Yard Waste, Illegal Dumping, Rats and Donald Duck

The RDN has launched a new campaign to bring awareness to the problem of illegal dumping. What are they doing? What more can be done?

Illegal dumping is a huge problem on Vancouver Island. Sick of the destruction, many people have taken the task of cleaning up illegal dump sites themselves.

In 2016, the RDN recovered over 35 tonnes of illegally dumped material. Pursuant to RDN Bylaw No. 1386, those who generate,  deliver or abandon waste illegally can be subject to a fine of up to $200,000.

Illegal dumping includes but is not limited to:

  • household garbage
  • yard and garden clippings
  • construction and demolition waste
  • furniture, appliances etc.

Why do people dump illegally?

There are two main reasons people don’t drop off their waste at the landfill:

  1. dumping fees
  2. hours of operation

One of the biggest obstacles to residents is the cost of dumping. For example in Nanaimo there is a minimum charge of $5 to dump off yard waste at the NRE on Kenworth Drive. For a small truck the charge is $10 or for a trailer full it’s $15.

In other municipalities residents can drop off yard waste free of charge. The Regional District of North Okanagan accepts yard and garden waste FREE OF CHARGE year round at all RDNO Recycling and Disposal Facilities.

Then there is the added inconvenience of having to drive to a recycling facility. The one on Kenworth Drive is full of potholes and the road is terrible after a rain. No wonder people are “losing” their yard waste somewhere over the fence. How many people are just putting yard waste into their garbage cans which further adds to the landfill?

The solution is to make dumping free and convenient.

Invasive Plant Infestations

The Columbia Shuswap Invasive Species Society (CSISS) has discovered new sites where yard waste dumping has led to invasive plant infestations – both within regional landfills and at illegal dumping sites. Some invasive plants such as knotweed or ivy can re-sprout from small stem or root fragments.

The biggest question we have to ask ourselves is what kind of community do we want to live in? You either pay people to patrol rural areas looking to catch illegal dumpers or you take the same amount of money or even less and let people drop off their yard waste for free.

Also, when people throw their lawn clippings over the back fence or dump plants and prunings in the bush, the piles of green waste become breeding grounds for rats.

Reward Program

In Richmond, BC they have a reward program for citizens who report illegal dumping.  Citizens can collect $200 on the conviction of a dumper.

Garbage and Recycling App

Recently, the City of Nanaimo announced that they have acquired an app which would remind residents when to put out their garbage and recycling. What wasn’t mentioned was how much they paid a Vancouver tech firm, ReCollect to do it. The RDN also used the same company to answer a few basic questions on their website.

ReCollect digitized garbage collection schedules and maps in order to enable citizens to download it into their calendar or set up a recurring email reminder. ReCollect has made a hefty profit at basically no cost to themselves by using open source data – something an RDN staff member or a summer student could have done.

Donald Duck Litterbug

Everyone has met a ‘Donald Duck Litterbug’ but there is still hope for their offspring. If you see any dumping happening or has already occurred, report it to Solid Waste Services by calling 250-390-6560, 1-877-607-4111 (toll-free) or you can call the BC hotline Report All Poachers and Polluters at 1-877-952-7277 (#7277 from cellphones).

Nanaimo Waterfront Walkway; Dangerous intersection; Cone Man at council?

The last Nanaimo council meeting for May covered some interesting topics such as upgrades to the dangerous intersection at Northfield Road and Island Highway 19A, how Nanaimo Pride Parade almost got de-railed, and the plans for an expanded Nanaimo Waterfront Walkway from Departure Bay to Port Drive and more.

Northfield Road/Hwy 19A intersection upgrade

After a year of delays, Council approved $1.5 million to upgrade the Northfield Road and Highway 19A intersection. Complicating matters was the railway crossing at this location. Last year Council was unsure what was going to happen to the railway, was it staying or going?

