Downtown Nanaimo Parking Free or Fee?!

There is a motion on the Nanaimo Council agenda for the Monday December 15, 2014 meeting regarding downtown Nanaimo parking. DNBIA (Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association)  is requesting free on-street parking on Saturdays downtown and in the Old City Quarter for a one year trial period.   Also,  DNBIA suggested there be free parking in the evenings after 6pm and weekends for all City owned parking lots downtown such as the Bastion Street Parkade (except the Conference Centre parkade and the Harbourfront parkade). **

This is to find out if free parking will increase the number of people coming to downtown Nanaimo on weekends.

In August 2014, plans were made to raise parking rates and put in 500 additional parking meters in the Old City Quarter and on other streets including Commercial Street. This parking plan will cost almost $900,000 to be phased in over the next few years.

Part of this plan is for a $97,000 licence plate recognition system. A person can download open source licence plate recognition software for free.

Metered parking has gone up from $.50 per hour to $1.25 per hour. Rates have gone up from $3 to $9 for 12-hour parking at the City’s Cavan, Wallace and Wentworth street parking lots. To promote the use of off-street parkades the rate is $.75 for two hours.

The highest demand for parking in downtown Nanaimo is Monday to Friday during daytime hours. The maximum allowable time is 2 hours for on-street parking.

Parking Downtown Nanaimo Parking Free or Fee?!
No more free parking on the street Monday to Friday in Downtown Nanaimo but Saturday free! City says goodbye to the “small town” free parking.

Currently, the City is paying a company about $50,000 per year to collect money from parking meters.  The City reports to be collecting about $12,000 per month. There are currently 285 metered stalls.

Will people continue to go downtown during the weekdays as frequently as they do now?

Also, there is the ongoing maintenance of the parkades. The City recently spent $200,000 on repair work at the Bastion Street Parkade.

Unfortunately, the City’s parking rates don’t cover the costs of maintenance and building the parkades in the first place.

What will happen when the new hotels get built downtown? Where will everyone park? Where will the people who work downtown park their cars?

Vancancy Rates
How steep are the challenges for merchants in downtown Nanaimo? Just from scanning the streets, it looks like there are still lots of vacant shops downtown.

Thinking outside the Box
People will go to where parking is free and easy.  There is lots of free and easy parking at all the malls in Nanaimo. The challenge will be to offer something different.  This requires people to think outside the box.

What about turning the downtown into a pedestrian and cycling zone? What about free bus shuttles from the hospital to downtown or the ferries during the summer? Get people downtown hassle-free.

**Nanaimo Council voted to approve the DNBIA request for free Saturday and evening parking.

Naming Rights: rename Nanaimo or not?

On Monday,  December 8, 2014 at the  Committee of Whole meeting Nanaimo council will vote to proceed with a Sponsorship Program.  What is ‘Sponsorship’? How does it work?

IceCentre Naming Rights: rename Nanaimo or not?
Naming Rights – Nanaimo Ice Centre renamed?

The City of Nanaimo would like to make some money. How does it plan to do this? By selling ‘naming rights’ or get corporations to sign a ‘sponsorship agreement’.

Sponsorship differs from gifting. In the past when companies gave donations or provided grants and gifts typically it was understood that no compensation was expected.

In a sponsorship agreement the corporate sponsor expects a return on investment.

At the November 5, 2014 Culture and Heritage Commission meeting, the C&H commission passed a motion recommending that Council approve the Corporate Sponsorship Policy for the City and have staff develop a separate Naming Rights and Advertising Policy.

The Draft document so far suggests that council approve sponsorships over $75,000 and anything under would be approved by the City.

Questions that arise about a Sponsorship Program:

  • what facilities would be considered for renaming?
  • would the City be seen as endorsing the products, services or ideas of the sponsor corporation?
  • would this require a new position such as a Sponsorship Coordinator?
  • would the City have to hire an outside ‘sponsorship company’?
  • what about public consultation on naming rights?

NEDCOR (Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation)
Is the City going to task NEDCOR to look into a Sponsorship Program? They are out and about marketing Nanaimo. Taxpayers already pay approximately $1.5 million a year for NEDCOR. Would this be something NEDCOR could handle?

Lessons from Ottawa
It has been about two years since the City of Ottawa decided to get into Naming Rights or the ‘sponsorship game’. Ottawa awarded the Sponsorship Program contract to a company that specialized in public sector marketing. The  company receives a percentage—between 10% to 20%—of all the deals.

