Monday, December 31, 2012
Stories That Matter To Everyone In Nanaimo
If You Want The Usual Fluff & Stuff
You're In The Wrong Place
Follows are what could be considered news stories which have an impact on every man, woman and child residing in the city of Nanaimo. They are assembled in no particular order of importance with the exception of the first story, which was the decision to sell off the inner harbour to a private company. While this deals only with the harbour deal, it does point to the tendency in Nanaimo of major decisions being made by a select few with no public input.
Give Away Inner Harbour For $9,000,000.00
In what clearly expresses the complete disregard for the concerns or opinions of the city of Nanaimo, the fiefdom of Mr. Dumas, aka Nanaimo Port Authority, decided behind closed doors to accept a deal initiated by a private company to lease the inner harbour for 30 years in exchange for $9,000,000.00 worth of dock improvements.
An important issue which will never be addressed given the complete autonomy of the NPA is the matter of management at the NPA which claims to be unable to take care of the needed upgrades from their own earnings, given they have had the 'cash cow' of the Nanaimo waterfront at their disposal for years. How, can they possibly not be able to fund the needed upgrades to the inner harbour?
What is perhaps most disturbing about this deal, is the fact it was initiated by an outside firm, not unlike the now infamous white elephant occupying space on Commercial Street. Something with this much potential to shape the very essence of what defines our downtown, and the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Nanaimo and the residents have absolutely nothing to say about it's future!
If one story deserves the 'Outrage of The Year Award' ........ this would be it!
Blue Community Award By Banning Bottled Water
In what could clearly be described as an obvious example of a city council pandering to the podium and bowing to CUPE pressure, the decision to ban bottled water in Nanaimo facilities is a screaming example of another disregard for how tax dollars get spent in Nanaimo.
On the one hand city hall tells us the water from the taps is so pure it is as good as treated bottled water, yet we are also told we need to spend $82,000,000 on a new water treatment plant to make sure the water is safe.
If you are looking for consistency and logic to flow from city hall, you will be waiting a good long time! Consistent and City Hall are not two words that are compatible in the same sentence, unless consistent disregard for taxing and spending, counts.
ICF & Pub Tax Exemption
I think everyone agrees that having a rail service on the island is desirable, so perhaps would be a high-speed subway from here to Victoria and perhaps Vancouver. But it really boils down to the economics of the whole issue, and from observation of how the ICF seems to operate, I am not betting too heavy on their management skills.
After having the provincial government turn down their business plan in 2010, in which the ICF were looking for over $100,000,000 to get the rail line back on line, they have scaled down their finance objectives considerably.
They have whittled away by nickel and dimeing the provincial government, the federal government, the municipalities and now finally the regional districts, all of whom seem willing to throw 'just one more million' into the pot with no assurance that really is the last time the ICF will come hat in hand as the only business plan ever presented was already rejected by the provincial government back in 2010.
Tax Exempt Pub .... Really!!
In a move that seemed to have slipped by our ever studious city councillors, the ICF managed to get a $300,000 tax exemption for the old train station where a pub is currently operating. The pub of course, has been given an unfair market advantage which will likely have an impact on the already-struggling pub and restaurant businesses in town.
While it is reported that over 700 new business licences have been taken out this past year, there is no data which indicates what the 'net' number of business actually are. For example if 700 businesses close and 700 businesses open there is a net increase of zero. So the 7oo number being published is pretty much meaningless.
What is noteworthy is the number of food establishments and other businesses which have simply gone quietly into the night. There seemed a small epidemic of restaurant failures in the downtown core this past year with signs in other parts of town that all is not well in the restaurant business. This business as a class does have a reputation for high mortality but it does seem that Nanaimo's restaurant sector is indeed struggling more than what is the norm.
In spite of the carloads of tax dollars that have been funneled into the downtown area, it is still not a place many retailers can expect much in the way of success. The numbers are simply not there, which is why the rent is so cheap.
Food Banks Are Here To Stay
What was likely thought to be some temporary help back in the 80's has become just as much a part of the Nanaimo landscape as the Bastion or Nanaimo Bars, of course I refer to the business of food banks and various feeding programs across the city.
Thousands of Nanaimo residents now rely on the charity of different feeding programs and food banks simply to keep body and soul together and it seems that is not likely to change anytime soon.
As testimony to the need to augment social assistance and other 'safety net' programs we all cherish the local food bank is an enterprise that has seen the addition of increased warehouse space, commercial storage systems, fork lifts and now a refrigerated truck has been added to the fleet. In addition they now have satellite operations across the city to address the need for supplying the very basic of food!
Gas Prices In Nanaimo Seem To Lack Any Competition
Nanaimo has become known as the most expensive place to buy gas on the east coast of the island, not exactly the sort of thing you want to be known for.
