Nanaimo Events Centre Phase 3 and 4; Fire plan; AVICC

A Nanaimo council meeting is coming up this Monday night February 20, 2017. Hot topics of the night will be the Nanaimo Events Centre (NEC) and the Downtown Nanaimo Revitalization Fund. Other topics of interest include the Fire Plan and the land shuffle between the City and the School Board.

Nanaimo Events Centre Phase 3 and 4

Council will vote to approve $500,000 for Phase 3 & 4 of the NEC. This is to pay for the open houses and referendum process. The total spent on the NEC so far is approximately $1.25 million.

The City is in the process of selecting a Facility Operator. Meanwhile, four other companies have been hired for the following:

Legal – Weirfoulds LLP
Financial – Ernst and Young
Architect – BBB Architects
Manager – Colliers Projects

Many City staff are involved in planning the NEC such as the CAO, CFO, COO, CSO, and three Directors; this cost to taxpayers has not been included.

March 11 – $80 million dollar Voting Day

Yes or no? Do you want the City of Nanaimo to borrow $80 million to build an events centre at 1 Port Drive?

Advanced voting days are March 1st and 8th at VICC from 8am to 8pm. March 11th is the main voting day. Here are some of the arguments for and against building the NEC.

economic spinoff to restaurants, hotelsNo private funding
create jobs100% taxpayer funded
Poor use of waterfront
Lack of parking
$80 million not full price
No more Casino money for other groups
City debt will balloon to over $140 million
No money for other projects

What could be done with $80 million?  Here are some examples:

  1. a cheque for $1,650 to every household in Nanaimo (48,475)
  2. a train running from Victoria to Nanaimo
  3. free transit
  4. state of the art recycling centre
  5. more cycling/walking routes

There is so much more that could be done to help the poor in our community. One in five children in Nanaimo live in poverty.


The AVICC (Association of Vancouver Island Coastal Communities) 2017 Annual General meeting will be held in Campbell River April 7-9th . Some of the topics that Nanaimo Council will raise at the meeting are:

  • Airbnb
  • adult basic high school courses
  • recycling
  • animal traps
  • marina lease rates

Approximately $15 million is collected every year on recycled containers. Some of this money could be put to use in local communities to further recycling efforts for items such as plastic bags.

Downtown Revitalization Fund

People have until March 31, 2017 to put forward applications for funding  events to be held in Downtown Nanaimo. Before the City would give approximately $250,000 to the DNBIA every year but now any group can apply for funding for their event.

Fire Plan

Every fiscal quarter the Fire Chief used to give a report to Council on the fire stats but no more. Also, there have been no reports to Council from the RCMP. Why don’t they come to council with these reports? The fire and police budget account for a large portion of Nanaimo’s taxes and people should know what’s new,  especially since we are having an opioid crisis.

There are four fully staffed fire stations in the City. The last fire station built was in 2010 at Chase River. There was a fire station planned for Hammond Bay Road but that station was cut from the budget.

There is a goal of a 6 minute response time but this is not possible for areas such as Hammond Bay, Westwood, Jingle Pot and Duke Point. No new staff additions are planned.

Ice Hockey Propaganda

This Nanaimo ice hockey rink fiasco brings back memories of the U.S.S.R. The Red Army Hockey Team was a propaganda machine run by the Soviet military. Of course it was 100% government funded.

Why would far right politicos want a $80 million dollar building to play ice hockey in that is 100% taxpayer funded?  Have they gone mad or is this a Russian plot?

Cuvier’s Beaked Whale; Parksville Plastic Bags; Closing Public Landfill

In January, Nanaimo Council and Parksville Council heard two presentations regarding garbage waste and a request for a ban on single-use plastic bags.

What is the RDN’s garbage plan? Is the incinerator a go?

Sort, Recycle, Burn, Bury garbage?

Here are some of the highlights of the RDN’s new garbage plan presented to Nanaimo Council on January 23, 2016:

The ‘trash’ talk was left to end of the meeting at 10:30pm.  Possibly trying to bury a hot topic?  The RDN is now at Stage 2 of their four stage plan.  They are getting to the end of looking at garbage options.   The ‘Stage 2’ results goes to the RDN board in the summer for a vote and then approval by the province.

What are the Stage 2 options that the RDN has looked at over the last 2 years? Some of these are:

  • non-deposit glass at curbside
  • yard and garden waste at curbside
  • education of waste diversion
  • hazardous waste and demolition waste

In 2004 the goal of zero waste was identified.  Residents are producing 68% less garbage than the 1980s but there are more people now than back then. Residents produced 347kg (756 pounds) of garbage per person in 2016, compared to 1100kg (2,425 pounds) in 1980.

A budget of $300,000 is estimated to be needed for a new education program to address residential and commercial users to get people to sort their garbage, and produce less.

Commercial garbage is a BIG problem

The diagram below shows that commercial waste is not being sorted or recycled. Paper is still ending up in the landfill and so is compostable organics! Why? Stores and malls are not doing a very good job, compared to residents.

15% of paper from commercial waste is still ending up in landfill

Closing Public Landfill

During the RDN waste manager’s presentation it was repeated several times that the private sector is better than the public sector at sorting waste.

According to the manager, the RDN plans to get rid of the public landfill and have people take their waste to a private operator. Is this leading up to an incinerator in Cedar?

Metro Vancouver regional directors released a short list of potential incinerator sites in December 2016. They plan to build as many as three waste-to-energy plants in or outside the region by 2018. Is Nanaimo on the list?

Commercial haulers are taking Metro’s garbage to Washington state. The Cache Creek landfill which received the bulk of Vancouver’s garbage, is scheduled to close at the end of 2017. It has been in operation since 1989.

Council Chatter:

Bestwick:..waste dollars?…

RDN: …business is better at diversion than the government…DBL pulls out way more stuff than we do…we can give them more motivation to pull more materials out…if we could set up a fee differential…so for example, if [commercial] waste haulers could pay a lower rate than others the waste would flow more through those businesses…they are better at diversion…they end up setting up more waste streams…it is a way to change the structure….so we can drive the waste through business…

Bestwick:…education?. .Business does it and does it well…only 6% target for education…

RDN: …education first…regulate sector…the idea is anyone hauling waste for profit is to be a licenced operator…by licencing haulers we can give them a lower fee for disposal…now they have to pay the same price as everyone else…If we can change that then people will give them their waste…1/3 of the waste taken to the transfer station comes from individuals in cars and pickup trucks…If we can get people to take their waste to [private dump] they can sort through it better than we can or do…

Bestwick: I’m sold.