So far after two years the company has helped the City of Ottawa earn just under $200,000 per year. The City had been expecting millions of dollars in return.

Jacques Corriveau
After 11 years of investigation, the RCMP have charged Jacques Corriveau for setting up a kickback system on contracts awarded during the sponsorship program in Quebec. Which brings a cynical question.  Are Sponsorship Programs a convenient yet convoluted way of getting away with forgery and laundering dirty money?

BebanPark Naming Rights: rename Nanaimo or not?
Beban Park – Site of a New Mega Sign?

Rather than hiring a sponsorship coordinator it would be prudent for the city to first hire an in-house lawyer. It seems ludicrous that the City has no legal council on staff when everything has to do with the law. In the meantime, Nanaimo taxpayers have paid millions of dollars in lawsuits that could have been avoided in the first place.

New Nanaimo Council predictions: the next 4 years

On Monday, December 1, 2014 the new Nanaimo council will be sworn in and will sit for the next four years. Also, on Monday night there will be 7 councillors appointed as Directors to the Regional District of Nanaimo.

New Nanaimo Council Seating Plan:

SeatingArrgment New Nanaimo Council predictions: the next 4 years
Nanaimo Council Seating proposed changes approved by last sitting council.

Last year at the December 9, 2013 council meeting a report was received from the Governance Review committee regarding proposed new changes for how meetings would be run.

One of the recommendations was to change the seating arrangement in order to improve dialogue between Council and City staff during meetings.

The new changes would cost approximately $4,000.  The seating changes were approved unanimously at a recent council meeting. Are these changes necessary?

The proposed new seating arrangement is typical of what is found in most other cities. It is not too clear from the drawing where the media would sit. Having the podium more central and moveable and wheelchair accessible would be a good idea as suggested at the last council meeting.

Group dynamics may improve with the seating changes. Research has shown that if councillors want to be favoured by the Mayor who sits in the middle, then they are advised to sit on the Mayor’s right.

The big question is how will the new council engage the citizens of Nanaimo. Somehow the public has to be more involved in local politics. We have seen how crowds can get angry and out of control quickly when issues are sprung on them.

SignMan1 New Nanaimo Council predictions: the next 4 years
Nanaimo Council Sign Man harassing Linley Valley speakers

The public’s conduct in council chambers is something that must be addressed. Can people clap? Can people bring signs? Can people wear hats, masks, wigs? The rules should be clearly stated at the beginning of every council meeting and adhered to.

All councillors should be familiar with Robert’s Rules of Order. It outlines how meetings are to be conducted. The Mayor should reserve his comments and voting until after all others have finished so as not to bias the direction of the discussion.

Endless Harassment
For many members of the public it is very intimidating to speak about their concerns before council and to have people waving signs behind their heads is unacceptable.

SignMan2 New Nanaimo Council predictions: the next 4 years
New Nanaimo Mayor and council must address harassment of public at council meetings

Unfortunately, Mayor Ruttan condoned Sign Man. Frequently, Sign man has waved offensive signs behind the City Manager and behind delegations as they make presentations.

As pointed out in a previous post this activity is all part of a larger group on social media and letters to the editor in mainstream media.  Any councillor who they do not like is also a target.

In the local papers it was reported that Councillor Brennan used social media on election day when then there was to be a blackout. It has since been reported that Elections BC has ruled that since Councillor Brennan removed her social media posts when asked that she was in compliance.

When politians don’t follow the rules people have no patience. For those politicians that stand up for unions, arts and the LGBTcommunity or minorities they need to be extra careful and watch their step as far-right religious groups will have no mercy with them.

Bullying New Nanaimo Council predictions: the next 4 years
Nanaimo Councillor target of cyber bullying by local group

The new social media civic election rules were introduced in May of this year and will not be around for the next civic election in four years. Lawyers have stated this social media rule is flawed because other people can ‘tweet’ out a candidate on election day, other people can ‘facebook’ a candidate; there is no limit. It is a ridiculous rule that is severely flawed.

For people who aren’t given a ‘suggested list’ of who to vote for, voting is not an impromptu activity. Far too many people in Nanaimo arrive to the polls with a ‘suggested list’ to which they have no clue as to whom they are voting for.

Over the next four years a lot will happen. The core review will cost at least half a million dollars, city staffing levels will be gutted, there may be an incinerator and a coal mine in Cedar. There could be 70,000 Chinese ‘tourists’ move into a new hotel downtown,  and a possibility that the conference centre will be sold for a $1.

