Friday, January 31, 2014

COW Meeting Monday Feb.3, 2014


Committee of the Whole Meeting
Monday, Feb. 3 , 2014
4:30 PM Shaw Auditorium
Vancouver Island Conference Centre


  • Staff recommends spending $500,000 to replace backflow preventers on Protection Island
  • Arts and Cultural Festivals and Event Grants totaling $27,573 recommended
  • Cultural operating grant of $209,098 recommended
  • Bid to host 2016 Female U18 National Hockey Championship, cost $5,000
  • Waive fees for criminal records checks for 2014 BC Summer Games volunteers
  • Delegation asking to relax bylaws pertaining to harbouring animals in the City

    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 week's Council Meeting Agenda here - - -  Agenda .


     Some 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??

    Two 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! 





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    New Hope Centre Nanaimo - Helping Families

    New Hope Centre Helps Families

    In our community, there are families who struggle to make ends meet and fall short.  The New Hope Centre offers a number of services to assist these families.   Staff provides a friendly atmosphere where all are made to feel valued and welcomed.   Privacy is assured as each client meets with a community worker in an office.

    Rent takes the largest portion of the budget in low income households.  As a result  these families don't have enough money for food. The New Hope Centre Meal Program operates every day of the year and serves 75,000 meals annually.  Many families rely on this affordable program to meet their nutritional requirements.  Lunch is $1.00 and  dinner $2.00  per person.  Children under the age of 5 eat for free.  For those without  the financial means  to pay, the Centre provides meal tickets.

    Our  Emergency Food Hamper Program distributes  3,000 food hampers each year and the majority are given to families.  In addition, the annual six-week  Hamperville  Program operated by The Salvation Army & Loaves and Fishes  distributed 2,450 Christmas food hampers in 2013.  Thanks to the generosity of many and the hard work of 400 volunteers, 2,229 families  had food in their cupboard at Christmas.

    The New Hope Centre's laundry facilities is open to the public two days a week and a number of families access this service.  The fee to wash and dry a load of clothes is $1.00.    Laundry soap is provided without charge.

    Other services are available through the Centre.  There is a Voucher Program for those in need  to obtain clothing and small household articles at the Bowen Street Thrift Store.  If addiction is an issue for a family member, a drug/alcohol counsellor is on-site to assist with referrals to residential  treatment facilities.  The Giving Back Program offers a number of services provided by professionals who volunteer their expertise and  time.

    The New Hope Centre's ability to provide programs and services to families and individuals alike is possible because of the generous support of our community.

    The New Hope Centre is located at 19 Nicol Street, Nanaimo, Phone 250-714-1142

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    CFIB Calls For Exemption From MMBC


    CFIB calls on Premier Clark to exempt small business from new costly, confusing and ineffective waste regulations

    Vancouver, January 31, 2014 – As it wraps up its fifth annual Red Tape Awareness Week, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling on Premier Christy Clark to prevent an onslaught of costly red tape from hitting B.C’s small businesses, and increasing costs for consumers.

    The B.C. government passed legislation in 2012 forcing businesses to account for packaging waste, and have appointed an arms-length organization called Multi Material BC (MMBC) to enforce new regulations.

    Today, MMBC was recognized by CFIB as an “award” winner for Canada’s worst new red tape, earning the first-ever “Paperweight” Award. The government’s waste program goes into effect May 19th, and will impact thousands of small businesses and consumers with new fees and hidden taxes.

    MMBC’s website instructs businesses to consult their lawyers and regulatory affairs departments in order to comply with the new rules. Eighty per cent of B.C. businesses have fewer than five employees, and do not have regulatory affairs departments.

    “Getting small businesses off the hook for these ridiculous regulations is the first real test of this government’s commitment to small business,” says Laura Jones, CFIB Executive Vice President. “If B.C. is serious about maintaining its red tape leadership, it can’t give the power to a group like MMBC to impose rules that contradict the government’s own regulatory reform policy.”

    MMBC is governed by an Ontario-based board of multinational corporations such as Proctor and Gamble, Wal-Mart and Coca-Cola.

    Small businesses from across B.C. will be required to sort, weigh and track packaging material, and remit payments up to thousands of dollars annually to MMBC. Those costs will be passed on to B.C. consumers in the form of price increases.

    “Small businesses are already taking action to get greener and cleaner, and there is no evidence these rules will further environmental goals,” says Mike Klassen, B.C. Director of Provincial Affairs. “Last summer, MMBC promised changes to mitigate the impact on B.C.’s small and medium-sized enterprises, and asked for time to consult with small business. That time has run out and small businesses are still in the dark.”

    “It is the worst public policy in memory and small business needs to be exempted from it,” adds Klassen.

    Canadians are encouraged to show their support for CFIB’s Red Tape Revolution by signing the on-line petition (www.cfib.ca/rtaw) that will be delivered to governments.


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    Nanaimo Photo 1950's - 1960?


    This is an aerial image of Nanaimo taken from an old postcard circa late 50's? It is interesting to see the many changes to the Nanaimo waterfront in the past 6 decades, which is actually a fairly short time span.

    Of note, the high rise on Chapel Street does not exist and the waterfront of then is vastly different than it is today. Can you tell where Port Place Mall or the Cameron Island high rise now sits? A very identifiable landmark of course is the Bastion. Whether it is exactly where it currently rests is not known.

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    Pro Wrestling Returns To Nanaimo


    Featuring Nanaimo's own Bj Laredo, Cremator Von Slasher, Riea Von Slasher, Tony Baroni, Lak Siddartha, Sid Sylum, Eddie Osborne, Krofton and many more!

    Saturday, February 15 - 7:30 pm
    Departure Bay Activity Centre
    1415 Wingrove Street

    Advance Tickets $10.00
    At the door Tickets $15.00

    Tickets available by texting or calling 250-619-2216
    Also available at Popeye's Supplements 1C - 5779 Turner Rd.

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    Thursday, January 30, 2014

    What Does This Have To Do With City Wages?

    Vancouver House Prices
    Vancouver Median Home Price $670,000
    Nanaimo Median Home Price $329,000

    Nanaimo Firefighters are paid the same as Vancouver

    You may have recently noticed the IAFF's contract for Nanaimo firefighters included a hefty 5.5% raise and is only to the end of 2011. What does that have to do with Vancouver home prices?