Hong: …it is really interesting how this is being presented…yes, companies do a good job of diversion…We should go to a ‘condo style’ system…we are talking about going to an automated system with 160-litre bins…so we are talking about people producing more garbage…How are we going to divert more without a process?…all garbage has to be sorted BEFORE it gets to the landfill…

RDN: I agree.

Yoachim: …can we create energy with the landfill?

RDN: Yes, we do…we get gas [from the landfill] …turn it into electricity …doing it for six years…

Wellington School Renovation

McKay: …City of Nanaimo doesn’t have a requirement to do recycling for commercial buildings…Cameron Island is a great model…we need teeth and regulations…if you go to company A with a request for X number of recycling bins you are going to pay 4 times as much as Company B who just brings in just one bin…

Industry is telling us they need regulations and enforcement…we need the province’s backing…construction and demo waste… You watch DBL do their waste and everything is separated…

Wellington School renovation went to one contractor who farmed out the construction and demo waste to a 1 bin operator who sent all the waste unsorted to a [landfill] in the Fraser Valley… entire houses that are taken down in Nanaimo are burned up in Cedar…This is what people are competing with…

Automatized [curbside] system is costing $110 per year per household…in Kelowna they have a private operator who charges $160 per household for pick-up…

RDN:…when the antique coke machine came into the landfill and the beverage company wanted to buy it…we couldn’t sell it…we don’t have the ability to adjust policies [on the fly]…We [the RDN] can’t compete with the private sector…

Parksville: BAN single-use plastic bags

Two speakers from Communities Protecting Our Coast (CPOC) came to speak to Parksville Council in January. They made a request that the City of Parkville ban single-use plastic bags. They covered many reasons why action is urgently needed.  CPOC mentioned that they have added their concerns to the RDN’s Stage 2 garbage plan.

Why CPOC wants to ban single-use plastic bags:

  • Single-use bags or other plastic bags are not recyclable at curbside
  • They are used for an average of 12 minutes but they are here forever
  • To make 9 single-use plastic bags is equal to runing a car for 1 kilometre
  • Costs for landfill and disposable adds up to more than $90 per person per year

Adding up all the costs of  extraction,  disposal, and environmental impacts are too large to dismiss. The UN secretariat has recommended a global ban on all single-use plastic bags.

A tax or a ban on plastic bags?

In 2002, Ireland became the first country to enforce a plastic bag tax. This 25 cent fee was started because the country was using 1.2 billion shopping bags a year and it was causing a waste problem. The tax resulted in a 94% decrease in plastic bag use. In the first year the plastic bag tax raised $9.6 million for environmental initiatives.

Montreal has voted to ban single-use plastic bags as of 2018. The 82 municipalities that make up the metropolitan area of Montreal agreed unanimously to prohibit “the use of single-use shopping bags which are not biodegradable, or fully recyclable” effective Earth Day on April 22, 2018, according to a resolution.

Delhi has also just passed a ban on single-use plastic bags. It was introduced after complaints about the illegal mass burning of plastic at three incinerators, which were blamed for causing toxic air pollution.

Seven Canadian municipalities have banned single-use plastic bags:

  1. Leaf Rapids, Manitoba
  2. Thompson, Manitoba
  3. Wood Buffalo Regional Municipality, Alberta
  4. Huntingdon, Quebec
  5. Deux-Montagnes, Quebec
  6. Brossard, Quebec
  7. Montreal, Quebec

Where is BC on this list? Tofino has recently banned plastic straws. Victoria is making steps to ban plastic bags.

Will Parksville and Qualicum Beach take action? What is the RDN planning to do?

Nanaimo Recycling Exhange

In order to recycle plastic bags people have to drive to the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange (NRE) on Kenworth Road or the Regional Recycling depot on Old Victoria Road.  Imagine if we could spend $80 million on a state-of-the-art recycling depot rather than an Events Centre? It could have a world class research and development facility in partnership with VIU and provide many local jobs.

Local governments have been neglecting our recycling centres. Is that to make way for a billion dollar incinerator to pollute our land and water?

Whale starved by plastic bags

On January 28, 2017, an emaciated and sick Cuvier’s Beaked Whale beached itself on the shores of the island of Sotra, about ten miles west of Bergen, Norway.  Despite the best efforts of the locals, it would not budge. When experts arrived, they realized the whale was in distress, so it was euthanized.

Sotra Islanders stand near Cuvier’s Beaked Whale that had beached itself

At first, scientists didn’t even know what type of whale they were looking at. These beaked whales are so rare and scientists know so little about this type of whale that there are no estimates of past or present population size.

What was the cause of the whale’s pain? When zoologists examined the dead whale, they found its stomach was choked full with plastic bags still with their Danish and English labels visible and large amounts of microplastics. Zoologist Terje Lislevand of the University of Bergen said that the whale most likely had been unable to digest any real food since September. The whale had starved to death. Its intestine had no food.

Normally, this species of whale would only be found in deep water of over 3,300 feet (1,000 m) and avoid shallow coastal areas. What does that say about the plastic garbage? It’s not just floating on the surface – it’s down deep.

Some of the 30 plastic bags that were found in the Cuvier Whale’s stomach.

This whale’s skeleton is going to be preserved and displayed at the University of Bergen, alongside those plastic bags that caused its death.

Unfortunately, whales aren’t the only casualty of plastic bags. Seabirds are attracted to algae-covered plastic because it smells like food.

Dr. Dudas, a VIU biology professor and Canada Research Chair in shellfish aquaculture ecosystems, directed a study of clams and oysters on Vancouver Island.  Some 3,000  shellfish were tagged in July 2016 and they have found plastic in these organisms.

Plastic in our food

Even when the plastic does break down, fish and plankton feed on these broken down plastic bags. Eventually those tiny fish get gobbled up by larger fish which end up on a dinner plate.