Opposed to the improvements were Councillors Bestwick, Kipp, and Fuller.
In favour were Councillors Brennan, Hong, Thorpe, and Yoachim.

Intersection at Northfield and Island Highway 19A – NEW – no left turns from Boundary Ave onto Northfield Road. NEW – left turn lights for turning onto Boundary Ave from Northfield.

Council discussion:

Hong: Do we have an update on the number of accidents?

Staff: 1 to 2 accidents per week…

McKay: …$1.5 million cost …Ministry of Transportation will pay half of the costs?

Staff: …no high speed trains now…[won’t have to pay for higher standard of rail upgrades]

Kipp: Has staff looked at any other re-alignment options?…

Bestwick:…What’s the future of rail?…rails to trails…I don’t see rail traffic…only 8 to 16 cars a week on the rail…I don’t support millions of dollars being spent on rail crossing improvements…I prefer to see rails being removed…pending lawsuit from First Nations…No movement from provincial or federal government to make railway work…

Thorpe:…I don’t want to be here in a year talking about this….

Fuller: …potential of railway being removed…

The Design Isn’t Ideal

Hong:…This intersection needs work…the design isn’t ideal…needs a turning lane from the highway….It needs a merge lane off the highway…what about lights at Mary Ellen?…54 accidents in 2015 (compared to 82 at Bowen Road)…Buy the corner of the school property to fix the design…

Brennan: …Taking out the rails…is a much bigger question…deaths at this intersection…province willing to pay half…Council has a reluctance to spend on infrastructure…

Fuller: …Federal standards are different than provincial standards for railway…we are doing the minimum safety standard…How are we getting around this?

Mckay: ….railway is active…85% of intersections meet standards…rail tomorrow?… corridor is owned by 15 First Nations and 5 regional districts of which we are one voice…there are 19 others…

Kipp: …we are adding costs to this intersection…the busy road is Northfield…not much improvement…

Bestwick: …60% markup on goods ordered, must we still order through Southern Railway?…

Mckay: There are two makers of rail crossing goods…Southern Railway has chosen one maker…they do the repairs…

Bestwick:…they go buy it…they sole source it…I have seen the bills…markup is significant…broken rail arm at Bowen Road and Island Highway has never been repaired…

Note: On May 17th, Liberal and Conservative members of the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly against Bill C-322, An Act to amend the Railway Safety Act (road crossings), which would have forced railway companies to help construct safe road crossings.  Nanaimo MP Sheila Malcolmson voted in favour.

Nanaimo Pride Parade almost de-railed

A few months ago a group came to Council and presented their plans for a Nanaimo Pride Parade and requested barricades and signage for road closures along the parade route. They also asked if the City could re-paint the rainbow crosswalks which had faded. Their requests were approved by Council at the time.

Fast forward to Monday night, Councillor Brennan raised a motion for repairs to paint the crosswalks and barricades for road closure for the Nanaimo Pride Parade request.

Council discussion:

Brennan:  We have done nothing! Pride weekend is in early June…

Thorpe:… barriers and signage…are we being consistent…do we do this for other events?

COO (Chief Operating Officer): …this is not a City sanctioned event…

Hong: …City sanctioned event? What about Heritage Days? How are they doing barricades?

COO: …private company…

Hong: …who puts the stuff on the road?…

Mckay:…City crews bring the barricades down…then they collect them…last year… the [Pride organizers] had to go to public works and pick them up, put them up and take them down and take them back to public works…No service from public works…

Hong: How did we do it for Heritage Day?…Did they [parade organizers] do all that?…

CAO: …I find it odd that the City would have someone pick up our equipment and set it up…

Fuller: …$2,500 for the other two sidewalks…like to see the other sidewalks done…amendment to motion…to add …other two sidewalks

Brennan:…this was brought up several weeks ago…we didn’t pick up the ball…tonight it’s an urgent matter…

Yoachim: …I am proud to support an event such as this…We got to make this happen…

Kipp: …$5,000 to deliver the barricades and to pick them up?… is that a guess?…

COO: …yes…approximately…

Bestwick:…this is a downtown event…application for an annual event?…

Brennan: …we need to have a definition of ‘City sanctioned’ event…

All Councillors voted in favour of painting the sidewalks and paying for the barricades for the parade.