The local gas retail cartel seem to lack any real competition with most stations pricing their product exactly the same, to the tenth of a penny! They are also consistently higher than Duncan, Comox and even Victoria. As witnessed by the current 'holiday price' in Nanaimo of 122.9 while Duncan still sells for 109.9 and Victoria pumps for 113.9.
The monopoly which controls Nanaimo's gas prices seem beyond any authorities ability to deal with, and the Nanaimo public seems to enjoy being screwed at the pump.
The City of Nanaimo brain trust recently decided to giveaway the old city Annex which had previously been appraised at nearly $4,000,000.00. They did it because they insisted in superseding the Canadian Building Code which would not have required seismic upgrading if the use of the building were not changing.
You may recall that city staff decided to spend $16,000,000.00 on a shiny new office with shiny new furniture based on concerns about the seismic state of this building. The engineers statement they quote as being the reason for this egregious expenditure of tax dollars was:
“Upon review of the seismic condition of the building, we conclude that in a seismic event, there is a risk of significant damage or partial collapse of the building occurring.”
Can you imagine ANY building on the face of the planet that this statement could not be applied to? A seismic event (unspecified) could bring risk of damage to ANY structure on the face of the earth.
It would seem to my suspicious mind that city hall did not want to make this building available without this condition as it would likely have pointed to the fact they didn't really need to build that shiny new $12,000,000 office which they built without going to public tender.
$700,000 For City Hall Spin Doctor
In what is a first in all the time I have watched city council, council actually went against the recommendation of city manager, Mr. Kenning and voted to add $700,000 to the five year financial plan to engage a professional wordsmith at city hall. Leading the charge was tax and spend expert, Councilor Brennan with Councillors Anderson and McKay joining the charge as the newest members of the tax and spend club on city council.
VICC & Downtown Nanaimo
Yes, downtown Nanaimo certainly 'looks' better than it did some years ago. Are the merchants any more successful? Does the downtown generate as much taxes as it used to? Does city hall REALLY have a plan to turn this business disaster zone around? Is there any limit to the number of tax dollars they are going to take from residents and other businesses to make a success of this area?
The VICC is expecting the best year since they opened six years ago with the highest number of delegate days expected next year. So why, you may ask are they asking to increase their annual subsidy by over 25%? They are looking for another $234,000 next year, on top of a subsidy which is already likely over $1,000,000.00. Funny, this never came to light last year, when their contract was renewed for another five years. Just another example of the shrewd business acumen of the brain trust at city hall.
Don't ask Mr. Howat or anyone else at city hall to explain this to you, as I doubt they understand how the VICC contract really works any better than members of council. Clearly this agreement was written by the operators of the conference centre, and our city staff just asked where to sign!
Plans & Surveys Do Not A Mandate Make
A recent mantra being repeated by some city councillors is to point to the taxpayer satisfaction survey conducted by IPSOS Reid as some indication that Nanaimo taxpayers think city hall is doing a bang up job! The fact the survey was based on the opinion of only 300 people and used a format guaranteed to get a positive result (remember IPSOS is in the business of selling surveys), is hardly a mandate to keep on keeping on with unlimited taxing and spending.
The only people who think all is well at city hall, are the ones paying no attention at all. These were probably the ones called for the survey.
A survey I have conducted on this website shows over a 90% disapproval rate, when asked about specific issues rather than generally vague questions, as IPSOS used.
The recently complete $120,000 Strategic Plan is now being used to justify spending on any pet project from soup to nuts. The fact the plan clearly points to the need to deal with spending priorities based on the communities ability to pay seems lost on the tax and spend crew at city hall.
Water, Sewer & Roads Being Ignored In Favour Of Shiny New Offices
Back in 2010 city works presented an asset management study which indicates we are underfunding our water, sewer and roads by over $12,000,000.00 per year. That means if we were properly funding the basics of water, sewer and roads we would have seen our taxes increase by over 14% two years ago. But for reasons I can only guess at, the city manager and city council have chosen to ignore this fact and keep kicking the can down the road.
Personally, I think the fact a large number of city staff can retire with full pension after 2013 is the reason the city manager recommended ignoring this issue until after 2013. Of course like good little 'rubber stampers' city council just keeps going along with what the city manager says.
Another reason for not dealing with this underfunding of the most basic of services is the fact it would have been harder to spend $16,000,000 on a shiny new office if water, sewer and roads were being properly taken care of.
Wages & Benefits At City Hall 'Out of Control'
During a time when people in the 'real world' have had to find ways to tighten their belts, and in many cases have been happy to simply been able to keep their jobs organized labour at city hall has been quietly seeing their pay packets increasing as if we were still in the 'goold old days'.
There seems no serious effort on the part of city council or city hall management to bring these increases into line with the reality of the times and why should there be. I am sure that exempt staff wage increase will somehow be linked to union wage increases.