Solutions to our plastic addiction

What did people do before plastic bags? In the old days, customers purchased their produce (sometimes with a bit of dirt still on it) and it was wrapped in brown paper. You didn’t have plastic packaging.

Canada’s first zero-waste grocery store is on Salt Spring Island, called Green. Customers bring their own jars, boxes and bags.

One store owner in Iran estimated he gave out 249,600 plastic bags to his customers – about 80 kilograms (over 176 pounds) every month. He decided to give out ten cent cloth bags for free to his customers and he soon found that people were coming back with the same cloth bags to be refilled.

“People often say to themselves that it will make no difference if only one person refrains from using plastic bags. Does that ever cross your mind?”

“I’ve always tried to follow a verse from Rumi that says, “No matter if you are the only one who wants peace and light in a world where everyone else is lost in the darkness of war, you are responsible to light your own candle.”

Events Centre Referendum; DNBIA; BC Transit rate increase

Nanaimo Council had the longest meeting in local history! The meeting started on Monday and ended on Wednesday. That is because the meeting was ‘recessed’ on January 23rd. On Monday they didn’t have the referendum question ready and the location of the Events Centre at 1 Port Drive was just announced.

Talk about a rushed project. The panic button has been hit, folks. Here are highlights from Monday night:

DNBIA funding cut

On Monday night there was a presentation from the DNBIA to give a report on what they were up to.

At the end of the meeting there was a very distraught man who came to speak at question period. He mentioned that the DNBIA gets $250,000 from the City and all the money goes to administration. Meanwhile, his business is going broke because the area of downtown he is in is turning into a ghetto and it needs desperate help. He was just short of calling the whole organization a fraud. The Mayor cut the speaker off but the speaker didn’t need a microphone to be heard. There is nothing little merchants could do because Port Place Mall and Coast Bastion Hotel have the bulk of the weighted votes in the DNBIA.

Late last year a number or merchants came to Council to voice their objection to the DNBIA and how the money was being spent.

At the end of the week Nanaimo Now reported that the City will cut the funding to the DNBIA. But, the $250,000 paid by the 400 members of the association will continue to be collected for the next 23 months.

Chinese Societies ask for help

There was a presentation from a group representing Chinese societies in Nanaimo who requested $5,000 to re-open a Chinese school and fees be waived for the following:

  • 2017 property tax of 850 Hecate Street
  • rental fee of Beban Park
  • Port Theatre administration fees

They hope to sell 600 tickets to the Chinese New Year event next week. The money raised would help out the following groups.

  • Nanaimo Chinese Culture Society est. 1982 – 100 members
  • Nanaimo Chinese Freemasons est. 1929 – 40 members
  • Nanaimo Chinese Women Society est. 2015 – 300 members
  • Nanaimo Asian Professional Association est. 2015 – 100 members

Council thanked them for their work in the community and advised that they could apply for the appropriate grants.

Adult Basic Education cuts

Two post secondary students requested a letter from Council to be sent to the BC government to fund adult basic education.

At one time it was free to upgrade your high school education. Now it costs $320 per course. This is having a negative effect on VIU. There has been a 55% drop in students at the Powell River VIU campus since the funding cuts.

All councillors voiced their objection to the program cuts and said it hurts those in need.

Tourism Nanaimo is gone

Tourism Vancouver Island has signed a one year service agreement to provide destination marketing for the City of Nanaimo.

City of Nanaimo is in the process of signing up someone to operate the Visitor Centre which re-opens in April.

Events Centre

The Wednesday night council meeting got off to a rocky start.

One delegation wanted to speak twice – once for the Protection Island Resident Association and once to air his own opinions. Council had to put this to a vote. Councillor Hong didn’t want to let the man speak twice saying he spoke last week. Councillor Brennan said that it is inconvenient for people living on Protection Island to get to the meeting, and let the delegation speak.

The results of the vote were:
Against hearing the delegation: Councillors Kipp, Thorpe, Fuller, Hong,
In favour of hearing the delegation: Councillors Brennan, Pratt
Abstaining: Councillors Yoachim, Bestwick and Mayor Mckay

After the vote Councillor Bestwick said he wanted to speak but Mayor McKay cut him off and Councillor Fuller yelled out he wanted to speak too.

After all of that hullaballoo the delegation spoke at the end of the meeting for five minutes!

Councillor Kipp said (while lifting his left nostril) he had better places to be – such as at a restaurant with his wife who was having a birthday, so he would be leaving early. Councillor Kipp was also absent from Monday’s meeting.

Nanaimo Events Centre proposed for 1 Port Drive (red dot)

March 11 –  referendum

Council approved the referendum question on Wednesday as follows:

“Are you in favour of the City of Nanaimo Council adopting Loan Authorization Bylaw 2017 No. 7237 which will authorize Council to borrow a sum not exceeding $80,000,000, repayable over a period of no more than 20 years, for the development and construction of an event centre that will include an ice arena and other related entertainment, cultural and recreation facilities?”

That is not a question — it is a paragraph!

Why not a simple question such as:

Do you want the City of Nanaimo to borrow $80 million to build an Events Centre at 1 Port Drive?

Yes? or No?

Borrowing $80 million

There was a presentation from the CFO (Chief Financial Officer) on where the $80 million would come from.  A report from Ernst and Young was referred to regarding the risks of the project.  Some of the risks raised in the report:

  • lack of attendance
  • lack of luxury seat sales
  • high costs of management
  • lack of events held

The report based the revenue to be generated on 80 to 130 events being held per year.

Where will the $80 million come from?

A loan will be taken out for 20 years at an interest rate of 3%.  It is estimated the loan payments would be about $5.4 million per year plus operation fees. Plus $200,000 a year is needed to maintain the building.

Funding would also come from the following areas:

  • ticket surcharge fees
  • hotel taxes (hotels would have to agree)
  • general taxes
  • casino revenues

As far as the design of the building the CAO commented that it may not be a First Nations longhouse design theme as shown in the drawings.

The CFO made a bold statement that there would be no increase to taxes or cuts to services because of the new debt!

Council Chatter

This mega project generated zero debate! Before voting on the borrowing motion some Councillors came to life.