Celebrating 100 years: Great National Land Building

Guess what building in downtown Nanaimo is celebrating its 100th birthday? The Great National Land Building is one of Nanaimo’s best examples of Neo-Classical Revival architecture and is located at the intersection of Church Street and Chapel Street.

5ChurchNanaimo Celebrating 100 years: Great National Land Building
Best example of Neo-Classical Architecture in Nanaimo is on Church Street, built in 1914.

In 1901 the Canadian Bank of Commerce absorbed the Bank of British Columbia and assumed control of their branches.

In December 1901 the Bank of BC building erected in 1888 was demolished and replaced by a two storey brick bank constructed on a triangular shaped lot formed by the junction of Church and Chapel Street, facing Commercial Street. The address was 5 Church Street.

That structure was designed by local architect James Kelly and comprised a banking hall on the corner with offices above and a block of stores at the rear. James Kelly also designed Haslam Hall (1893) 15 Wallace Street, Nanaimo.

ChurchStBank1 Celebrating 100 years: Great National Land Building
Corner of Church Street and Chapel Street Nanaimo  1977

By late 1913, increased business called for larger banking facilities and the banking section of the 1901 building was torn down. A flat iron-shaped building was begun in November 1913, and completed in 1914. V.D. Horsburgh, was the staff architect for Dominion Realty, a subsidiary of the Canadian Bank of Commerce.

Horsburgh designed all of the bank’s branches that were built between 1910 and 1922.

The portico built in Nanaimo was the result of trying to utilize the narrow end of a gore shaped lot.

DanforthBroadview Celebrating 100 years: Great National Land Building
Danforth and Broadview in Toronto, sister building

A contemporary wedge-shaped branch similar to the Nanaimo structure and also designed by Horsburgh was built at the corner of Danforth and Broadview in Toronto. (see photo to left)

A major interior feature of the 1914 Nanaimo branch was its circular banking hall, opening off the main entrance. Cheque tables were located in the center, with wickets and counters on the inner side. Various offices radiated from the hall, beginning with the manager’s, located on  the left side, adjacent to the vestibule. The floor of the main hall was of white marble; murals decorated the walls.

When completed the Neo-Classical structure was considered one of the finest buildings in Nanaimo. It continued to serve as a branch of the Canadian (Imperial) Bank of Commerce until March 1960.

The building was eventually acquired by Nanaimo mayor Frank Ney, president of Nanaimo Company, who renamed it the Frontier Building. Back in the day the “Frontier Building” was the pulse centre of Nanaimo’s business district as Frank Ney, land developer, real estate agent and politician, built the city.

In 1977 a six storey office tower was added.  The accounting firm Church Pickard, a tenant since the addition was built, moves out in December along with Coast Realty Group.  Owner Norman Blattgerste has not revealed to the media what his plans are; maybe it will be renovated, leased or sold.

A heritage designation was given to the building in 1997 by the City of Nanaimo after a $1-million renovation to the exterior.

So much has changed over the last 100 years. What stories will this building have to tell over the next hundred years?

Mid Vancouver Island Voter Challenge results

There was an unofficial Mid Vancouver Island voter challenge running between Port Alberni, Qualicum Beach, Parksville, Lantzville, Nanaimo and Ladysmith. How many people got out and voted? Here is the voter turnout for the six mid-island communities:

  • Qualicum Beach: 62.16%
  • Lantzville: 50.6%
  • Port Alberni: 46.3%
  • Ladysmith: 42.5%
  • Parksville: 35.2%
  • Nanaimo: 34.7%

Unfortunately, Nanaimo was dead last. Why are almost 70% of Nanaimo voters uninterested in their community? Is it true that only the elderly and the religious get out and vote? The reason that low voter turnout is such a concern is that this is an indication of a  totalitarian regime under which people are poor, uneducated, uninformed and individual opinions are suppressed.  Robust voter turnout is fundamental to a healthy democracy.  An indifferent population is much easier to control than an informed one.  Is that the overall plan?

Here are the results of the November 2014 civic election, numbers show votes:

  • Nanaimo  Mayor elect  Bill McKay: 6400
    Elected councillors:
  • Bestwick, Bill: 10218 (incumbent)
  • Yoachim, Bill: 8794
  • Pratt, Wendy: 8307
  • Kipp, Jim: 7142 (incumbent)
  • Hong, Jerry: 6996
  • Thorpe, Ian: 6745
  • Fuller, Gordon: 6703
  • Brennan, Diane: 6547 (incumbent)

Look at the numbers. Notice that every elected councillor received more votes than the elected mayor. Only three councillors were re-elected.  Is this what a pro-incinerator slate looks like? We shall find out sooner than later. Will McKay and his team send the arts community packing? How long will the City Manager and the Communications Director last?