    Well, sometime in the past unions were able to strong arm the provincial government into accepting wage parity for firefighters across the province. Hence, the firefighter living in Nanaimo is paid on par with the firefighter in Vancouver and they won't settle until they get it.

    Everyone loves a firefighter, they get our cats out of trees and are ready to save us from all manner of peril and in Nanaimo, they occasionally even put out fires. They are also first to roll when someone has a medical emergency and sometimes are needed when the ambulance doesn't arrive before them. All well and good, when they do have to work they in fact are an invaluable member of the community. Whether we need the number of fire stations and number of four man trucks at each station is another matter. Whether we also need as many officers in the system as we seem to have is yet another matter.

    This is budget time and we are looking at another city tax increase this year of at least 5%, likely more by the time you include RDN, NRGH and SD68. We are likely seriously underfunding our water, sewer and roads which means a tax increase that would cover our REAL costs would more likely be in the area of 15%.

    So, you have to ask yourself, can we really afford to be paying our firefighters the same wage as a firefighter is paid, living in Vancouver?

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    Nanaimo Weather Jan. 31 - Feb. 2


    In Nanaimo ......bright and sunny with a slight temperature drop

    Meanwhile in eastern Canada...............



    allvoices

    Nanaimo Recycle bins and Bags ..........

    How much recycled plastic is used in these products??
    100% I would hope.... anyone know?

    I would have to assume that none of these products are made from virgin resin, and are manufacturered entirely from recycled water bottles and such that we dutifully wash, sort, package and lug to the curb each week.

    From there someone else dutifully picks it up, drops it off some place else where it is sorted once again and then goes through a few more hands before most of it winds up in China, where the stuff they can't recycle goes into their landfill. Thus allowing us to claim some grand sounding 'diversion' rate. It seems when we claim we are diverting stuff from our landfill, it doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't end up in landfill, just not ours.


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    Environmentalism - the new religion for some?


    Stephen T. Asma a professor of philosophy at Columbia College Chicago in an essay titled 'Green Guilt' offers his observations on how the new religion of Environmentalism has replaced Christianity yet the religious emotions of guilt and indignation are still with us.

    He offers his opinion of some similar threads that are identifiable in both 'religions'.

    Now the secular world still has to make sense out of its own invisible, psychological drama—in particular, its feelings of guilt and indignation. Environmentalism, as a substitute for religion, has come to the rescue. Nietzsche’s argument about an ideal God and guilt can be replicated in a new form: We need a belief in a pristine environment because we need to be cruel to ourselves as inferior beings, and we need that because we have these aggressive instincts that cannot be let out.

    Instead of religious sins plaguing our conscience, we now have the transgressions of leaving the water running, leaving the lights on, failing to recycle, and using plastic grocery bags instead of paper. In addition, the righteous pleasures of being more orthodox than your neighbor (in this case being more green) can still be had—the new heresies include failure to compost, or refusal to go organic. Vitriol that used to be reserved for Satan can now be discharged against evil corporate chief executives and drivers of gas-guzzling vehicles. Apocalyptic fear-mongering previously took the shape of repent or burn in hell, but now it is recycle or burn in the ozone hole. In fact, it is interesting the way environmentalism takes on the apocalyptic aspects of the traditional religious narrative. The idea that the end is nigh is quite central to traditional Christianity—it is a jolting wake-up call to get on the righteous path. And we find many environmentalists in a similarly earnest panic about climate change and global warming. There are also high priests of the new religion, with Al Gore ("the Goracle") playing an especially prophetic role.

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    Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    Nanaimo Gas Price Check



    Prices January 29, 2014 12:00 Noon Gas Buddy


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    Cruise Ship Needed To House Workers


    Housing workers a real problem for Kitimat

    An article in the Globe and Mail reveals an innovative way to deal with a short term housing crisis as Kitimat has far more jobs than it has homes for the workers.

    Rio Tinto Alcan already has a 1700 bed work camp which is full to capacity and accommodations in Kitimat simply don't exist, so they are bringing in a 588 cabin ship to help relieve the housing crisis.

    The ship has 588 cabins, 4 restaurants and cafes, a sailors pub, casino, dance floor and sauna listed as some of the onboard amenities. It will employ about 100 crew members, with 20 of them coming with the ship, the rest being hired in British Columbia.

    The mayor of the resource town calls the situation desparate as the population of about 9,000 residents would double if LNG projects go ahead.

    The current worker/housing crunch is the result of Rio Tinto Alcan's $3.3 billion modernization and expansion of its smelter. 



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    Great platform or HUGE time-waster?


    The WTE plant controversy - facebook discussion

    In recent weeks I have participated in two different facebook 'groups', both of which were spawned by the controversy surrounding a potential energy from waste plant at Duke Point. If you were only following these two 'conversations' you would think this was the most important issue facing Nanaimo.

    Like many other things in Nanaimo there are very polarized views on the issue of using waste that can't be recycled as a fuel to heat boilers which produces steam that in turn generates electricity. The most vocal, organized camp seem to be opposed to most modern day conveniences and would prefer we were all peasant farmers eking out a living from the land. They have a hard time understanding why not all of us want to join in their lifestyle.

    A much larger, less vocal and far more disorganized group seem to recognize that regardless of how many times you repeat the mantra 'zero waste' it will not become a reality in our lifetime. This leaves us with the cold reality that in spite of our very best reduce, reuse and recycle efforts we are still going to produce a mountain of waste we can either bury in a landfill or convert to electricity.

    The 'optics' of being the trash-burning capital of BC aren't very inviting.
    Is that the reality of a modern day, state of the art EFW facility?

    The crowd opposed to just about everything will never be swayed regardless if Mr. Suzuki himself gave them his stamp of approval. There is a near religious-fervor in that camp that borders on pure fanaticism. There is nothing but wasted time you will never get back engaging this camp, their minds are simply closed tight! They have drunk the cool-aide.

    The crowd, I believe to be considerable, who are not necessarily opposed to the concept of energy from waste are most strongly opposed to the optics of being known as the place where Vancouver sends it's trash to be burned. Leaving us with deadly plumes of life-killing emissions that would discourage anyone from wishing to vacation or move here. If that is the reality of such a plant, I would say I fall squarely into that camp as well.