In favour of borrowing were:
Councillors Bestwick, Hong, Yoachim, Thorpe, Fuller

Against borrowing were:
Councillors Pratt and Brennan

Brennan: …using property taxes to fund everything is onerous…gas tax …It was Jack Layton who convinced the government to share the gas money with local governments…To tell us spending that gas tax money is not spending taxes is a shell game…it is to assist our public infrastructure…it is local tax money…casino money…we said yes to gambling and that has some negative effects in our community…We need that money to fund programs…Now we are spending that money on an Events Centre…don’t have the solid facts…I support the referendum…but can’t support the financing of this project…

 Pratt:…I agree with Councillor Brennan…The gas tax shouldn’t be used in this way…I can’t support this …

Thorpe: …I support the borrowing bylaw…this Events Centre will need subsidies …it’s just moving the money around…we don’t have private investor…it will be taxpayer funded…it will have an effect on future projects …there probably will be future tax increases for other projects …

Hong: …we don’t have a choice… we need a bigger tax base and this Events Centre will do this…our schools are shutting down.. this Events Centre is an infrastructure project…this Events Centre is critical for the downtown…

Bestwick: …this is an investment…the 1940’s arena was built by residents…in the last 80 years we have spent $10 million on big projects…Nanaimo Aquatic Centre is most popular…

CAO: (suggested reworking the motion on debt borrowing)

Brennan: …this is too much on the fly…

Snuneymuxw First Nations

No concerns of the SFN were raised. Where were the Councillors’ questions?

SFN Acting Chief Douglas White III told that an archeological report in 2015 “locates some of our longhouses right through the middle of (the Events Centre site).” Under SFN’s 1854 treaty with the Crown, the Snuneymuxw village is recognized and protected.

Public is VERY Worried

Apparently there were three sheets for people to sign up to speak about the Events Centre. People were quickly cut off if they wandered off the boundaries of the topic. Councilor Hong jumped in after every speaker to challenge any negative comments as the ‘defacto’ attack man.

Over the course of the evening 13 people spoke about their various concerns.  Here are some the comments:


1) Is this the best location for the Events Centre?

2) What happened to the proposed transit exchange? Where is the transit exchange going to go?  What happened to the idea of a Granville Island type of project? How can we not have a tax increase?

3) Nob Hill neighborhood – Traffic congestion concerns.  Will taxpayers pay for a parkade?

Kipp: …people walk to the downtown for many events…fireworks…

Delegation:  … walk?… to a hockey game in the winter? …dark?

Hong: … port authority…robins parking…walking is great… less parking now…

4) Are other Events Centres generating revenue? Why no option B?  No private investors?

Mayor: … no private operator has come forward…

Bestwick: …not all Event Centres are profit generators…

Staff: …different contracts for every Events Centres…some have subsidies…

5) Can this Events Centre run by revenue it generates? Or will it need our funding?
What about?

  • the FULL price of this project?
  • the size of this Events Centre?
  • mine shafts in the area?
  • foundation of the building?

Hong: …building is going to four stories high…

Mayor: …Moose Jaw is great …

6) How much land does the City have down there? (28.5 acres) Has the City considered a joint venture with another organization? Sports school or Sports medicine?

Mayor: …you are off topic…

RCMP funding and Fire Hall

7) It was stated earlier that there would be NO new taxes and NO cuts to services…this council created a fund for the Events Centre with a 3.3%  tax hike and cut $700,000 from the RCMP fund…that is new taxes and a cut in services…local programs will be cut…casino money will be taken away from programs…redirecting money…You can’t take money out and not cut services…$44 million raised through the casino money…that money is being taken away…

Staff: …tax increases will be over time…built into 5 year plan…money moved from general revenue…gas tax money…

Mayor: …casino money should go into a legacy fund…like the Richmond Oval…

Speaker: $700,000 out of RCMP fund going somewhere else?

Staff:  ….Yes, we are decreasing our services…

CAO: …over last 10 years the RCMP has had a surplus budget…no cuts…

Speaker: What about the plans for the Hammond Bay Fire Hall?…

CAO: …Hammond Bay Fire Hall is not on the plans…

8) You are using the wrong model. Input output model not good. A better model is cost- benefit model. The Clippers are going to leave. One team leaves one comes. What’s the difference? It doesn’t increase the pool of money. This will only generate 57 jobs! You are spending $80 million to get an extra $2.4 million? Not smart growth. one is here in the winter…57 jobs is good…

Fuller: …What brings people to town?…the fast ferry has failed four times…I want this community to grow…

Contaminated Soil; Funny numbers

More delegations came to speak raising some good questions:

1) What about  soil contamination on the site? Coal mine under this site? Where will the money come from? How will we pay for this? What happened to the south downtown plans?

Hong: …$80 million uses 26% of our debt…

Staff:…we are increasing our debt from 12% to 26% …room to borrow more money if there is emergency…

Mayor: …VICC will be paid off in 2028…

2) A request for a copy of the reports on the Events Centre was made and the response was that it’s still confidential. How can people make informed decisions when they don’t have the most important financial information? Voting stations? We would like to request  scrutineers at polling stations.  An extra polling station is needed  in the south end because of the number of people without cars.  Need a polling station at the hospital and at the larger elder care facilities. Consider mobile polling station on days of advanced polls.

Staff: …people can  mail in ballots….someone volunteers to do this

Mayor: …how about polling stations at shopping centres?… (swivels head)

4) You have to get the money from taxes. Phase 1 and 2 reports are not accurate and are deceptive. The Ernst and Young report is based on misleading numbers. Victoria has only 30 events per year; how can we project to have 80 to 100 events per year?

1) Change the question to say $160 million rather than $80million.  That’s how much it will cost. Do the voters know how much taxes will go up?

Fuller: …I had a massive heart attack a while ago and shouldn’t be here tonight…

Question Period

Why is 1 Port Place not on the BC Assessment role?
How can you borrow a lot of money and it doesn’t cost you anything?

BC Transit fare increases

Youth and seniors could be facing an increase of 75 cents per transit fare in September.  BC Transit is giving three options. Each proposes to increase fares for youth and seniors.  There will be no more paper transfers by September 1, 2017. What do you think? Send them an email to or send a letter to RDN Fare Proposal, P.O. Box 9861, Victoria V8W 9T5.