Despite all his McKay ‘back scrubbing’, blogger Jim Taylor wasn’t rewarded with a council seat. Also, Kevin Cantelon, the son of Ron Cantelon (former MLA and  Nanaimo councillor) was dropped.

Many new people were elected as SD68 trustees:

  • Higginson, Stephanie:  9545
  • Kimler, Scott: 8490
  • Solomon, Jeff: 7463
  • Rae, Steve: 7270
  • Bob, Natasha: 7243
  • Brzovic, Tania: 7020
  • Routley, Noah: 6564
  • Brennan, Jamie: 6275 (incumbent)
  • Robinson, Bill: 6242 (incumbent)

There are seven new SD68 school trustees. This is a big change with only two incumbent trustees surviving the election. Will this new group have any luck in getting more help for students of SD68? It should be interesting to watch what happens over the next four years until the 2018 civic election.

MayorMcK Mid Vancouver Island Voter Challenge results
New Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay, looks like he won the 6/49 lotto – maybe he did?

Predicting Nanaimo voter turnout 2014 and more

m4s0n501

The big question on everyone’s mind is how many people will vote in the 2014 civic election? There was one advance poll held on November 5th. Here is the voter turnout:

  • Nanaimo: 835 voters
  • Parksville: 301 voters
  • Qualicum Beach: 702 voters
  • Port Alberni: 624 voters

The circle shows the number of people who voted compared to the relative populations:
Nanaimo: 83,810 (blue)
Parksville 11,852 (red)
Qualicum Beach 8,481 (green)
Port Alberni 17,743 (yellow)

Let’s hope more Nanaimo residents will vote. Everyone makes a difference!

Here is a quick overview of civic election hot topics and referendum questions for the mid Vancouver island area:

Nanaimo:
Referendum questions: none
Hot topics:  Colliery Dams, tax increases, long term lease of Georgia Park, incinerator at Duke Point

Parksville:
Referendum questions: none
Hot topics:  the estimated $37 million water treatment project on the Englishman River

Qualicum Beach:
Referendum questions: 1
increasing in size of Town of Qualicum Beach Council from 4 councillors to 6 councillors
Hot topics: Expanding the community boundaries

Port Alberni:
Referendum questions: 2
borrowing for a bridge at Roger Creek at 10th Avenue,  approximate cost $14.6 million resulting in tax increases to the average homeowner of $160 per year for 25 years.
– establishing a Sproat Lake Marine Patrol service
Hot topics: Tax increases, water, air quality

Ladysmith:
Referendum questions: 1
- non-binding opinion referendum question on providing funding for the Cowichan Sportsplex
Hot topics: Expanding the community boundaries

Nanaimo Regional District:
Referendum questions: none
Hot topics: Tax increases, incinerator

Lantzville:
Referendum Questions: 1
reducing the size of the District of Lantzville Council from 6 councillors to 4 councillors
Hot topics: Expansion of boundaries, tax increases, water

In the last three years there have been hundreds of people who attended Council or Committee Of the Whole (COW) meetings in Nanaimo. Every area of Nanaimo has been affected by City of Nanaimo decisions:

North Nanaimo: Pioneer Park, Hammond Bay cell tower
Central Nanaimo: Linley Valley, Linley Valley Drive
Departure Bay: BC Ferry signage, mall expansion into Lynburn Estates
South Nanaimo: Colliery Dams, Harbour sale, Georgia Park

In addition, there were zoning changes that brought many concerned residents to come before council meetings.

If every one of these people who appeared at COW meetings and Council meetings were to get out and vote and convince one or two others, the turnout for Nanaimo could be record-breaking. Some predict the Nanaimo voter turnout could be in the 35-38% range. Only 27% of eligible voters in Nanaimo cast their ballots in 2011.

You have 2 more chances to vote. Make it count!

  • Wednesday, November 12th from 8 am to 8 pm and
  • the BIG voting day is Saturday, November 15th
RDay Predicting Nanaimo voter turnout 2014 and more
Remembrance Day – Lest we Forget.

***Remember those who were sent to off to war.  On the 11th hour of November 11th, pause and reflect on those who sacrificed their lives so you have the opportunity to vote.

This photo was taken October 1, 1940 in New Westminster. These men from Nanaimo were marching off to the Second World War in Europe.