    The energy from waste industry is going to have it's work cut out for it if the concerns of the second group are to be overcome. I put myself in that camp. I will have to be convinced this facility does meet all rigid government emission standards and that ongoing monitoring of air quality will see those standards are strictly adhered to. If those concerns can be satisfied, I see the option of converting our waste to electricity rather than putting it into another massive dump as simply a no-brainer.

    Meanwhile back at facebook.....

    The waste from energy group in the beginning provided a worthwhile communications platform for the exchange of information, both pro and con EFW. However, it very soon degenerated into saying the same thing over and over again, quite often using completely outdated and irrelevant data to support forgone conclusions.

    After about day three all information either pro or con worth considering had been said, from that point on the useful communications platform had become the time sucking vortex, which I finally was able to pull myself out of, by withdrawing from the 'group'.

    A word of caution; just because you read something on the internet doesn't mean it is true. That became abundantly clear when you see graphics with simply unsupported claims parading as fact. Like they say, repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.

    GREAT COMMUNICATIONS PLATFORM?
    TIME-SUCKING VORTEX?
    I have found it to be both!

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    BC Ferries Hunger Strike - Make Gov't. Listen

     Hunger Strike hopes to pressure Liberal government

    To help draw attention that ferry dependent communities economies are starving directly associated with ferry service, www.ferryhostage.com launched a BC Ferries Hunger Strike on Monday Jan 20, 2014. It asks riders to buy no Ferry food Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to send a message where it counts, at the till. Hunger strike buttons are coming and riders are asked to do your part by sharing the hunger strike graphics on Facebook to get as many friends and families to not buy food anywhere BC Ferries sails.

    “It is wonderful that people are passionate enough to come to the ferry consultation meetings, write letters to the newspapers and to attend this past weekend’s protests on the Sunshine Coast. However we are still weak in the eyes of the political powers that be about ferry reform because we are not visible enough every day” says www.ferryhostage.com organiser Stephanie Clarke. “We are not organized anywhere close to the extent we should be to be effective and to apply pressure. This is hurting us.  We aren’t utilizing social media in a way that could dramatically widen our reach and increase our political potential.”

    If you are not on Facebook, for this you should be. www.Facebook.com/Ferryhostage should have likes in the thousands not in the hundreds and we should be visibly supporting other ferry reform advocates like www.facebook.com/FiscalFairness and www.bcferrycoalition.com

    “We could make some significant headway if we all did this with enough zero’s attached to it. At least 20% of our population in coastal communities should be connected to the issue this way.  If we were we could accomplish so much more.

    If you don’t like what is happening with ferry costs, policy and service; like something and like it on Facebook. This of course is not the answer but it is a start in getting our potential on this subject harnessed and will set us up to communicate on mass at the level that can apply real pressure”. It’s as easy as lifting a finger online.

    Our focus is on equitable transportation policy and fiscal fairness.

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    Tuesday, January 28, 2014

    May Long Weekend Fireworks Cancel?


    Empire Days Fireworks In Jeopardy Again?

    A recent article in the Bulletin quotes Empire Days Society president Nettley Mark as saying the society is coming up $15,000 short this year for the funding required to put on the popular May long weekend festivities. This means that once again the fireworks display may have to be cut.

    The Empire Days Parade has marked the start of the summer festival and events season in Nanaimo for years and years and packs the downtown with thousands of Nanaimoites for this popular event. This past year saw the society add family friendly events in Diana Krall Plaza which gave people another reason to come downtown in addition to the parade itself.

    This may be another example of some of the contradictions you see in Nanaimo when it comes to different groups operating in isolation. For example, festivals and events are being recognized as an economic driver in the city and are seen as a means of attracting tourists to our region. The DNBIA, NEDC, Chamber of Commerce and the city of Nanaimo all sing praises of events to attract those highly coveted tourist dollars to our community. Yet, there seems to be no support for this event which traditionally packs downtown for the parade and again for the fireworks display, all the result of the thousands of volunteer hours by members of the Society and the Lion's Club.

    Two years ago when the fireworks were cancelled for lack of funding, it was one of the topics that got more feedback on Nanaimo Info Blog than many other topics. People missed the fireworks and were upset they were not a part of the weekend.

    It would be hoped that the community would recognize the value of this major event and get behind the volunteers that make it happen.

    Businesses and private individuals wishing to support this popular, family-friendly event which kicks off the festival season in Nanaimo can contact Nettley Mark at nettleymark@hotmail.com or 250-751-8567 or Roy Linder at relinder@telus.net or 250- 758-2620.

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    Craig Richardson - Nanaimo's New Fire Chief


    New Fire Chief appointed to Nanaimo Fire Rescue

    The City of Nanaimo is pleased to announce the appointment of Craig Richardson as the Fire Chief of Nanaimo Fire Rescue (NFR) effective February 17, 2014.  Currently serving as NFR’s Deputy Chief of Operations, Richardson fills the position that is being vacated by retiring Chief, Ron Lambert.

    Chief Richardson began his career with Surrey (BC) Fire Department in 1990 and joined NFR as Assistant Chief in 2005.  He has a Masters Degree in Leadership & Training from Royal Roads University and, in addition to his firefighting experience, is an instructor for fire and emergency response in municipal and industrial fire departments throughout Canada and internationally.

    “This department’s greatest strength is its people”, said Chief Richardson.  “I’m very excited about the future and what we can achieve together”.

    “Chief Richardson’s proven experience and commitment to training are valuable assets for Nanaimo Fire Rescue”, said Nanaimo City Mayor, John Ruttan.  “I look forward to his continuing service in this critical leadership role”.

    There are no plans to fill the Deputy Chief of Operations position vacated by Richardson.  Those duties will be re-allocated within the current structure of NFR.

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    Nanaimo Internet-Based Crime Mapping


    Nanaimo Crime Mapping
    Nanaimo internet-based interactive crime map

    The Nanaimo detachment of the RCMP, working closely with City staff have developed an internet-based, interactive crime map hosted on the city's website.