From 2007 - 2012 CUPE employees working for the city saw their wages increase by 16.5%, pretty nice if you can swing it. From 2007 - 2009 the IAFF managed a 13.5% increase for their members and are still in negotiations for a new contract, which I am willing to bet will be another really sweet deal.
Don't expect any members of city council who had fat campaign contributions from labour unions to make any kind of an issue about the amount of money going out in city wages. When you consider wages, benefits,pensions and sick days and the like, the cost of wages at city hall is in the $60,000,000.00 per year range.
Strategic Plans, Governance Plans, Seawalk Plans, Transportation Plans, Economic Plans, Parking Meter Collection Plans ................ but no need for a Core Review?
This tops the WTF category of any story which came out of city hall this past year. City hall management is always spending thousands and thousands of dollars hiring outside consultants to tell them how to do their jobs, yet steadfastly resist the need for a Core Services Review.
As could be expected councilors whose only interest is protecting union-protected positions are four square against any such reviews that might point to efficiencies that could mean a better bang for the taxpayers buck they joyously spend week after week after week.
Colliery Parks Dams Removal
There was no other story this past year which better encapsulates everything that is wrong with the way city hall conducts this city's business than this one.
Of course, like all major decisions made by city hall, this one was conducted in-secret behind closed doors, as was the decision to build that shiny new office a few years ago.
It appears that city staff as early as 2009 had pretty much decided on removing the dams as was made apparent by the engineers comments in the 2010 seismic assessment report he prepared. This report suggested the dams could be replaced for $10 million +, or rehabilitated for half a million each. In that report he says the city did not think rehab was a good use of tax dollars.
For an issue city staff have been kicking around since 2003, there was this sudden urgency this past October which resulted in a hurried, in-camera meeting where city council was presented with what now appears to be very questionable 'facts' about the condition of these dams. It appears, staff were presenting council with 'fact's that could only lead to the conclusion to remove the dams, with the greatest of haste. Over-stated probabilities of failure as well as over stating construction costs were all part of the decision to remove the dams.
The decision was made in such a way as to pretty much insure little to no push-back from the public and as usual the local daily was onside promoting the need to remove the dams, given the 40% chance of failure and the $30 million price tag to replace the dams. It now seems both of these 'facts' were not supported by the engineers findings but rather seem to be the conclusions of senior city managers, whose expertise in dams and such has never been demonstrated.
Only after an organized, educated and unexpected push-back came from a passionate group of Harewood residents was the city forced to take a second look at their decision. While the city would appear to be honoring the desire to have an unbiased second opinion of comparative costs to rehab the dams, the city seems to still be trying to stack the deck in favour of removing the dams.
How? They are hiring the same engineering firm (already the benefactors of a $400,000 sole source contract) to provide a study about rehabilitating the dams. This same firm is already employed to oversee the dams removal. Can you say 'conflict' or at the very least the appearance of such.
It turns out there really was no need to once again award juicy sole source contracts as the city overstated the need for urgency, claiming they did not have time to put this engineering contract out to tender. The fact they have known there was an issue since 2010, makes it hard to explain why we now have suddenly run out of time!
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Out Of The Mouths Of Babes!
The concept this young person articulates so well explains what is wrong with the Canadian Banking System and why there is no political will to change it. You may have to listen several times before the truth of what she is saying sinks in, as it is foreign to what we have come to believe about how finances work. While what she is saying is true, it is not a new thought but is one that has been resisted by those who rule over us for decades. Wonder why?
There is NO reason why anyone who takes out a mortgage to buy their own home should have to pay multiple times the value of the home to a bank for simply keeping track of payments. Can you imagine what your house would cost you, if you weren't paying all that interest? Why do you suppose you are paying all that interest??
The next time you get a mortgage statement from your bank, consider how fast you would own your home if the interest portion of your payment was going to pay down the debt? Why should banks earn all that interest when they are loaning you money that does not exist and are taking no risk of default with Canadian taxpayer insured mortgages. It is a mighty sweet deal they have put together for themselves, don't you think?
Think about it. It will change the way you look at a whole lot of economic issues. Listen to it again, and again until it sinks in. You will be glad you did. Of course the politicians and the bankers will tell you it is just a bunch of bunk .... but of course why wouldn't they?
The following quote has been making the rounds on the internet since 2008, and has been refuted as not being an accurate quote from Cicero. That said, whether it was said by such a notable person or not, the wisdom it contains is undeniable.
“The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance.” – Cicero , 55 BC
What Horses Ass Designed That?
The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that’s the way they built them in England, and English expatriates designed the US railroads.
Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used. Why did ‘they’ use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.
Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England , because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts. So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England ) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since.
The ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome , they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Therefore the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Bureaucracies live forever.
So the next time you are handed a specification/procedure/process and wonder ‘What horse’s ass came up with this?’, you may be exactly right. Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses. (Two horses’ asses.)
