Thursday, September 18, 2014

More Vote Pandering With Tax Dollars??

$6.6 Million For Port Theatre Expansion

In an 8 - 1 vote, council voted on a motion put forward by Councillor Pattje to commit $6.6 million to the Port Theatre expansion project at the Sept. 8 city council meeting.

This happens to be the one council meeting in the past year I missed, as sadly I had to spend some time on Saltspring Island away from streaming video, so I missed the entire event.

My understanding is that Pattje's motion was brought during the meeting with no advance notice which might have allowed a delegation to speak to the matter who might object to this commitment at this time. I am sure the entire community might want to know where $6.6 million is coming from before being committed to it.

It is likely this item would get the approval of Nanaimo residents as it has been promoted as a much needed addition in our community, It would be nice however, if we knew that for sure, and a referendum this November would be a sure way of knowing.


Referendums have an upside and a downside like most things we undertake in governance. The downside of course is the cost, the upside is the fact you give the people paying the freight an opportunity to have a say before spending millions and millions of tax dollars. I think some thought should be given to setting a dollar amount that would automatically trigger a referendum for items not already in the budget.

There are now three items that could be decided by referendum as part of the upcoming civic election which would allow the entire community to make their wishes known.

Those items include the Port Theatre Expansion $6.6 million, the Linley Valley purchase $9 million and the Georgia Park lease to the Hilton Hotel developer, while we are at it, perhaps the Colliery Dams could also be included.

I doubt if it would cost that much during an election time to include multiple items on the ballot and that would give the community a chance to PARTICIPATE in decisions effecting spending of their tax dollars.


Of course the idea that the community needs to have a say at any time other than election time is not popular with the majority of this council, and certainly seems unpopular with the current city manager.

I realize we can not put every single item to referendum as that would make the already slowly grinding wheels at city hall come to a complete stop, but I believe they do have a place for matters of significance and as stated earlier when a certain level of spending is involved.

As it now stands, if a project is being financed with long term borrowing (more than 5 years) it MUST go to referendum regardless of the dollar amount borrowed. However, if council chooses to repay a loan in less time there is virtually no limit to how much they could vote to spend provided it is repaid within 5 years. The source of repayment of course would be a large tax increase to repay the debt.

I invite your comments on the issue.



  1. The city as any other government needs to be transparent so that the residents can make decisions about who is good to keep in council and who to send packing. They need to go to referendums with any venue loved and used by residents and they need to be very clear about it.

  2. Oh come on! My taxes go up and up and up and no one at City Hall listens to people like me! I don't have an endless supply of money lying around. I have to save for retirement. We don't need to spend $6.6 million on a theater. We have more important things in this community to spend that money on.

    Won't someone please listen to the taxpayer for once?


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