    It displays information about property crime that has occurred within the City of Nanaimo. People using this service can view information about property crime including the type of crime, date and time reported, the nearest intersection or street block, neighbourhood name and RCMP file number.

    The information is updated weekly by the RCMP showing occurrences for the past six months. The information on the map will be "anonymized" by the RCMP by removing personal information and specific address details on each file.

    By clicking on an icon, users can find out what kind of crime has been occurring in a specific area with details of the crime and also a direct link to Crimestoppers.

    By being aware of a crime in their area, residents will perhaps become more vigilant and perhaps will report suspicious activity to the RCMP they may have previously ignored.

    This new service was explained to Nanaimo City Council at Monday's meeting by RCMP Insp. O'Donnell, Mr. Wellwood, RCMP Nanaimo Detachment and Mr. Stevens of the City's IT department. Constable O'Brien was also on hand to answer questions from Council

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    Nanaimo Arts Council Award Program


    NANAIMO ARTS COUNCIL SEEKS 
    ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNERS

    The Nanaimo Arts Council is accepting applications for its Achievement Award program until March 30, 2014.  The program provides financial aid for tuition, supplies and equipment to individuals furthering their studies in the arts at colleges, universities and educational workshops.  The awards are open to all areas of the arts: performing, literary, visual, etc.

    The Nanaimo Arts Council Achievement Award Program has given out over $51,000 to students in the Nanaimo area over the past sixteen years.  Selections are made on the basis of talent, achievements to date, potential, long range goals and benefit to the community.  Last year the Nanaimo Arts Council awarded a total of four thousand dollars to students for studies in graphic design, musical theatre, dance, vocal, jazz and theatre.

    A number of Nanaimo Arts Council’s Achievement Award winners have gone on to successful careers in the arts. Former recipients include a featured violinist with the Vancouver Island Sympathy, a solo concert pianist, a singer with the Canadian Opera Company, and two dancers currently working with Ballet BC.

    Application forms are available online at www.nanaimoartscouncil.ca, or the Nanaimo Arts Council gallery in Nanaimo North Town Centre. Applications must be submitted with all supporting documentation by March 30, 2014. Late entries will not be accepted.

    For more information, contact the Nanaimo Arts Council at 250-729-3947, or email admin@nanaimoartscouncil.ca.


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    Woodgrove Centre Munch & Movie Deal


    Munch and Movie
    MUNCH & MOVIE DEAL
    January 29 - March 27, 2014
    Wednesday & Thursday 5:00 - 9:00 PM

    Dine in the food court Wednesday and Thursday evenings and save on going to the movies! When you spend $10 before taxes you can buy an Avalon movie pass for only $5.00 or spend $15 before taxes and the movie pass is FREE.

    Note: Same day Woodgrove Centre food court receipts to be presented at Guest Services between 5 - 9 pm. Limited time offer. Avalon movie pass is valid for any day of the week (3D movies not included).

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    More Good News For Downtown Nanaimo



    TimberWest Announces Relocation to 
    Downtown Nanaimo

    TimberWest is pleased to announce the relocation of its Nanaimo office to Port Place in downtown Nanaimo this spring. The new location will provide TimberWest’s employees on southern Vancouver Island with a more collaborative and innovative workspace that is scalable and allows room for growth. With this move, TimberWest will be one of the largest private sector employers in downtown Nanaimo.

    Consistent with TimberWest's corporate values around the environment, the new office building has been built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver building standards. LEED is a rating system that is recognized as the international mark of excellence for green building in over 132 countries.

    TimberWest has made a long term commitment for the new office space, which is located on the top floor of the recently completed Port Place building. Port Place is located in the heart of downtown Nanaimo’s business community and provides easy access to transportation.

    “Our new office will be open and bright, creating a space highly conducive to teamwork,” said Brian Frank, President and CEO of TimberWest. “This move to Port Place reflects our commitment to the City of Nanaimo and to Vancouver Island.”

    The move is being welcomed by the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, whose mandate it is to support the development of a prosperous community through economic opportunity.

    “Economic development is not just about attracting new business, but supports the advancement and expansion of those businesses that have made Nanaimo their home,” said Sasha Angus, CEO of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation. “We are very excited and thankful for TimberWest’s continued growth in our community.”

    TimberWest recently celebrated its 20th year in sustainable forest land management, and its activities in Nanaimo and Coastal BC support over 1,000 jobs.

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    Monday, January 27, 2014

    RCMP Warning - Area of Frank Ney Elementary

    The Nanaimo RCMP has issued a warning to the public after two incidents in the past two weeks where an older man followed a nine-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy in the area of Frank Ney Elementary school.

    Mounties say there was no attempt to touch or communicate with either child.

    The most recent incident occurred on Friday Jan. 24 at 12:30 p.m.

    The young girl told police she was followed by a man as she walked across the soccer fields at Harry Whipper park. She told her parents she saw the man walking on the soccer fields and when she picked up her pace, so did he. The man was never closer than 50 meters to her and did not communicate with her at anytime. When she got to Renee Place, the man was gone. He is described as being in his 60′s, 5 ft 9 with short grey hair, wearing a grey t-shirt and blue jeans.

    This incident follows a similar report on Friday Jan. 10 involving a 12 year old boy.

    The boy said at approximately 8:15 a.m.,  he was on his scooter and was taking the path that connects Entwhistle Drive to Frank Ney Elementary,  when he was  followed by a man of similar description. The man got out of a white truck with a “wooden fence style box”. The boy described the man as being in his 60′s, with grey hair, a moustache, wearing a toque, dark jeans and a black and grey checkered jacket. Again, police say no contact was made and nothing was communicated to the boy.

    “This may be an individual residing in the area out for a walk or there may be something to it. Nevertheless, an investigator has been assigned to look into both occurrences,” said Constable Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.

    Police are asking if the public knows who this man is, to contact the Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-847.

    In the interim, police say parents should be a little more cautious and keep an eye on their children while walking to and home from school. The inherent risks of stranger contact should also be discussed.

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    Things On The Net That Make Ya' Smile

    Wonder if any Nanaimo neighbourhoods would be interested???

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    Nanaimo City Taxes - Affordable? Sustainable?