Now, the twist to the story:
When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah.
The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains, and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses’ behinds.
So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse’s ass. And you thought being a horse’s ass wasn’t important? Ancient horse’s asses control almost everything...
Sunday, December 30, 2012
The following is a re-cap of articles from this blog which have appeared during 2012, all of which are related to city hall and how city staff and city council conduct the business of the city on behalf of the taxpayers.
Each item is linked directly to the full article as it appeared on this blog which I hope will make for a useful reference tool if you wish to do some research or to simply refresh your memory on a wide variety of city hall decisions which have a direct effect on all of our lives in this little piece of paradise.
Does Port Theatre Need More Money or Better Management?
Contracting Out Review
Nanaimo Water Options Explored
Water Urgency Claim In Doubt
Council Approves Port Theatre Request
Councilor Greves Wants Legal Advice
Contracting Out Review
Nanaimo Water Options Explored
Water Urgency Claim In Doubt
Council Approves Port Theatre Request
Councilor Greves Wants Legal Advice
Simply go to www.Nanaimo-Info-Blog.com and if you are on a mobile device it will allow you to read Nanaimo Info anytime, anywhere........there is wifi of course!
The Lion's 50th Annual Christmas Tree chipping service will be available on Jan.5 and Jan.6, 2012 in the south west corner of the parking lot in Nanaimo North Town Centre (formerly Rutherford Mall).
Your donations are gratefully accepted and will help the many Lions charities which include youth programs in this area.
Chipping is available both days between 10:00am and 4:00 pm.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
There will be no charge to take the bus after 8:30 pm on New Year's Eve and during the early hours of New Year's Day, thanks to the Regional District of Nanaimo and BC Transit. In order to provide a safe, convenient travel option for the community, BC Transit and the RDN will offer free, modified service on RDN Transit routes from 8:30 pm on Dec. 31 to 2:30 am on Jan. 1.
"I would like to thank BC Transit for its commitment to riders and its generous support of our New Year's Eve Transit Service," said RDN Chair Joe Stanhope. "Taking public transit is a convenient way for residents to travel to and from New Year's Eve celebrations without having to worry about how to get home safely."
RDN Transit is also partnering with Woodgrove Centre on New Year's Day to provide Sunday service levels throughout the Region.
The RDN Transit schedule for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day is provided below. For more information, please visit www.rdn.bc.ca and click on transit alerts or call 250-390-6565.
- December 31 Regular Weekday Service Until 8:29 pm
- December 31 Free modified evening service from 8:30pm to 2:30am
- January 1 Sunday service levels (provided by the RDN and Woodgrove Centre)
- January 2 Regular Service Resumes
Friday, December 28, 2012
Smart Meter installation deadline extended
BC Hydro has installed 93 per cent or 1.73 million of 1.87 million smart meters. To ensure the final seven per cent of smart meters can be installed, the Province is extending the deadline under the Clean Energy Act from Dec. 31, 2012, to Dec. 31, 2013.
Shortages in qualified labour, equipment and specialized meters, plus customer concerns, prevented BC Hydro from fully installing all smart meters in 2012.
The additional time will enable BC Hydro to complete the work and address as many customer concerns as possible before finalizing smart meter installations.
Smart meters are expected to pay for themselves by delivering $1.6 billion in benefits over 20 years. These are savings that BC Hydro will not have to collect from customers.
Research has shown that some of the new tools available through smart meters will enable customers to conserve up to 15 per cent in energy costs. Smart meters will make possible new conservation tools like secure online customer accounts and optional in-home devices that will provide homeowners with up-to-date information about power use.
Once smart meters are fully installed and operational, they will also let BC Hydro know of an outage immediately, so power can be restored faster.
District Sells School For $150,000
An article in today's Daily News reports the School District (that is you and I) have agreed to sell an unused school to a theatre group for $150,000.00. The terms of sale are a very generous five year interest-free mortgage to help the theatre society close the deal.
A Few Questions For Jamie Brennan:
- Is this anything close to market value for this property?
- What is the assessed value of the land and building?
- Was it appraised by anyone in the real estate business?
- Are there any seismic standards conditions attached to this sale?
- How much was the building leasing for?
- Why is this a better deal than continuing to rent the property?
- Is this a good deal for the taxpayer?
- If so, how?
Ring in the New Year with Parks, Recreation and Culture
December 19, 2012 - Get ready for a party in the “streets” at Finale 2012, the annual New Year’s Eve celebration at Beban Park. Join Parks, Recreation and Culture for a family New Year’s Eve event with a “Mardi Gras” theme. The night begins at 5:00pm with swimming, games and crafts at the Beban Pool and Glow in the Dark Skating at the Frank Crane Arena.