 Current FaresOption 1Option 2Option 3
Senior / Youth$2.25$2.50$3$3
Senior / Youth tickets (10)$20.25$22.50$27$27
Senior/ Youth monthly pass $41$40$40$50
$2.50 $2.50$3$3
Adult tickets (10)$22.50$22.50$27$27
Adult monthly pass $67.50$65$70$70
VIU Student monthly pass$55$65$70$70
VIU Student semester pass$176$170$182$182

Stealing from City? Surplus Equipment; Nanaimo Events Centre; Jazz

Monday’s Council meeting started off with the Nanaimo Mayor reading the riot act before the agenda item regarding the referendum vote on the Nanaimo Events Centre.  Later in the evening, grants were handed out  to arts and culture groups. Another hot topic on tap was the purchasing policy and the possibility of surplus equipment growing legs! (See video below).

March 11 Events Centre Vote

The proposed NEC will go to referendum on March 11, 2017. The referendum will cost $130,000.  All councillors voted in favour of holding a referendum.

Six people spoke about their concerns regarding the proposed NEC. All spoke in favour of a referendum except one. Some very interesting questions were raised. Here are the highlights from the delegations who came to speak:

Speaker 1:

Not one of you campaigned on this Events Centre. The report was prepared by developers of events centres. This is a one-sided sales pitch and an excuse to build a centre for rich WHL owners.

The $86 million price tag is just a drop in the bucket. The price doesn’t include land remediation, infrastructure, WHL team subsidizes, plus we have to borrow all the money and pay interest on it. There are so many other areas which need attention in the City of Nanaimo.

There has been a lot done to see what the waterfront area can be. We need the full picture presented to the taxpayers. I feel like I am speaking tonight to the de-facto ‘yes’ committee. I would like to see a referendum.

Speaker 2:

Don’t hold a referendum! Restart the process. Improve community consultation. The process is divisive. The referendum process creates winners and losers. It is either a yes or no.

This is a 1950’s style consultation process.  We have moved beyond that style. Community planning can include productive discussion sessions involving citizens. Use this process as a community building process.

Hong: …we tried that with colliery dams…

Yoachim: …you can’t please everyone…I support a referendum…

Speaker 3:

The process has been biased and rushed. We have to have a referendum now. Too many WHL events centres are costing taxpayers money year after year. We had a proposal for a private events centre and now we have this.  Too much debt will be put on our taxpayers.

Speaker 4:

I feel that some of the speakers here tonight have been treated quite rudely by a few of you [Council]. You used this opportunity to rip people apart. I will not respond to rudeness.

We need a referendum. The consultation notice is totally flawed. By the time I got the notice in the mail about the public open houses they had already happened. Most people I had talked to had not received a written notice at all.

The process was too rushed and in favour of the centre which is no surprise because the consultants hired to present this proposal are also in the business of building event centres.

This is just a sales pitch which we had to pay for. Is this the only solution for the waterfront lands? Most cities lose money on these events centres. Some of you have made up your minds. Keep your minds open, please.

One councillor I talked to said they wanted to have a legacy for future generations. When I asked if he would like to see anything else he said no. He had only one project in mind and that is the events centre.

Building this events centre would mean that many other projects could not be completed because we would be stuck paying for the NEC for years and years.

Other City improvement projects would not get done. We could do so much more. Other projects would attract much more to the City. This process is flawed.

Bestwick: …were you referring to me?…

Speaker 4: Yes…

Bestwick: …I would love to see an Imax, a Science World, a mineral pool, to replace the outdated Beban pool, I would like the workout gym at the Beban pool located at the ground floor because no one even knows it is there, at Departure Bay – knock down the activity centre there and put in a YMCA…

…if the referendum doesn’t go through, I will be back here with a proposal for an Imax, a new pool at Beban,..remember closing Beban pool? I want everyone to know I would like many new things and opportunities for this City and if this doesn’t get approved then I will be back March 12 with those 5 things I mentioned…

Speaker 4: …glad to hear that…we are focused on only one project now…how can we get behind other projects when this project is so huge and expensive?…

Hong: ..Council went through a plan and this project was on the list …we didn’t just pull this project out of a hat…We all got together and we had 52 items on the board and we eliminated the projects we were not interested in and this project was one of the top 5 projects on the list…we just didn’t say let’s build an events centre out of nowhere….the public knew when we selected the items …

This is what councils do; we decide what needs to be done…

I would like to see a gondola, a tunnel to Newcastle, a bridge to Vancouver because I hate BC Ferries…maybe a bridge to Gabriola but not to Protection Island no offence…there is a lot of things we want to do…

…we pick one thing at a time…if this fails then it falls off the list and then something else like Bestwick says will pop up on the list and we will focus our money on it…

Speaker 4: … I think you were just giving your opinion and not listening to me…you have a microphone every week; this was my opportunity to be heard…

Where are people going to park?

Speaker 5:

This project is the MOST expensive in Nanaimo’s history. We need information. Where is the traffic and parking study? It is not on the city website. I thought it would be available by now. There will be no additional parking – what about a parkade?

What about when people attend events at the Port Theatre and the Vancouver Island Conference Centre – where is everyone going to park?

How will this work? The underperformance of the conference centre is blamed on the lack of a hotel. In the future the failure of the Events Centre could be blamed on the lack of parking.

The business plan and operating plan is marked confidential and has disappeared from the City’s website. We paid for this study.

How much will NEC cost to operate?

Operational costs? This Events Centre could cost $2 million a year to operate. This Events Centre is not supposed to turn a profit for three  years.

We need a business plan…the economic impact studies have not bothered to look at the risks of this Events Centre; there are no details of this in the report…This report needs to be made public…We need answers to some basic questions.

Staff: …information will be ready this week minus the traffic and parking study…by February 6th all the financial information should be available…

Hong: Would you like to hear my comments about parking? The last delegation didn’t want to hear my answers. Everyone thinks parking is a huge problem…but we have lots of land…we can lease land from Island Ferries…we are going to get that going… railway lands can be leased…the potential for a developer to make a parkade is available…

Speaker 6: …you have made plans for the Events Centre and you haven’t made plans for the parking?

Hong: No…there is parking there…

Speaker 6: …Who is going to build the parkade?