City Sanctioned Event Confusion

This was a very strange ‘event’ at Council. What happened? It appears that there is no one department that looks after parades. There should be a one stop shop so people don’t have to run around and ask 10 people for help. Does the City of Nanaimo already have a Special Events Coordinator? If not, this is probably something that can be given to one of the directors in the Parks or Culture departments.

Is it possible that the Pride Parade requests were overlooked because some people at the City have a personal objection to it? The COO repeatedly said it wasn’t a “City sanctioned event” but the Pride Parade had been approved by Council. Isn’t that direction enough for Staff? Does the City have a Special Events Policy?

Here is a good example of why a pyramid structure of government doesn’t work. The CAO is removed from any problems. Everything goes through the COO who is the new gate keeper. All departments including Public Works should report directly to the CAO.

Also, what happens with traffic control? The City could be held liable for any accidents that result from the misdirection of traffic.

Nanaimo Waterfront Walkway Plans

The City is planning on expanding the waterfront walkway. There are five areas that are proposed to be completed by 2018. The gaps in making the waterfront walkway continuous are:

1) Northfield Creek
2) Asia Pacific Yacht Club
3) Nanaimo Shipyard
4) Boat Basin
5) 1 Port Drive

Nanaimo waterfront walkway – 5 areas of the walkway to be filled by 2018

The 2.5 km section from Departure Bay Beach to the Departure Bay ferry terminal is controversial with the local residents. In 2002, there was a 480 meter trail installed from Stewart Avenue and Brechin Hill to Northfield Creek for $700,000.

Departure Bay Beach – waterfront walkway to continue along to Bay Street

In June a team of consultants will prepare some options for the walkway and a draft plan is to be presented to the public in September.

2.5km Cilaire Beach waterfront walkway  – concerns have been raised about cliff erosion and wildlife protection

New banners to show case Canada 150

Patrick Belanger won the banner competition for the second time. Only seven artists entered the competition.  Why did so few people compete for the banner contest?

new banners for Canada 150 in Nanaimo

At first glance it looks like a man playing bagpipes but it is a man with a miner’s lamp and someone playing a violin. Can you spot the number 150?

$99 Summer Transit pass for kids

Youth between the ages of 12 to 18 can get a transit pass that is valid from June 29th and September 4th. Passes can be used for youth drop-in recreation programs in Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach. There are 300 passes available.

In the meantime, there needs to be a shuttle bus for NRGH workers who clog up the highways driving from Ladysmith to Nanaimo and back every day.

King Cone

This is what happens when Public Works don’t pick up City equipment:

Green Thumb Park Proposal; Cadillac Fire Hall; BC Transit Beef

Some hot topics coming up at the next Council meeting on Monday, May 15th are:

  • Northfield Road and the Island Highway upgrade
  • RCMP operations report
  • Two new 6 storey buildings proposed for 91 Chapel Street
  • Four storey 60 unit building proposed for 5260 Dublin Way
  • Fewer parking stalls at 1805 Summerhill Place

At the May 8th COW (Committee Of the Whole) meeting there were some interesting presentations: an idea for a park at Green Thumb; a rail trail; a BC Transit Beef and a new $17 million fire hall which was approved by Council.

Green Thumb Park Proposal

The Green Thumb Nursery in North Nanaimo is selling for $23 million. Situated between the Island Highway, Hammond Bay Road and Uplands Road, it is the last large undeveloped tract of land in north Nanaimo—44 acres.

This would be an ideal space for a park.  Nearby, 20 storey high rises are slated to be built  behind Costco and Longwood Station.