You can also enjoy a hockey room with hockey games to play and watch, or have your face painted and make your own decorated mask in our crafts room. Don’t worry about cooking or feeding the kids before the event as there will be a wide variety of food vendors the whole family is sure to enjoy.
Somenos Drum Line from Duncan will kick off our main stage event at 6:30, followed by children’s musical entertainer Ian Johnstone. Greg Ladret, our MC will entertain the crowds with his magical illusions, followed by Circus Artist, Jake West and the first New Year countdown of the night at 8:00pm.
For our later crowd, the VIBE dance group Footclan, will start off this half of the evening with free and choreographed dance routines, followed by music with Ian Johnstone and more Circus Art with Jake West. We will conclude our evening with a performance by local talent and rising star Jayden Holman, as he rocks us from 9-10 into our final countdown.
Finale 2012 tickets make a great gift for family and friends. Tickets are on sale now at Beban Park and are $25.00 per family (maximum of 4) or $10.00 per person, children 2 and under are free. Say farewell to 2012 and welcome 2013 in Mardi Gras fashion, with Nanaimo Parks, Recreation and Culture. For more information on Finale 2012 call 756-5200.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Overnight: 0 cm
Snowbase: 492 cm
Overnight: 0 cm
Snowbase: 492 cm
24 Hrs: 10 cm
48 Hrs: 35 cm
48 Hrs: 35 cm
Snow Conditions: Powder - Machine Groomed
CounterAttack road checks raise public awareness about road safety and remove impaired drivers from our roadways. It is an effective deterrence against drunk drivers. Although the fatality and injury rates are decreasing, the ultimate goal is not to have any alcohol-related collisions. We want to make sure everyone has a safe and happy holiday season.
Despite the progress that has been made since 1977 when CounterAttack was introduced; impaired driving continues to be a serious problem. Many people still believe it is alright to drink and drive. On average, 133 lives are lost and 3,400 people are injured in approximately 5,600 impaired-related crashes each year.
The RCMP will be using all available enforcement tools to keep impaired drivers off our roads.
Failing or refusing to submit to a breath-test or drug evaluation carries the same Criminal Code of Canada penalties as impaired driving.
- If the breath test results are ‘Over .05’ or you are deemed to be impaired by a qualified assessing officer, you will be prohibited from driving for 24 hours.
- If you provide a breath-test that is ‘Over .08’ or refuse to provide a breath-test you are subject to a 90 day Driving Prohibition regardless of whether or not you are subsequently charged or convicted of impaired driving.
Here are some of the things that you can do:
- Arrange for a designated driver, use transit, take a taxi, or call a sober friend/family member for a ride
- Operation Rednose
- BCAA’s free tow pilot program
- Spend the night at a friend’s house
There is no quick way to sober up. Contrary to popular belief - food, coffee, cold showers or exercise will not speed up the elimination of alcohol from your body. The only thing that reduces the effects of alcohol is time. Make the right choice and completely separate driving from drinking.
Colliery Dams Options To Be Studied
Following Council’s direction to staff at the December 17th regular Council meeting to engage professional engineers to undertake conceptual level cost estimates for rehabilitating or rebuilding Colliery Dams while preparatory engineering and environmental study work to remove the dams and re-naturalize the Chase River is carried out concurrently, a two-stage action plan has been developed, the City of Nanaimo announced today.
“The desire to see cost estimates for the rehabilitation or rebuilding of the Colliery Dams from those members of the community who are interested in saving these structures has been heard clearly by Council”, said Nanaimo City Mayor, John Ruttan. “I am confident the two-stage plan staff has outlined will effectively address questions around rehabilitation or replacement costs and what these costs will equate to in terms of meeting public life safety objectives, as well as to municipal borrowing and public tax expenses.”
The two-stage action plan is broken down as follows:
1. Klohn Crippen Berger (KCB) will be retained to do the conceptual level cost estimates. KCB has extensive experience with the assessment, design and construction of dams, are familiar with the recent studies and assessments of the Colliery Dams, and have excellent knowledge of British Columbia’s dam safety regulations and standards. KCB has also been retained to carry out the design work necessary to fulfill the proposal to remove the Colliery Dams.
2. The City will issue a Request for Proposal in early January for an engineering consultant to do a peer review of KCB’s work. The peer review will first involve an assessment of the concepts being considered for rehabilitation and rebuilding. Based on that initial assessment, KCB will then develop the conceptual level cost estimates. Those cost estimates will also be subject to the peer review process.
“We believe our action plan will return excellent professional advice, advice that is supported by qualified peer reviews, resulting in Council feeling confident in the thoroughness of the information they have received”, said General Manager of Community Services, Tom Hickey. “But the work will need to take place quickly – these engineering consultants will have to observe a two to three month timeline for developing the conceptual level cost estimates. This requirement is critical as the design for the removal of the dams is expected to be completed and ready to be tendered in April or May; consequently Council will need to consider the new information regarding the conceptual level cost estimates for rehabilitating or replacing the dams before then.”