Hong: …private developer…

Speaker 6: …we will have to pay to build a parkade….just like what happened downtown …we should be factoring in these costs of the parkade now…

Hong: …we make money from a parkade…

CAO: … transportation study will be made available soon….

Speaker 6: …there are lots of unanswered questions…

Pratt: …when will all the  information be on the website? After February 6th?

CAO: …some things can be shared…some can’t…

Speaker 6:

We have already spent considerable money on the events centre proposal and have seen some design drawings. This project is rushed. This events centre is a want rather than a need. Do we want all our taxpayers dollars to go into this project? That is the big question.

Mayor: …lots of questions…construction costs…we are still trying to digest this…by March 11th there should be no questions[!]…

Hong: …What does $130,000 get us?…

Fuller: …I never made a concrete decision whether I want it or not…some people think it is rushed some don’t…When we talk about democracy failing I have seen it with Colliery Dams…

Purchase policy: where does surplus equipment go?

The City is updating its purchasing policy – a recommendation from the Core Services Review.  The new purchasing policy and purchasing power bylaw passed all three readings.  There were no environmental and social purchasing policy guidelines included.

Voting in favour were: Councillors Hong, Yoachim, Bestwick, Thorpe, Fuller.
Voting against were: Councillors Kipp, Brennan and Mayor McKay.

Speaker 1:

One concerned resident spoke of a lack of input from vendors regarding the purchasing policy. Other areas of concern were:

  • bids not public after being received
  • bids from foreign countries
  • point system not fair
  • no whistleblower policy
  • material in-kind  donations

The speaker questioned how surplus items are being disposed.  There is no surplus equipment page on the City’s website. When an item gets deemed ‘useless’ what happens? [There is a good chance  it gets shuffled off and then given away].

A process needs to be in place where taxpayers can bid on old equipment. Will the City set up a Surplus Equipment page?

Council chatter:

Kipp: …problems with purchasing policy…contracts not looked at …the Corex contract was not evaluated on the same scale as all the other bids…A $8,000 a day sole source bid for Colliery Dam…disposal of bikes…the Roper investigation and Integrity contracts …Sole source contracts are a problem…I have concerns about the way things are done….will staff sit down with me? I have asked them to but nothing yet.

I have real concerns with our water audit. Sole source concerns that exclude people and companies…On Colliery Dams there were 3 split invoices…I don’t like what I saw…I will not support this purchasing policy as it stands…

Everyone is afraid to speak out or they will be treated like him [delegation]…I have been threatened…Everyone is afraid to bring up any errors …dragged thru the mud…I can’t move forward…

Fuller: …I am more confused than normal….some new some old policies?

Staff: …a total redo of the original policy… 22 procedures…new and different process…

Fuller: …How do we get feedback from people?…

Bestwick: …core services review…two consultants said that they would come back to us in 2018 with policy procedures…in May?…hear back from them?…

Staff: …a one time savings of $4 million if we change purchasing policy…

Bestwick: …we can change things after…a lot of vendors are not going to come forward …Where is the approved product list?…

[council takes 10 minute break in middle of motion]

Kipp: …Who is driving the bus?…

Bestwick:…when the open houses are held then we will get more information…

Mayor: …a social purchasing policy…where is it?… language in the bylaw that says that you can’t sell to the City for five years if you are in a lawsuit with the City…I would like to change that…

Staff: …coming soon is a social purchasing policy…

Mayor: …free trade agreements?….

Bestwick: …is this urgent?…

Staff: …we are trying to promote a local purchase policy…

Mayor: …I don’t see a social purchase policy?…

Hong: …room for change to these bylaws…

Nanaimo Jazz Festival

Nanaimo International Jazz Association said they started up two years ago. They are working on some shows for the Canada 150 celebration.

New Poets Laureate

Tina Bielo  and Kailey Defehr were chosen to be Poets Laureate. They will read their first poem at the February 6th council meeting. Mayor McKay mentioned one will serve a year and the other two years. The first poet laureate, Naomi Beth-Wakan, served three years and received $3,000.

VICC Contract

The current service agreement with Atlific Hotels is set to expire March 19, 2017. A new service provider for the VICC will be announced soon.

Recycling schedule

People are complaining that they can’t read their garbage and recycling calendars. If you want one a new one that you can read call 250-758-5222 or email the City’s Public Works department at Public.WorksInfo at and request one to be mailed out.

The recording of this council meeting was heavily chopped up; people are talking and lips aren’t moving.

Nanaimo Events Centre; SIS; Bowen Road; 3.3% tax hike

Nanaimo Council has got off to a running start. The January 9th Committee of the Whole (COW) meeting was held at VICC rather than at the City hall boardroom.

The next Nanaimo Council meeting is coming up on Monday, January 16th. The Nanaimo Events Centre (NEC) is on the agenda again along with arts and culture grants and the Rutherford roundabout.

Nanaimo Events Centre – NEC

March 11, 2017 is the date proposed for the public to vote on whether they want to pay for the Nanaimo Events Centre. The cost of holding this vote is $130,000. This would include staffing, advertising, and space rental.

Leading up to the March vote will be a major ‘propaganda’ push to sell the Events Centre to the public. This push will include open house events in north, south and central Nanaimo starting at the end of January. The City is planning a mass mail-out to inform the public of the upcoming vote.

It will be interesting to see how the ‘question’ is worded. Will ‘Joe the Taxpayer’ understand?  Let’s hope it’s not a double negative question! There’s nothing less worse than not answering a question incorrectly.

City has moved on to Phase 3 of NEC

The City of Nanaimo has outlined 6 phases for the Nanaimo Events Centre project. So far the City has completed Phase 1 and 2 for just under a million dollars. This includes design, public engagement and looking at potential sites for the Events Centre.

In Phase 3 the following are to be completed:

  • architectural design
  • financial contracts
  • legal agreements

Phase 3 involves hiring a Project Manager, Architect and Operations Manager who will work with the City of Nanaimo project team and Yes Committee. The City’s project team includes communications staff and the new Chief Sustainability Officer.

The City anticipates the NEC project will go ahead. After the public votes,  work is scheduled to begin March 31, 2017.