    City Hall Has The Whole Process Upside Down
    And City Council Seems to Agree With Them

    I have sat in on six or seven of the new budget process sessions where council is being educated by staff about the intricacies of running each department in the city. It is all very interesting, and very helpful if you were wanting to know how to manage each department in the city, but pretty pointless when it comes to determining affordable levels of taxation in the city.

    The Current Process is Upside Down...

    Right now, city staff (whose job security depends on providing services) determine how many more of these services they think the average Nanaimo taxpayer wants them to provide. The strategic plan's misuse is another way of justifying their 'wish list'. They make up a list along with corresponding costs and determine from that what the tax increase has to be in order to provide these increased levels of service.

    Once that has been determined a budget is struck, complete with what is considered an 'acceptable' level of tax increase, which council then dutifully gives their stamp of approval. The result is another 20 - 25% property tax increase over the next five years, a 25% increase in water fees in the same time. This is on top of increased taxes for the RDN, NRGH and SD68, all of which are added to the increase determined by the city.

    In years past, in order to fund pet projects, such as new staff offices and staff wage increases, taxes were deliberately not increased sufficiently to properly fund water, sewer and roads. A fact seemingly lost of our city council brain trust. Rolling industrial taxes back by 50% also resulted in increasing the burden to the residential taxpayer. It was also another excuse for improper funding of water, sewer and roads.

    There seems to be no real priority set when it comes to determining how tax dollars will be spent in accordance with the importance within the community. By that I mean, if water, sewer and roads don't trump shiny new staff offices and nice pay raises, something is really wrong with the system.

    Affordable?? Sustainable?? Who Says??

    One of the mantras you will hear coming from city staff is that the budget increases are affordable and sustainable. How that conclusion is reached has always been a mystery. Some councilors will justify that opinion by claiming there is no tax fatigue in Nanaimo, an opinion held by Councilor Brennan. Yet, their own Ispos Reid survey indicates that nearly 50% of those taking the survey do think their taxes are as high as they can afford now.

    With a regular household budget, everyday taxpayers know how much money they have coming in each week/month/year and then prioritize how to spend that money, when the money runs out we are forced to stop spending. The city of Nanaimo on the other hand figures out how much money they want to spend and then adjust their income to compensate. They simply determine the amount of taxes needed to satisfy their wish list and dig a little deeper into YOUR pocket.

    How do they determine affordable or sustainable? They don't. I can say with reasonable certainty that Mayor Ruttan in his sixth year is not going to anything other than get out the rubber stamp once again and listen to staff without ever asking the taxpayer what is affordable and what should be paid for first.

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    Dragons' Den Auditions January 31, Nanaimo

    Nanaimo Auditions
    January 31, 2014
    11:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Vancouver Island Conference Centre



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    Nanaimo Culture & Heritage Meet & Greet



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    Sunday, January 26, 2014

    Nanaimo photographer's fine art website


    Dragonflydreams88.com

    Nanaimo photography website

    Local photo artist, Sheryl Falls has put together a sampling of her work on her new website at www.dragonflydreams88.com. The local photographer has been 'stalking shadows and stealing light' for many years now on this beautiful Island. Until now the only place her images could be viewed was on her Flickr page where she has accumulated over 3100 images.

    Seeing the world through her eyes is a pleasant way to spend a bit of time 'surfing the net'. Click the above image to view her new website or to visit her Flickr page use this link.

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    This IS Nanaimo - Like it or not


    Photo credit: S. Falls www.dragonflydreams88.com
    Does our future include this kind of industry?
    What does the future look like without it?

    The recent furor over the unlikely possibility that an energy from waste plant might be located at Duke Point puts a focus on something our leaders need to consider as they plot Nanaimo's course into the next generation. Do we want industry? If so, what kind?

    Those opposed to industry if it has any kind of environmental impact perhaps see Nanaimo as some seaside resort community famous for it's clean air and pristine shorelines, parks and trails. If so, perhaps Qualicum or Ucluelet or even Tofino might be their ideal as a model for Nanaimo to emulate. That ideal may be desirable for those fortunate enough to retire here with a comfortable retirement portfolio, or perhaps those lucky enough to hold one of the many well-paid government jobs, which arguably are the backbone of the Nanaimo economy.

    Can Nanaimo survive and thrive as a tourist destination?

    The notion that Nanaimo needs not entertain any medium to heavy industry but rather can rely on it's natural surroundings to make us a tourist Mecca would seem to ignore the facts. We are NOT Victoria, we are NOT Ucluelet, we are NOT Tofino, we are NOT even Chemainus, Parksville or Campbell River for that matter in the tourism department. To think we are is to entertain some grand delusion and simply ignores reality. We are a lovely place to visit, we do have many delightful amenities to enjoy but we are NOT a tourist destination centre where folk may want to come and spend a week or two.

    The fact is, the Cruise Ship industry doesn't seem to find Nanaimo a very interesting place to stop for a day, as witnessed by our plummeting cruise ship numbers. The number of cruise ships choosing Nanaimo as a Port of call has been steadily in decline from a high of 13 to the current level of only 2 this year. Cruise ships stop in interesting ports which tourists find interesting and attractive. They are not choosing Nanaimo, so let's simply accept that fact and move on.

    Should our industrial park include industry of all types?

    Duke Point Industrial Park is a prime piece of real estate, perfectly situated for guess what, industry! It can accommodate a deep sea port, it has immense potential for handling freight coming into and leaving the west coast of Canada. It is the perfect gateway for the steady stream of freight onto and off of Vancouver Island, eventually removing the need to move truck freight through the middle of downtown. I presume there are some who would argue that even these uses are not compatible with their idea of the perfect Nanaimo.

    I grew up in southern Ontario in the 50's (just after the Ark landed) and the reality of industry and smoke stacks was just a fact of life. One thing all of that industry provided, was a good standard of living for everyone. Perhaps that is why I view putting real industry in our industrial park as something worth considering. I am not suggesting coal fired, smoke belching industry, but I am suggesting being open to the idea of modern day industry, which may have some unavoidable environmental impact. When a natural gas fired electrical generation plant was finally nixed for Duke Point a few years back it really left me shaking my head. Imagine, having a source of hydro for Vancouver Island that is not dependent upon underwater cables coming from the mainland? Imagine, some good paying, family supporting jobs in our industrial park?

