athletes play by the rules and we expect politicians to follow rules. The rules for civic leaders are contained in various places such as the BC Community Charter and a number of City policies and procedures.  These rules called for public consultation before the Uplands site was selected.

    All Council members have the best of intentions and believe passionately in the cause of ending homelessness in Nanaimo.  With Uplands they had to make a difficult choice. Should there be a public hearing or should the decisions be made in camera without public knowledge or input. All but one decided to bend the rules and opt for secrecy because, I think, they expected a great deal of negative feedback and because they perceived this feedback as a threat to the implementation of the City's social housing plan.

    So is it ok to bend the rules if it is to ensure the success of a plan in which one is heavily invested?  It could be an easy rationalization, especially when the plan has a lot of supporters and social benefits.  But is it right and is it fair?  That's an individual decision and in the upcoming election we can ask the candidates the question, 'are you willing to bend the rules to help ensure the success of a project you feel strongly about?'

    Fred Kardel


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