Nanaimo Events Centre Manager

This week, the City of Nanaimo issued a bid opportunity for the management of the NEC. The closing date for bids is January 27, 2017. The contract is to be awarded by February 13th.

Show me the money!

An interesting presentation was given on Monday, January 9th by a concerned resident. Here are some highlights:

NEC is being fast tracked and has many red flags. The numbers don’t add up. The reports provided so far regarding the NEC projected revenue are misleading. The feasibility study was inadequate at best. It showed that the NEC would have 40 hockey games and 30 event shows a year. Currently, Victoria has only 20 event shows a year at its facility. How can a smaller city like Nanaimo have higher numbers than the capital city of BC?

The reports looked at other cities with way larger populations and demographics and income levels than Nanaimo and area.

When the City was proposing a conference centre, they had wild numbers too. The VICC was said to have 70,000 attendees a year and in its actual eighth year of operation there have been 20,000 attendees. [This building is costing the City almost two million dollars per year].

NEC is being built for a WHL team, most likely the Cranbrook team which has been for sale since 2011. Why are we building an events centre for a hockey team? They will get a rent-free arena? And the kicker – for every ticket sold at the NEC, the Nanaimo taxpayer will pay $29!!

Council Chatter:

Bestwick: …$50 is not much for a ticket…there is going to be more than 8 events a year…this is not an exact science…

Hong: …Abbotsford is desperate to get shows…

Fuller: …I wish the propaganda for VICC was not allowed…whatever the people want I’ll go along with…

NEC Questions from Joe Taxpayer

Where is this Nanaimo Events Centre going to be located? If it is at 1 Port Drive – what are they going to do about the contaminated soil there? It was estimated to cost $30 million to clean up the Wellcox Lands. In the 80s, BC taxpayers paid $175 million to clean up contaminated soil on the 82-hectare Expo ’86 site. The land was then sold to a Chinese billionaire for $145 million.

If they put the NEC at the Howard Johnson hotel site how will that affect the Millstone River?

3.3% tax hike for NEC

In the dark days of December council approved the idea of having a 3.3% tax hike to pay for the NEC over the next five years (or more). This money would go into a ‘Legacy Fund’ and provide the $100 million needed for the NEC.

Also, money from the casino in town would go to this new NEC fund. What happened to using the casino money to fund local arts and culture projects? This year culture and heritage grants are worth $316,519. Some groups will be crying in their boots when the money dries up.

Safe Injection Sites -SIS

The big topic on Monday, January 9th was the temporary safe injection site located on City Hall property. The site was started up over the holidays by Councillor Fuller and a temporary trailer was later added.  The City had some concern over safety so they hired two security guards for $357 a day.

The Vancouver Island Medical Health Officer commented that VIHA has been pushing for a safe injection site in Nanaimo for two and half years. They have been warning the public they will die if they use fentanyl drugs alone.

Councillor Pratt commented that the City was sending the wrong message to the community by having security guards patrol where the trailer is located. Basically a ‘not in my backyard attitude’.

The CAO argued that setting up a SIS is not the City’s problem and VIHA should be dealing with it.

Councillor Thorpe who opposed the SIS claimed it was ‘federally illegal’.  Evidently, Thorpe was not aware of Bill C37 which passed in December 2016, making SIS legal. Mayor Mackay was also opposed to the SIS site (on religious grounds?) Councillor Brennan was absent.

In the end the SIS will stay where it is until VIHA sets up a long term solution.

New housing project

The former Mayor of Victoria waited until the end of the meeting on Monday night to ask for Council’s support of a ‘wet housing’ project across from the old Dairy Queen in South Nanaimo. He said that the ‘wet housing’ project in North Nanaimo was a success and had generated few complaints from neighbours in the area.

Monday January 16th Council meeting

Here are some topics to be discussed:

Rutherford Roundabout
The owner of 5200 Rutherford Road has agreed to a land exchange with the City at 5290 Rutherford Road. The  exchange will be for a $1.

1406 Bowen Road
There is a proposal for a 25 unit multi-family development at 1406 Bowen Road. The developer is requesting to reduce the front yard setback from 8.5 metres to 1.2 metres as well as reduce parking from 41 to 18 parking spaces.

3330 Stephenson Point Road
A new home is about to be built at 3330 Stephenson Point Road. The builder has asked to  reduce the watercourse setback from 15 metres to 6.79 metres.

515 Milton Street
A 25-unit housing project is proposed for 515 Milton Street. The builder has asked for a reduction in parking stalls from 25 to 19 and elimination of loading spaces.

Arts Culture Grants
2017 culture and heritage grants are being awarded for a total of $316,519. Thirty community group projects are to benefit. The largest amount goes to the Vancouver Island Symphony.

7 Temporary public art projects
There were 22 outdoor public art proposals presented to the City from across Canada. Seven projects were selected for a total of $25,000. These art pieces are to be located at the waterfront walkway and installed in May. Here are two pieces that will be coming. You will have to go for a walk and find the others this spring.

New Temporary Art for the Nanaimo waterfront in 2017
A life buoy made from old rope – coming to waterfront in May 2017


City of Nanaimo Sues the Mayor

The City of Nanaimo is suing its own Mayor. Is that not like the dog chasing its own tail? It is said that Mayor McKay helped a former City employee with her wrongful dismissal grievance by providing a confidential email.

This employee had spent over forty years at City Hall with a clean work record until she was essentially fired (demoted to another lower paying job) last Spring.

Could they not have had an early retirement party instead? It would have been cheaper.

Why waste taxpayers money suing the mayor? Could this be some bizarre way of shuffling money to a law firm and then onto who knows who? There is a provincial election coming up….

You can’t make this stuff up.

The Third Opium War – key drivers of the fentanyl crisis

Last year, 250 million prescriptions were written for opioids in the USA – that is enough for every adult to have a bottle of pills and more. How many in Canada?

Canada is now the second-largest per capita consumer of prescription opioids, after the United States, according to the International Narcotics Control Board (2013). Globally, North America consumes approximately 80% of the world’s opioids.

We are in the “Third Opium War”.

The first two Opium Wars weren’t just a battle over drugs – they were about control over a country and its resources.

What does the race for resources have to do with fentanyl?