Green Thumb – 44 acres a possible park at Hammond Bay and Uplands Road
Green Thumb Park Proposal

Fred Brooks, a professional landscape designer, came up with the an idea of a Central Park, Van Dusen Gardens or Beacon Hill type park.

Unfortunately, the Council’s reaction to the presentation was a collective of blank stares. Councillor Thorpe said Council needs to be careful with its money.

What Nanaimo could look like in the future with Green Thumb Park as a centerpiece

More and more people are moving to Nanaimo so smaller lots and big high rises will the the new norm. People will need a park to go to for mental health. Ghettos have no trees and no parks.

Large treed lots are being denuded to make way for high-density small lots. Trees are disappearing fast.

Remember the controversy about saving Neck Point? A lot of people questioned the idea of saving it at the time; now look how many people go there today.

$17 million Fire Hall approved

Last Monday, Council approved the proposal for a $17 million fire hall on Prideaux Street to replace Fire Hall #1. Included in this proposal is $125,000 worth of art.

Opposed were Mayor Mckay and Councollor Hong.
In favour were Councillors Thorpe, Yoachim, Brennan and Kipp.
Councillor Fuller was absent for the vote (because of a business conflict).

Council Discussion:

Bestwick: …What was the cost of the Chase River Fire Hall? $3 million?…We need 3,250 square feet for administration?…a total of 15,000 square feet in this new building…

Hong: …We need a command centre…RCMP is the next building to be re-built…fire, police, ambulance, …we are building a ‘Cadillac model’…$125,000 budget for public art in a fire station?! (Hong screams)…Public art people won’t see!…Public art in this building [SARC] people don’t see…Borrowing is cheap…paying for building over 40 years…we should not be using reserves…

Brennan: …Why do we need to have administration located at the fire hall? Will there be parking issues?..What about the fire hall in the north end? In 2009 we were going to have a fire hall on Hammond Bay Road?…

Mckay: I support a new building but we need to have all services in one building…[a command centre]…

Bestwick: Have we put all our 45-year-old buildings on a list?…What are our priorities?…public works needs a new building…Beban Park needs upgrades…Departure Bay Activity Centre needs replacing…There are more than 10 buildings that need replacing…

Hospital Parking and BC Transit Beef

A resident came to make a beef about the bus transit to the hospital and how it doesn’t meet up with peoples’ work schedules at the hospital. Here is some of what the delegation had to say:

“The first bus leaves from the downtown Nanaimo to the hospital at 6:55am when most people start their shift at 7am. It is useless! So I have to drive…lack of transit coordination… Same with the mall in the northend; the buses aren’t there when mall shifts end or start….The BC Ferry terminal is the same thing…the bus that connects to the ferry leaves empty…why isn’t the bus coordinated with the ferry?…”

Hong: BC Transit…gives us hours…we can only shuffle the schedule…problem is we don’t have enough hours…

Speaker: I am not asking for more hours…just coordinate the schedule with the hospital shifts….

Bestwick: …nothing has changed…we are building a parkade for the hospital…

Fuller: …transit sucks…find more people to complain…

Yoachim: …I am willing to bring this up for you at an RDN board meeting…

Kipp:$8.5 million we pay for BC transit every year…we have had transit reports…empty buses…bad system…you can walk to VIU faster than the bus…we have made a cash cow out of parking…$100 for student parking…empty bus syndrome…our town is linear…we are driving all over the place…soon Nanaimo to Comox will be one big strip mall…

Speaker: …just re-schedule the buses…the #30 that leaves Prideaux Street and goes to the hospital takes 12min and leaves at 6:55am, they don’t care that people are trying to get to work on time!…it is NOT about more hours…

Empty Bus Syndrome

Check out this article called Why Tactical Transit is the Next Big Thing. “Tactical Transit” has the ability to jump start virtuous cycles of increasing bus ridership by speeding up travel times, improving passenger experience and enhancing overall perceptions of riding the bus. Empty Bus Syndrome could be a thing of the past!