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Nanaimo Gas Retailers At It Again
Rip-Off Prices Just Before A Holiday
As Oil Prices Plummet The Nanaimo Gas Cartel Gouge The Motoring Public
It is absolutely despicable the way Nanaimo gas retailers are blatantly gouging the Nanaimo motoring public, making Nanaimo known as 'the' place not to buy gasoline.
If you have been paying attention, Nanaimo for the past weeks and weeks has been selling gas for 116.9 compared with 109.9 in Duncan and Victoria. It would seem the motoring public either didn't notice the difference or really don't care about being hosed at the pumps.
Two days before Christmas the prices in Victoria jumped to 122.9 for one day, no real explanation was given for the jump but within a day, the rip-off artists in Nanaimo followed suit and raised prices to match the Victoria price of 122.9.
However, unlike Victoria which dropped back down again, just as quickly as they jumped up Nanaimo gougers have held the price at 122.9 making sure they could extract the last possible dollar from the holiday travelling public.
Tell me again, just how much legitimate competition exists in the Nanaimo gas retailing business??
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
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Monday, December 24, 2012
BC Ferries Nanaimo Schedules
& Current Conditions
Departure Bay - Horseshoe Bay Sailings
Current Ferry Schedule
Current Conditions at Departure Bay Terminal
Current Conditions at Horseshoe Bay Terminal
Duke Point - Tsawwassen Sailings
Current Ferry Schedule
Current Conditions at Duke Point Terminal
Current Conditions at Tsawwssen Terminal
Current Ferry Schedule
Current Conditions at Departure Bay Terminal
Current Conditions at Horseshoe Bay Terminal
Duke Point - Tsawwassen Sailings
Current Ferry Schedule
Current Conditions at Duke Point Terminal
Current Conditions at Tsawwssen Terminal
VANCOUVER, BC, Dec. 22, 2012/ Troy Media/ – Provincial home sales held steady in November but languished at recessionary levels as soft economic conditions and tighter federal mortgage insurance rules continued to squeeze home purchasing activity.
Total MLS sales in November were virtually unchanged from October at a seasonally-adjusted 5,130 units but down 17 per cent from same-month 2011.
Despite relative provincial stability, there were significant deviations among regional areas as declines in the Lower Mainland and the North were offset by higher sales in Vancouver Island and the Okanagan markets.
The ongoing slump pushed year-to-date activity to 64,625 units in November, down 11 per cent from 2011, and the lowest same-period pace since 2008. Activity since July confirms that tighter federal mortgage insurance rules have materially impacted on home sales – roughly by about 7 per cent to 9 per cent.
While sales in the Lower Mainland were already in decline prior to the shift, downward momentum accelerated as some buyers were priced out of the market for their desired properties and availability of government-backed mortgage insurance was limited to homes with a purchase price of less than $1 million.
Sales in the rest of the province, including areas still struggling to recover, also pulled lower following a period of relatively stable activity. Sales-to-active listings ratios in most regions of the province are low, pointing to an excess of inventory relative to the current sales pace.
The persistence of stringent credit market conditions and slow-growth economy will impede a sales recovery into 2013 and lead to a modest downward price adjustment. B.C.’s average MLS price fell 4 per cent from October to a seasonally-adjusted $492,500 in November, marking a drop of 9 per cent from same-month 2011.
However, the sharp price declines largely reflected geographic and compositional shifts in the market, rather than pure price deflation. A relatively steeper decline in Lower Mainland sales means the average price is more heavily weighted to lower-priced markets.
Meanwhile, constant-quality price indices such as the MLS Home Price Index and Teranet Home Price Index for the Lower Mainland suggest underlying prices have slipped from recent highs by about 3 per cent, but generally level from same-period 2011. This contrasts with a 7 per cent year-over-year drop in the average price, and points to a shift in sales composition to lower-priced multi-family product.
Spirit of Christmas Decorating Contest
The results of this years residential Christmas Decorating Contest are in and the displays are absolutely spectacular. Nanaimo residents have really outdone themselves once again.
The annual event is sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce and Laird Wheaton who supplies fuel and transportation for the judges who this year actually had winter-like driving conditions as they made their rounds on Monday night.
The judging is done by 6 volunteers headed by Marilyn Sullivan who has been judging the Christmas lights for 25 years now. Kudos to Marilyn and the other volunteers who make this contest possible.
So over the Christmas season, fill up the thermos with hot chocolate, program the GPS and set off for a night of ooowing and awwwwing as you discover this year's winning displays.
This Year's Residential Christmas Lights List
WOW 34 Homes This Year!
WOW 34 Homes This Year!