    Are hotels and more condos the way to prosperity?

    I presume that our civic leaders think all economic activity is considered favourable, and that all growth is considered favourable. The answer to that question is for much higher level thinking, than my thinker is capable of, however I do have some reservations as to whether growth for growth's sake is all it is cracked up to be.

    How much the local economy improves because we build a new hotel or more condos is a question to ponder. Does the local economy improve and accrue benefits to current residents simply because we add to our numbers?

    We are already facing what we are told is a looming water crisis by 2020 when we won't have enough water to service the expected growth. Our current infrastructure is being underfunded by millions of dollars every year. The Cedar dump only has about 15 years left before it needs closing costing millions of dollars, and a multimillion dollar solution needs to be found.

    A simple thought from a simple fellow, but if growth is supposed to be good for the economy, how come we are paying more and more taxes and not receiving anymore services than we did years ago?



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    Tourism Nanaimo Provides Grants


    TOURISM NANAIMO PROVIDES 
    TOURISM DEVELOPMENT FUND GRANTS

    Nanaimo: Tourism Nanaimo has disbursed funds from its Tourism Development Fund to three different organizations. The Nanaimo Science & Sustainability Society (NS3) $20,000, Summertime Blues Festival $5,000 and Nanaimo Mountain Bike Club $4,950.

    The Tourism Development Fund established earlier this year to help grow tourism products in the community. Eligible projects must drive increased overnight visitation to Nanaimo & Region with a tie back to the Tourism Strategic Plan.

    “These funds will be invaluable towards completing our "Fine China" trail,” says Bill McMillan Director of the Nanaimo Mountain Bike Club. “Our resources are limited. Funding will be dedicated to trail development. As a result, Nanaimo will soon boast a world class dedicated bicycle flow track that will help draw visitors to the Nanaimo Area!”

    With help from Tourism Nanaimo, the NS3 is creating an interim science centre for Nanaimo.  “Financial support from Tourism Nanaimo will enable the NS3 to work with TELUS World of Science to design and build hands-on exhibits specific for NS3’s science centre” said Liz DeMattia, NS3 co-founder and Executive Director.

    “The TDF will assist the Nanaimo Blues Society in bringing a clarified vision for the "Summertime Blues" by focusing on how to best manage the festival going forward,” says Gerold Haukenfers, President of the Nanaimo Blues Society. “The feasibility study will enable to NBS to develop the "Summertime Blues" a destination place for world class blues for both musicians and music lovers.”

    “The Tourism Leadership Committee is very excited to make these grants available to the community to help grow the tourism product in our region” said Dan Brady, Chair of the Tourism Leadership Committee.

    2013 was the inaugural year for the Tourism Development Fund nearly $64,100 distributed to community organizations.  The balance of the TDF dollars for 2013 will be rolled into the 2014 intake. The first 2014 intake closes February 10, 2014. Applications are available at TourismNanaimo.com.

    Tourism Nanaimo is a division of the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation whose mission is to build a prosperous community through economic opportunity.


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    Ron Lambert Retiring February 14, 2014

    City’s Fire Chief set to retire in February

    Ron Lambert, Nanaimo’s Fire Chief for the past 13 years, is retiring February 14, 2014, the City of Nanaimo announced today.  Chief Lambert started with the City as a fire fighter 32 years ago and progressed through various fire fighting and fire management positions, culminating with his appointment to Fire Chief in May of 2000.

    Chief Lambert has been in the forefront of numerous positive changes to Nanaimo’s Fire Rescue Department and the City.  As well as being responsible for ensuring that top quality fire services are provided to the City, he has worked with fire suppression, rescue, inspection and emergency program management staff to maintain and enhance services for all citizens in Nanaimo.

    Chief Lambert’s achievements include promoting a stronger business response to the Fire Department, including an expanded data base/retrieval system, standard response times, fire plan, growth of the emergency management program and emergency response academy.  He also strongly focused on training, staff development and working with IAFF staff to provide and promote safety throughout Nanaimo. 

    “Chief Lambert has a long history of service with the City of Nanaimo and has played a major role in the evolution of our Fire Rescue Department and the protection it provides our community”, said Nanaimo City Mayor, John Ruttan.  “I wish Ron all the best in his well earned retirement”.

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    Saturday, January 25, 2014

    Nanaimo Shipyard Sold For Development?



    Stewart Avenue waterfront is changing
    Another industry closes

    The Nanaimo Shipyard has been a fixture on Stewart Avenue for as long as I can remember but seems to have fallen victim to changing times. It is currently in the process of selling off equipment and the owner is apparently negotiating the sale of the desirable property to what is expected to be developers with undisclosed plans for the property.

    The Shipyard's immediate neighbour to the south, which used to be the Moby Dick motel has been undergoing a transformation for sometime now with the recent addition of docks on the waterfront. The sign on the property bills the location as The WATERFRONT Suites & Marina. "Nanaimo's Premiere Marina" with a suggested opening date of January 2014.

    The closure of the shipyard is just further evidence of the changing face of Nanaimo's waterfront. Whether the city's ten year tax holiday is something encouraging some of this growth is an unknown at the moment.

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    Another Winter Day In Nanaimo

    Brave Souls Face Winter Challenge
    Sunscreen and Sunglasses Are Required


    Once again Nanaimo residents had to be careful not to overheat by taking a stroll near the water, taking advantage of the moderating effects of the balmy ocean breezes.

    Even Mt. Benson is not wearing it's customary top cap of snow this year as very spring-like temperatures are making for another most enjoyable winter in beautiful Nanaimo, the Sunporch of Canada. Canadian Tire is still being force-shippped snow blowers which are once more collecting dust on the showroom floor, right along side the snow shovels and sidewalk salt.

    Looks like the blue skies will be hanging around for several more days, so be sure to get out an enjoy them. Also be sure to resist phoning friends or relatives unfortunate enough to be living in other parts of Canada. Gloating just isn't good manners!

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    BC Ferries Departure Bay Parking Lot Full

    Updated as of 10:20 am January 25, 2014

    Please be advised that the Pay Parking facility at Departure Bay is currently full to capacity due to high foot passenger volume.

    For traffic updates or more information please call us toll free at 1-888-BCFERRY (223-3779), check our website at www.bcferries.com or go to mobile.bcferries.com on your mobile device.