Rail Trail Proposal

A group spoke to Council about an idea to have a rail trail from Parksville to Courtenay, citing the deteriorating condition of the E&N rail bed. Their website is Fortvi.ca for more information.

The federal government gives a private company $200 million every year to operate the railway on Vancouver Island yet nothing is being done to maintain the tracks.

There are many areas around the world where trains are THE mode of transportation. Many seniors have mobility issues and would prefer a train system rather than beating off feral dogs and rabbits with their canes.

New building on Skinner

Two new six storey multi-family buildings are being proposed for 91 Chapel Street.  The proposal includes some live-work studios which could be marketed to young creative types.

Out of Order: SARC boardroom Audio System

The audio system at the City Hall building is terrible. If you have ever tried listening to a COW meeting there is a constant noise of paper shuffling, binder clicks and chronic coughing fits. Whenever someone speaks it sounds as though they’re talking through a vacuum tube.

At the last COW meeting the camera was at a very low angle at the back of the room so the view was obliterated every time someone passed by within inches of the camera. In the meantime it was not possible to see all the council members or have a good view of the delegations. Councillor Fuller looked like he had a blue lump on his shoulder and it turned out to be Councillor Kipp.

For a $14 million dollar ‘Cadillac’ building, the audio and visual equipment is ‘Pinto’-like. There will be no audio for a while according to the City so we will just have to fill in the blanks with some wild speculation. There is no date when the audio equipment will be fixed.

New Nanaimo Fire Hall; skinny jeans, real estate frenzy

Next week there will be a Nanaimo COW (committee of the whole) meeting on Monday, May 8th at 4:30pm. Some topics of interest include building a new Nanaimo fire hall downtown, the E&N rail trail to Courtenay, and future uses of the Green Thumb Nursery lands.

Last week Council approved a tax increase of 1.5% and very briefly went over the 2016 Financial Statement:

  • $17.3 million operating surplus (accumulated) – up 1.5 million over 2015
  • $127 million in reserves – up 5 million from last year
  • $43.9 million debt – down 3 million from 2015
  • $634 million in tangible assets – up $11 million

In 2016 almost $152 million of property taxes were collected. The reserve accounts for 2016 include:

  • snow removal budget reserve $400,000
  • photocopy reserve $309,408
  • housing legacy reserve $2,415,652
  • Fire & Emergency reserve $2,047,367

Council discussion:

Hong: …Port of Nanaimo Centre…got a reduced rate so are we going to see a reduced rate for the other projects?…better rates?…

McKay: …better to ask that in the finance committee meeting…

Thorpe: …reserve funds…Old City Parking Reserve (what’s that for?)…

Staff:…it’s for Old City Quarter parking stalls…

New Fire Hall Downtown

The Council will look at a report on replacing or renovating Fire Hall #1 on Prideaux Street, which was built in 1966. It had seismic upgrades in 2000. The report favours building a new fire hall on the existing site with room for administration staff.

Some deficiencies at the fire hall include no accessible washrooms, no elevator (note the polished brass fire pole below), repairs needed to boiler, roof and concrete.

It is surprising to read that the ‘egress systems’ don’t meet current building codes. There is no sprinkler or fire alarm system in the building.  How could they not have proper exits or smoke detectors at a fire hall?

Fire Hall on Prideaux Street built in 1966

This approach is probably the most expensive way to go with a price tag of just under $20 million.

Red Circle is Fire Hall #1 to be rebuilt

This plan would require the temporary use of another building while part of the fire hall is torn down. Tune in next week for any updates.

Skinny Jeans and Real Estate Frenzy

skinny jeans with holes and no socks

What do ‘skinny jeans’ and the real estate frenzy have in common? Maybe tight times.

Skinny pants have usually coincided with economic upheaval – early 50s, early 60s, early 80s and now.