- 5140 Hammond Bay Road
- FIRST PLACE - 6262 Olympia Way - Nixon's (absolutely amazing)
- 6247 Olympia Way - Ed Mayers
- McGirr - Candy Cane Lane
- 6060 Nelson Rd. (off Turner) - Hank Wouters
- 5683 Renata Lane - Steve Guizzo (off Turner Rd. R. on Carlton to Renata Lane
- 5152 Sam's Way Ron & Diane Brown (off Oliver Road)
- 3930 Rock City Rd. Jo-ann Drnasin
- 3096 Rock City Rd.
- 3666Cottleview Dr. - Kathryn Wilkins
- 887 Brookfield Dr.
- HONOURABLE MENTION - 4311 Jingle Pot Rd. - Norm
- 2320 Whitney Road - Chris Bragg
- HONOURABLE MENTION - 2172 Duggn Rd. - Duane Plested
- 2535 Holyrood R. Wilson's
- 520 Churchill - Geoff
- THIRD PLACE - 1205 Townsite Rd. - Jennifer
- 921 Cadogan Street
- SECOND PLACE - 2875 Shady Mile Way - Colleen Budd (Beautiful)
- 449 Renfrew St.
- 431 Selby St.
- 491 Howard Ave.
- 365 Howard Ave.
- 435 Fourth Ave.
- 886 Ney Drive (off Vista View to the right)
- 5994 to 6010 Icarus (4 homes in a row)
- 1675 Meredith Road
- 710 Hunter
- 1755 Harvest Place
- 5122 Kaitlyns Way
- 3425 Durin Road
- 363 Harwell Rd.
- 2177 Wren Place
- 3209 Cheyenne Place
The failed motion to conduct a core services review at city hall was a predictable outcome, prior to the vote I was offering 2:1 odds against passage of Councilor Kipp's motion. I was unable to make any money by wagering on the outcome, as no one I know would take the bet. The reason? To any regular council watcher, the possibility that motion would pass had as much chance as the proverbial snowball in hell.
I realize what is offered here, is no more than my personal opinion based on the past five years of watching more council meetings than I have personally cared to and as such is no more valid than anyone else's opinion who also pays attention.
Councilor Brennan and Greves opposition was clearly predictable given their support base, both financially and at the polls. They both would have deserved support from the local trade unions and the labour movement in general. Some might see this as a good balance to counter the councilors who have the interests of business primarily as there financial support base.
In Nanaimo there also appears a strong special interest group who, although less visible represent considerable sway at election time, and that is the arts and culture (think theatres and such) lobby group. This group doesn't bring a lot of financial support to a candidates chances at election time, but could bring enough votes to help determine the outcome at the polls.
Another interest group even harder to define would represent the 'sports' lobby in Nanaimo who may also bring more support at the polls than cash in the campaign war chest, but they exist nonetheless.
The biggest group in Nanaimo who have no special lobby groups are the 73% of all voters who chose not to vote last election. Which is why special interest groups with less than 15% of the eligible vote get to decide how your tax dollars get spent.
Core Reviews Are Feared In Some Camps
Again, my opinion only. But I think councilors with a pro-labour bent simply have to oppose core service reviews as they are seen as a threat to union-protected jobs which they fear could be eliminated as the result of a core services review. Councilors who see such reviews as being potentially disruptive to city staff also oppose such reviews on that basis. They apparently don't see the benefit that could come from such a review which could create better ways of doing things with a resultant economic saving to the Nanaimo taxpayer.
Both Councilor Brennan and Greves spoke at length as to why they opposed a core service review, although given the review was to be defined by a council committee many of their objections did not seem valid. The acceptance of any core review recommendations would also be subject to council approval, so you have to wonder what they thought was at stake.
Both of these councilors have strong support from the labour lobby in Nanaimo which is clear from their campaign contributions. For example Councilor Greves received $6500 from trade unions for his by-election campaign and $16,000 from trade unions for his general election campaign, for a total in one year of $22,500.00.
Councilor Brennan received $6500.00 from trade unions in the 2011 general election and $10,000.00 from trade unions in her '08 failed mayoral campaign bid.
Taxpayers Only Losers As Result Of Failed Review
Any corporation the size of the city of Nanaimo can always benefit from a review of how they conduct the affairs of a corporation doing nearly one billion dollars of business in five years. To think that the entrenched management would offer the same fresh perspective as an outside consulting firm is foolish to say the least.
City hall is forever hiring outside guns (consultants) to help guide the city in the decision making process, for example we spent $120,000 on a strategic plan to guide policy at city hall. This study by the way was deemed necessary by Mr. Kenning as a precursor to a core service review. To suggest that city hall management need outside assistance for things like figuring out how to extend the seawalk, plan transportation etc. etc. and at the same time reject a core review to provide overall management, just makes no sense.
Councilors who opposed the review were Brennan, Greves, Johnstone, Pattje and Mayor Ruttan.
Losers of this defeated vote are Nanaimo taxpayers!