    BC Ferries apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause.

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    Fringe Flicks - Haute Cuisine Jan, 26 - 27

     Haute Cuisine

    Director: Christian Vincent
    Cast: Frot, Arthur Dupont, Jean d'Ormesson
    France, 2012. 95 mins. Subtitled.
    Jan. 26 - 27 Avalon Cinema

    Based on the real-life story of the personal chef to former French president François Mitterrand, Haute Cuisine uses the politically charged kitchen and corridors of the Élysée Palace as an exquisite backdrop to a nonstop parade of mouthwatering dishes in the tradition of classic French cuisine. French favourite Catherine Frot gives a spirited performance alongside newcomer Jean d’Ormesson—an accomplished writer making his screen debut at age eighty-seven—in this deliciously French comedy.

    “Though a woman of Hortense's cool elegance would never say it, she has a heck of a ride as Mitterand's chef, and it's fun to be along for it.” - RogerEbert.com

    “Don’t expect life-or-death drama in Haute Cuisine; one of the biggest points of tension stems from a kerfuffle over cream cheese. Yet this French film, based on the true story of the French president’s first female chef, offers plenty of simple pleasures.” – Washington Post




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    Lions FREE Skate January 26, 2014



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    Are In-Camera Approvals Always Needed?

    Do Land Transactions Always Require In-Camera Decisions?

    The common song that comes from city hall when more openness and transparency is called for, is that when dealing with land transactions (being one of the 3-L's) secrecy is needed to protect the interests of the city.

    While I get the need for secrecy if the city is desiring to secure a purchase at the best price, I am not convinced that secrecy is automatically warranted which is the default position of this council.

    25 Victoria Road, a shining example of a bad decision

    You may recall a number of years ago city council decided to buy the old building at 25 Victoria Road to placate the arts and culture community led by Camila Tang. This is the building that has become a first class money pit which is just a black hole for tax dollars.

    The purchase of that building was done in secret, I suspect as much to avoid public scrutiny as to protect the interests of the city. City hall watchers will know how decisions being made to satisfy an organized, noisy minority can result in Councillors making decisions that clearly are not in the interest of the city as a whole. The cynic in me, thinks it is just the promised political clout, and voting support that resulted in this council blowing another $200,000 on that building in a decision of very questionable use of your tax dollars.

    Councilor Greves for example went from saying 'tear the building down' to 'I wish we could give you the full $800,000' after a few months of back-room arm bending by the arts group using 25 Victoria Road.

    Taxpayers should have been asked before that deal was ever made!

    There is no reason that the decision to purchase 25 Victoria Road had to be finalized in secret. Council could have chosen then, and can choose now to make an offer to purchase contingent upon council approval being made in an open council meeting.

    That way the public can have a say as to what they think of the deal, rather than having deals being made with YOUR tax dollars. Under that scenario we might have bought Dunsmuir Place for far less than we ended up spending on that shiny new $16 million staff office.

    Wellcox property another example of a poor decision?


    While city council and in fact most people think the purchase of a prime piece of downtown waterfront which some refer to as the last frontier, is a good idea and a sound investment, I'm not so sure those same folk would agree we needed to take on the liability of the trestle and road to property we don't own was a good idea.

    That is a deal I can't imagine someone using their own money would have made, But again we have civil servants making marketplace deals with other people's money and their is no public oversight until the deal is done. By then of course it is too late and we are stuck with what arguably was not the best possible deal.

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    BC Ferries Departure Bay - Horseshoe Bay Cancellations

     Departure Bay - Horseshoe Bay Cancellations

    Update as of 12:30 pm:

    Please be advised that the Queen of Cowichan has cancelled the following sailings due to mechanical difficulties:

    3:00 pm departing Departure Bay (Nanaimo)
    5:00 pm departing Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver)
    7:00 pm departing Departure Bay (Nanaimo)
    9:00 pm departing Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver)

    The following extra sailings will be performed by the Coastal Inspiration between Duke Point
     (Nanaimo) and Tsawwassen (Vancouver):

    5:45 pm departing Duke Point (Nanaimo)
    8:15 pm departing Tsawwassen (Vancouver)

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    Friday, January 24, 2014

    Robbie Burns Day January 25

    Robert Burns (1759 -1796)
    Scotland's Favourite Son
    Robert Burns was born at Alloway, near Ayr, on January 25, 1759. His father William was a gardener to the Provost of Ayr. Robert was educated briefly at John Murdoch's school in Alloway and later in Ayr. 
    Family financial worries forced Burns to work as a farm labourer, and it was while thus occupied that he met his first love, Nelly Kirkpatrick. She inspired him to try his hand at poetry, a song entitled "O, once I lov'd a bonnie lass", set to the tune of a traditional reel. 
    If you research Rabbie's poetry there are no fewer than 579 poems online attributed to the Ploughman Poet, Robden of Solway Firth, the Bard of Ayrshire or simply the Bard.
    He had an eye for the ladies apparently having fathered 8 children with 5 different lasses, he did marry one in 1788 and Jean Armour became Mrs. Burns.
    I tried to read many of his poems, but sadly the ones I found written in 1700 Scots dialect were just too much for me to understand. However, it is impossible to not see the quality that has endeared him these many years.
    Among his many works there is one little poem you don't have to be Scots to be familiar with, you may have heard of "Auld Lang Syne"? If the spelling has you wondering, I'll give you a hint; it is very popular on New Year's Eve.

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    Jean Crowder MP Will Not Run Again


    Jean Crowder issued this statement

    After ten years as the Member of Parliament for Nanaimo-Cowichan, I’ve decided that I will not be putting my name forward for re-election when the next federal election is called. 

    I am very honoured to have been elected to serve the people of Nanaimo-Cowichan, and I’d like to thank my constituents for giving me this opportunity. There is still much work to be done in Ottawa, and so this has not been an easy decision, but I am not running again in order to spend more time with my family and the community that I love.

    When I was first elected in 2004, the NDP caucus in Ottawa had just 19 members. I’ve had the privilege of being part of a period of historic growth for our party, serving under the leadership of Jack Layton and Tom Mulcair. I am very proud of the work that our NDP team has done, and I look forward to the day we have an NDP government in Ottawa.