Skinny pants with holes in them and mens’  suits with no socks are now the norm.

How does this impoverished look meld with the escalating cost of housing across Canada? The real estate frenzy shows no sign of slowing down.

Note the skinny pants in the video at 3:35.

Budget Heckler; RDN Buffoonery; City Annex Condos; Old City Quarter Business Improvement

At the April 24th Council meeting there was the ‘Budget Heckler’, RDN ‘Buffoonery’ and approval of the Old City Quarter Business Improvement Area.

The next Nanaimo Council meeting will see the CFO go over the City’s financial statements  with a lice comb, which should be interesting. The establishment of a new economic development department, a new lease for the Nanaimo Yacht Club and plans for condos for the Old City Hall Annex Building, are also on the agenda.

No Public Hearing on tax increase

In the past there have been opportunities for the public to give their feedback on the budget for the coming year, but not this time. The Council is determined to keep tax hikes coming every year. What happened to the ideas in the $300,000 Core Services Review on ways to save money?

At the last council meeting  Councillor Brennan had several questions on the budget. Some councillors appeared defensive of the new tax increase of 1.5% while others had no comment. One heckler yelled at Councillor Brennan several times throughout the discussion.

Council discussion:

Brennan: …I will not support a budget that relies too heavily on reverse [billing]…This is a politically motivated budget… Are we adding any services?…RCMP? What are they asking for?… We are using reserves to keep our taxes lower…Two weeks ago we were facing a tax increase of 2.3% so where did we get the money to cover that?

Staff: …we could have kept the money in a debt reserve account but it was decided to use it to keep the taxes down…

Brennan: …there were several opportunities to reduce services this year as recommended by the Core Services Review…gender guarding eliminated [interrupted by heckler]…did we reap any savings out of that?

CFO: …can’t speak to that …no change has been made yet…

Brennan: …so the instructions were given but it has not yet been implemented?…

CFO: … it’s been implemented…

Brennan: …what about the closure of the Beban Pool during the summer?…going ahead with that?…

Staff: …it’s unclear…

Brennan: …Core Services Review? how much did that cost us?

Staff: …about $300,000…

Bestwick: ..I’ll try not be a bystander and ask that the member of the audience refrain from making comments while debate is taking place…We discussed road repairs, the worse weather in 20 years!…Finance committee is made up of all council and we asked staff to use reserves to cover the road repair budget….

Kipp: …we offered to have gender specific guarding as an overtime issue…we saved money on purchasing…I vote for this budget…some members of council are not attending  meetings (squints at Brennan)…Our wages have gone up 53%…In 20 years we will be $250 million short…we found $5 million in savings…We have to concern ourselves with climbing wages*…

*Reminder to readers that Council voted themselves a 3.35% increase to their base pay a year ago.

Hong: …we have to increase taxes…snow removal…

Brennan: …our staff has done a great job…no argument from me…but skinny budget…

Fuller: …I don’t think it is a political budget…$285 million shortfall for infrastructure over the next 20 years so hence the 1%*…we met and decided…staff did their job…

All voted in favour of the 1.5% increase in taxes for 2017 except Councillor Brennan.

*a 1% property tax is proposed every year until 2022 to cover infrastructure expenditures.

Old City Quarter Business Improvement area

At the last council meeting a new downtown association was approved called the “Old City Quarter Business Improvement Area”. A spokesperson representing the new group came to answer questions.

Council discussion:

Brennan: …to see this gone is a shame [DNBIA]…

Fuller: …I heard at the meeting that they [DNBIA] had $20,000 in the bank at the end…

Hong: sad to see it go…it was too big…too much…you need a lot of buy-in from the merchants…BIA 2 is looking to start forming again…good restart…

Thorpe:…hope we will see a new business downtown group…

Bestwick: …new events funding $150,000 for downtown festivals…

Fuller:…we are seeing another new group with the Victoria Crescent merchants…

Thorpe: …The rebirth of a new business improvement area…

New Economic Development Department

Council will vote on establishing an “in-house” economic development department on May 1st. It was in December 2016 that council shut down  the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation.