What else is new?
Sunday, December 23, 2012
Worth Repeating . . . . .
Inventing Ways To Spend Taxes
The Following article appeared on this website last December. Pay attention to what this policy will add to YOUR taxes in the near future. Since when did a municipality set about upgrades that are not mandated by ANY level of senior government?
This council was so much putty in the hands of city staff last year (witness the shiny new office) that this is yet another strategy designed to insure the continued need of the local bureaucrats at city hall, who are no longer busy due to natural construction booms, so they are setting about to create one.
A skeptic might say the real motive is for the preservation of the bureaucracy, more than it has anything to do with public safety.
City Hall Will NEVER Stop Spending YOUR Money
I'm going out on a limb here and putting on my fortune tellers hat and gazing into my crystal ball as I put fingers to keyboard this day.
At the FPCOW meeting at city hall on Dec. 12, 2011 city hall staff presented the annual financial plan outlining the budget guesstimate for the next five years. Tucked away in the presentation is an item titled HSL (Higher Service Levels Requested) with the recommendation to fund "Seismic screening of City buildings"......... this is absolutely BRILLIANT and my hat is off to the senior bureaucrats at city hall with this one!!!
After finding out how easy it was to convince the last city council (five of which are incumbents) to build city staff a shiny new building because the existing one does not supposedly meet current seismic building standards a very creative method of growing the bureaucracy and having to raise and spend more taxes seems to have been devised.
The beauty of this new scheme is the fact the whole process whereby they can invent ways of needing to raise more taxes, employ more bureaucrats and engage in countless more studies and employ an army of more consultants, can all be done in secret away from public scrutiny through the much invoked 'in camera' process which city management and the old council have honed to a razors edge this past term!
Again, hats off to senior city hall managers for putting their heads together and coming up with a way to insure decades of work for themselves, and create reasons to levy and collect ever more taxes which will result in building programs needing oversight for years and years to come.
The taxpayers of Nanaimo can take confidence in the fact, their business is being overseen by such an astute city council and more than capable city hall management team, who were able to spend $16 million tax dollars on a shiny new office, using a questionable recommendation process, without ever having to make their decisions subject to public scrutiny.
This is the same team that gave us a $52 million conference centre (which should have included a hotel for that price) for the low low price of only $75 million! They also are the same group of capable managers who spent $16 million without ever going to public tender and have successfully kept all details hidden away from the public eye.
ALL ABOARD........the Seismic Screening EXPRESS will be leaving the station sometime in the new year...... courtesy of Mr. Kenning, Mr. Holmes and the 25th council of the city of Nanaimo.
PS: expect the spinning wheels at the local fourth estate to begin talking about the importance of public safety and the need to build or renovate all city buildings to insure public safety and of course the safety of our $60,000,000.00 city staff.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Nanaimo's Bad News Story
The Good News
Nanaimo is a community which clearly demonstrates it's care and concern for all of it's citizens and realizes that in spite of provincial welfare programs, and programs such as unemployment insurance, there are simply times when it was either 'rent or food' this month and rent came first.
According to the Loaves and Fishes website they have an annual budget of $1,000,000.00 and have seen 5300 people so far in 2012, that's 1 in 20 people in all of Nanaimo, 1,000 people visit each week, they have 8 depots across the city, 300 volunteers make it happen, were started in 1990.
They have continually expanded, moving into and upgrading facilities to meet rising demand for their services including an improved storage area which accommodates lift trucks making the whole operation much more efficient.
The city of Nanaimo recently approved a grant in the order of $65,000 which allows for the purchase of a large refrigerated truck to further improve their efficiencies.
The Bad News
Nanaimo seems to have a fully entrenched degree of poverty which the community is helpless to solve. It also points to serious deficiencies in our much beloved safety nets which on a provincial and federal level seem sadly lacking. With proper support vis a vis social welfare, why are people not able to keep up with the very basics of life such as food? The current level of social assitance would not appear to provide sufficient resources to keep body and soul together without relying on the charity of the local food bank. Something is wrong with that picture.
Back in 1990 I am sure many thought the Food Bank would be a temporary measure to just help people get over a rough patch, but even during the boom days in Nanaimo, the need for the food bank never diminished, it seemed to continue to increase if anything.
While the expansion of the facilities warehouse, the addtiion of lift trucks and now a refrigerated truck will all help the food bank better fill their role in the community, it really makes you wonder what we are doing so wrong, that food banks need to exist at all.
People on city council and city hall, will tell you how well we are doing, and how ever increasing taxes in Nanaimo are not to be worried about, but I wonder if they have considered that every time the city takes a dollar out of residents pockets, that is another dollar they don't have to give to the food bank, or to support a job creating business with.
Some Councillors may think city spending is not out of control, but I wonder if they really have the ability to assess economics with any degree of expertise?