    I will continue to work for my constituents with the energy, enthusiasm and dedication with which I’ve served them these past ten years. I look forward to electing a New Democrat here in 2015 to continue to work hard for this community.

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    Nanaimo Government Spending Tops $400 Million



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    Thursday, January 23, 2014

    Nanaimo City Council Meeting - January 27, 2014


     
    City Council Meeting
    Monday January 27, 2014
    7:00 PM Shaw Auditorium
    Vancouver Island Conference Centre

    • Sasha Angus, NEDC, presentation Highlights & Economic Update
    • Mr. Dave Witty, presentation South Downtown Waterfront Committee (Wellcox Property)
    • Development permit 1815 Bowen Road
    • Development variance permit 1449 Princess Royal Ave.
    • Resolutions Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities
    • List of quarterly direct award purchases
    • Extension of SAP support contract for three years - $280,800
    • Strategic Plan Implementation Progress report
    • Governance Steering Committee Terms of Reference
    • Internet based public crime mapping.....
    • RCMP quarterly report July to Sept. 2013

        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 .


         Some 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??

        Two 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! 





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        Is Life In Nanaimo All This Risky?

        The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
        H. L. Mencken

        Local Daily Paints Pretty Scary Picture

        The above stories are based in fact of some kind. Is the picture of the risk painted by living in Nanaimo as high as you might conclude from reading them? Are the headlines just designed to sell papers? Are they reports and opinions put out by bureaucrats in the interest of their own job security. Are they marketing ploys by insurance companies wanting us to be stampeded to the disaster insurance counter? Or is much of this the result of high level lobbying by the engineering and construction firms who run out of work unless they can condemn and rebuild existing buildings?

        If a bad earthquake hits could our buildings fail? Of course. If the dams burst, could we drown? Of course. If a truck or rail car carrying hazardous cargo blows up, do we have a big problem? Of course.If an asteroid struck the city, would we all be toast? Of course. If I get hit by a bus, am I in peril? Of course.

        Question?

        How much time and emotional energy should I put into pondering the possible outcome of any of the above events? What is the probability of any of these events happening? Remember those scary dams in Harewood, in their present state have a 1:500 year chance of failure, and a 1:3000 year chance of failure. Now, really, is that peril something we need to be making all this fuss about? Or should we just get on with another enjoyable day, living in the best city, in the best part of Canada doing our little part to improve upon that?

        Just Send Henny Penny Packin'


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        2.66 Tons of Clothing Collected for Salvation Army


        2.66 Tons of clothing 
        donated to the Salvation Army 
        at Woodgrove Mall

        The community answered The Salvation Army’s call for donations during Woodgrove Centre’s 11-day Clothing Drive. 5,325 lbs or 2.66 tons of gently used clothing was donated January 9 – 19, 2014 filling the water clock fountain.

        The Salvation Army Thrift Store Advisor, Kim Maandag shared, “I would like to thank everyone who donated to support The Salvation Army. It truly makes a difference and we could not do the work we do without such amazing generosity.”

        Salvation Army Thrift Store Advisor Kim Maanday (right) and Nola Dunn, Woodgrove Centre's marketing director.

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        Nanaimo City Staff Wages - The Sacred Cow

        As everyone knows we are now into the budgeting process, although with the new format the city has adopted this year, they are greatly reducing the opportunity for public scrutiny or input. By design? Less scrutiny of this council may be seen as their best chance for re-election.

        In years past we would have been presented with the draft budget in Dec. sometime and there would have been the opportunity at every council meeting until May to offer input into the budget. With this new process this year, we are not likely going to see the finished product until April which will greatly limit the opportunity for public scrutiny.

        From observation of this council and Mayor Ruttan's previous council, it is most unlikely city council will do anything but get out the old rubber stamp and approve whatever staff tells them they need to spend.

        City Staff Wages ------ The Sacred Cow

        Even though city staff wages and benefits consume 80% of every dollar collected in taxes, this city council will likely approve another 2% - 3% wage increase, just to keep the peace even though some of the wage rates are clearly well above the private sector for equivalent work. The wage increases city council has given city staff has also consistently outstripped the consumer price index.

        Example of the five lowest paid jobs at city hall based on the current pay scale
        (based on 37.5 hr. work week and nothing added for benefits or sick pay or holidays)


        $862.50/wk -- $44,850/yr. no job descriptions for this level.

        $900.00/ wk -- $46,800/yr - clerk or labourer

        $937.50/wk -- $48,750/yr - cashier

        $975.00/wk -- $50,700/yr - water meter reader

        $1012.50/wk - $52,650/yr - zamboni driver


        $560.32/wk -- $29,137/yr - Nanaimo City Councilor

        Don't expect a wage freeze policy from this council....

        This council simply has no political will to address the issue of city hall wages. Why? For one reason no one wants the labour disruption the union threatens to bring if they can't negotiate a new contract to their liking. Several city councilors are heavily supported by labour unions, so their decisions should be no great mystery.

        Exempt staff at city hall (non-union) can expect to give themselves a raise in keeping with what council settles on for union workers. So really there is no one who has any vested interest in trying to hold the line on staff wages and benefits.

        These kind of employers (government sector) are the last bastion of organized labour in Canada and they pretty much can get what they demand, as the market pressures that force private business to hold the line, simply doesn't exist when bargaining with the city. After all, it is an easy matter to cover another million or so in wages, just increase taxes. Simple!

        That might be more acceptable if we weren't already paying someone with no particular skill set $44,750 per year just for showing up and someone trained to read water meters is paid $50,700/yr. These kind of wage levels are only available in the public sector, how much longer they are sustainable is the $64,000 question no one on city council can tell you.

        Bloated government wages have brought down governments...

        Follows is a paragraph from a McLeans article, 'The $100,000 club: Who's really making big money these days', which makes it clear that bloated government payrolls are not limited to the city of Nanaimo.

        In Canada, the good life no longer belongs only to those who graduated from competitive professional programs, or built their own businesses, or came into family money. It now belongs to those who take stable and well-protected government jobs. But, as in Europe, where bloated public sector payrolls have brought down governments, in Canada, too, these trends are coming home to roost.
                   

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