This could save money with less office space and staff. BUT not if it all goes to more consulting fees! Why is it every time the City turns around it needs to hire more consultants?

Old City Annex building on Franklyn

There are plans to replace the Old City Annex building with a 5 storey, 46 unit, multi-family rental building. It will have commercial space at street level and 26 parking spaces accessible from Robson street.

Old City Annex building – new plans
New Wallace/Franklyn building

Councillor Fuller gets seat on RDN

Last week’s Council meeting got off to a rocky start with Councillors trying to decide who should replace Councillor Pratt’s vacant seat at the RDN board.

Councillor Kipp got hot under the collar accusing the Mayor of playing politics, calling the process “buffoonery”.

Mayor McKay said that they have not been following policy by alternating the RDN board position.

Councillor Thorpe mentioned that Council hasn’t had a primary alternate for the RDN position. He said that while one person had an edge with the number of votes, the other had more years of experience. He nominated Councillor Brennan.

Councillor Hong  said they alternated with Brennan because of Fuller’s health issues.

Councillor Bestwick suggested that there should be a policy to protect them from this mess.

After almost 30 minutes of talking Council voted to go with the person who had received  the most votes at the last municipal election which was Councillor Fuller.

Word of the night goes to Councillor Kipp for “buffoonery”. What will it be next week?

City Clerk Wanted

Clerk Clerk Ad

This job ad for a City Clerk was posted in the Nanaimo News Bulletin. Why does this position have such high turnover?

Some departments are all men, some are all women; maybe they should mix things up a little.

 

Garbage, Taxes, Square One and Oceanview Golf Course

The big question for Nanaimo residents is how much will property taxes be going up this year. Will it be 1.5%? There is a Nanaimo Council meeting planned for Monday, April 24th. Property taxes are set to go up every year as follows:

Tax increaseYear
1.5%2017
2.1%2018
2.5%2019
2.4%2020
1.5%2021

2017 Property tax increase 1.5%

Why are taxes expected to go up 1.5% this year? Here are some of the reasons the City needs more money:

  • $1 million for General Asset Management Fund
  • $1.3 million for 2 new positions* and wage/benefits increases for all staff
  • $349,000 for RCMP
  • $393,000 for snow removal
  • $288,000 for road repairs

If the market value of your home has increased by more than 13.6% then your property tax increase will be higher than 1.5%.

In addition, there are RDN taxes as well as user fees. Taxes are due July 4, 2017.

*two new positions are Social Planner and Communication and Digital Content Specialist

User fee 2017 increases

User fees are also going up this year:

  • 5% increase for sewer
  • 7.5% increase for water
  • 2% increase for garbage

There was a presentation on the new automated garbage system at the last COW meeting. Unfortunately, the bulk of the garbage discussion was behind closed doors so the details of this massive upgrade are not known. Here are some highlights from the presentation:

  • garbage, recycling and organics to be collected by city staff
  • yard waste will be included soon
  • both sides of new trucks can be filled with different material
  • door to curb service available for residents with mobility issues
  • possible glass collection in the future
  • Cost is $169 for first year and $131 for years 2 thru 5

Council discussion:

Hong: …Who owns the carts …if it breaks who replaces it?

Staff: …The City…

Hong: …Is there one rate for yard waste and organics?

Staff: …estimated prices…

Thorpe: …public engagement?

Staff: …will be at public events…information with carts…stickers on carts…

Kipp: …no separate bins for parks, no recycling bins in parks?…

Staff: The RDN has an upcoming program…

Kipp: …Seven of us sit on RDN so we know what’s going on…City has trash everywhere …

Bestwick: …organics and yard waste pick up weekly?…

Staff: Yes

Hong: …are we going to save money? …options of bin sizes? …cost?

Staff: RFP for carts soon…

Bestwick: ..pick up days?…rotate as usual?

Staff: …looking at options…

Yoachim: …high price…but a service we need…City purchased 6 trucks before…not well thought out (not you)…people suffered [worker injuries]…[now] handcuffed to buy these new trucks…

McKay: …split packers…heavy loads…millions of dollars in bins and trucks…West Kelowna private rates $185…they are paying more than us…How much yard waste can you put in? …

Staff: 1″ or 1/2″ diameter branches can go in…grinder to mulch down…

McKay: …are commercial and multi family units going to use multi bins…what about front of house restaurant waste?…

Staff: RDN, that’s their area…free zero waste services for groups holding events…

Kipp: …Our dump is full…What about diversion?…We need to take it away from Vancouver Island…DBL has high diversion rate…Garbage should be sent back to stores like WalMart [where it came from]…

Kipp: …we have never voted on this in public…We never had a real debate we just had the presentation…I am disappointed that we voted about this garbage program behind closed doors…Therefore, I vote against receiving this presentation…I am registering this with the police (points to city clerk)…

Councillors Kipp and Fuller opposed to receiving presentation…

Organic Waste 20 Year Contract

RDN looks to negotiate long-term deal for organic waste for processsing. Nanaimo Organic Waste Ltd. plans to do an upgrade that will reduce odours but they need the RDN to enter into a 20 year deal to make it worthwhile.

Mayor’s report

At the last Council meeting, Mayor McKay showed slides of two new ships that Seaspan purchased for runs between the Mainland and Duke Point. These are truck ferries that can carry several containers at once. The ships will be put into service on May 5th. Will these ships be used to carry garbage for the incinerator proposed for Duke Point?

LED Street Lights

The City is planning on switching street lights to LED (Light Emitting Diode). You can check these lights on April 25th at the VICC from 8pm to 10pm.

A study was completed for the City by consultants for an unknown amount. The switch would have a potential of savings of $200,000 per year in energy and $25,000 in maintenance costs.

Council By-election

July 8th is “Election Day” in Nanaimo to fill the Council seat left vacant by Wendy Pratt. It will cost approximately $150,000 for the election process.

The final results of the March 11, 2017 referendum revealed that 35.3% of eligible residents voted.

End of Square One

Square One was to be a techno hub but ended up being a ‘hot desk’ facility. It was set up under the last Council by NEDCorp. Unfortunately, this type of startup takes a lot of money and needs many groups to ‘buy in’ to make it work. There was a presentation at the last COW meeting.  Here are the highlights:

Closing Square One costs:

  • $115,000 lost in 2016
  • $147,000 to close lease
  • $5,800 furniture lease

Council discussion:

Brennan: …canvassed the industry?…Best idea?…no desire to make it an incubator facility?

Staff: …not feasible…

Hong: …internet service, $6,000 savings?…

Bestwick: …fiber optic service $5,840 a month for 500mb – 1 office had 5x times greater contract? … this contract was done on a 7 year term?

Fuller: …How are we saving money? …we are paying more…looks like we are paying $82,000 more per year…I wouldn’t call it a savings…

CFO: …we can’t get out of the contract…

Coastal Douglas Fir

A presentation was made from a group called Coastal Douglas Fir and Associated Ecosystems Conservation Partnership (CDFCP).

The speaker talked about the Coastal Douglas Fir zone which is endangered as only 9% is protected and less than 1% of the old growth remains.  Also, 80% of Coastal Douglas Fir lands are in private hands which doesn’t include forest company holdings.

The speaker asked if the land at Oceanview Golf Resort and Spa in Cedar were to come before the community that Council members consider planning practices. Councillor Bestwick requested a report from staff on the topic.

Map of Coastal Douglas Fir

Below is a 2009 video about the proposed Oceanview Golf Resort and Spa.