Opium ruined the Chinese empire

If you take a look at Chinese textbooks today they all talk about how the British ruined the Chinese empire in the mid 1800s by bringing shiploads of opium to China.

China used opium paste for all sorts of medical ailments, but by and large it didn’t get abused. When the British didn’t have enough silver to pay for Chinese tea, they paid in opium that was manufactured in India. This opium could be smoked. Before long, everyone in China was smoking opium. People were going broke as all their money was being spent in opium dens.

The Chinese tried to rehabilitate the drug addicts and punish the drug pushers.  Government officials poured confiscated opium into pools of lye. But they could hardly make a dent in the problem. As fast as they confiscated the stuff, the more was unloaded from British ships.

In the meantime, China’s economy took a nosedive as workers were too sick to do anything.

Finally the emperor realized that they had to cut off opium from entering China.

When they told Britain they weren’t going to allow them into the country anymore to trade, Britain turned their gunboats on them and the first of two Opium Wars began. The First Opium War was 1839 to 1842 and the Second Opium War took place from 1856 to 1860.

“Century of Humiliation”

Chairman Mao once said that it wasn’t just a simple case of the Brits not having enough silver to pay for all the Chinese goods they imported. The Brits, he claimed, used opium as a wedge to weaken China and to take over China’s resources. The Opium Wars marked the start of China’s terrible “Century of Humiliation” at the hands of the West.

Oxycontin – Blockbuster Drug

Dr. Arthur Sackler,  “Oxy King”

Dr. Arthur Sackler, inducted into the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame, is considered the father of modern pharmaceutical marketing. Dr. Sackler and his brothers purchased Purdue Pharma in 1952. Forty years later they patented OxyContin in Canada.

Oxycontin became a blockbuster drug with profits of $30 billion.

In 2006, Purdue Pharma had to pay $634 million in fines for misleading marketing in the United States, but not a penny in Canada. Yet Canada has seen a sharp increase in overdoses and deaths resulting from the use of fentanyls since 2012, when the Federal government removed Oxycontin from the legitimate market.

For the last 20 years, doctors have prescribed opioids – drugs such as oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl and others – liberally for chronic pain.  Between 2005 and 2012, the number of people who were prescribed opioids in BC increased by 100,000. How many of those patients became addicts?

The opioid epidemic has hit Vancouver Island in a big way.

Drug overdose deaths have skyrocketed since 2007 in BC.
Drug overdose deaths have skyrocketed since 2007 in BC.

Between 2009 and 2014 there were over 1,000 fentanyl-related drug poisoning deaths in Canada, with more than half occurring during 2013 and 2014. It’s been getting worse every year. In 2016 alone, 755 have officially died from fentanyl overdoses in BC. Many believe that the actual numbers are much higher. These weren’t street people by the way – a good lot of them died indoors and the majority were over the age of 30.

Opioid Consumption up by 31%

The total number of people using prescription opioids is growing. In BC, between 2005 and 2013, opioid consumption increased by 31%! The number of new users in this province is equal to the number of people who are newly diagnosed with diabetes every year in BC, or about three times the number of people hospitalized for stroke or heart attack.

In 2016 approximately two people died every day in BC from accidental drug overdoses, and 62% of those cases were fentanyl overdoses. In small BC communities fentanyl is also an issue. Penticton had about 13 overdoses and one death over the course of two weeks in November.

The problem has become so severe that in March 2016, Health Canada removed Naxalone from the Prescription Drug List to non-prescription status so that any layperson can administer this antidote which can reverse an opioid overdose. By the time paramedics arrive on the scene, it’s often too late.

CBC reported that the 911 service has received as many as 170 overdose-related calls a day across BC. This is on top of an already strained system as you can see from the tweet above.

The BC government has set up a mobile medical unit in Vancouver where paramedics are dropping off overdosed patients who need to be revived, because the hospital emergency rooms are too full to handle these patients.

Safe injection sites

Last year the Chief Medical Officer for Vancouver Island came and spoke to Nanaimo Council about the opioid epidemic.  The City of Nanaimo set up a committee to look at the issue.  At the last council meeting in December the clock struck 11pm and council voted to end the meeting before they had a chance to discuss this epidemic, (but the Events Centre received several hours of attention that evening).

The federal government passed Bill C-37 which will make it easier for safe injection sites (SIS) to be set up in communities.

A temporary safe injection site was put up on Boxing Day in the parking lot at City Hall in Nanaimo.

Temporary safe injections sites are one immediate solution. But what is next for these people?

The BC government announced that they would ban pill presses which would stop pill-producing clandestine laboratories. But is that enough?

Researchers have been sounding the alarm that vital statistics data should be openly shared to get a better grasp on prescription-opioid related deaths.

The Bohn laboratory is dedicated to learning about opiate receptors in the brain and how synthetic opioids like fentanyl have lasting effects.

Killing the BC economy

Where is this fentanyl coming from? China. China is the primary source of supply for fentanyls and fentanyl precursors destined for the United States, Canada, and Mexico. According to the Chinese Anti-Smuggling Bureau, China does not have a  fentanyl consumption problem; therefore, fentanyls illicitly produced in China are most likely intended for export to the Americas. Customers can purchase fentanyl products from Chinese laboratories online, by travelling to China and purchasing in person, or through a chemical broker.

What would Chairman Mao think of that? Is this the start of Canada’s “Century of Humiliation”? At least in China they knew they had to say no to Britain’s narco-empire before their country was ruined. But what is Canada doing now in 2017? Will we wake up in time before it’s too late or will we just stay doped while China takes over our real estate and resources?

We’re putting Canada’s healthcare system at risk. The full cost to the Canadian health-care system of ‘inappropriate prescriptions’ to older Canadians is $1.8 billion, that doesn’t include opioids.

Someone has to take ownership of the problem. Resource extraction economies are key drivers of this fentanyl crisis. Therefore, why not get the oil companies to cough up some money to offset the cost to society?

There are only a few pharma companies that make naxalone products and they are making money hand over fist. Is this fair? Naxalone is cheap to make – as cheap as seawater some say – so why not make it open source?

Yemen, Estonia, Afghanistan, Canada

What’s happened in other countries?

Take Yemen for example – years before Saudi Arabia decided to invade, they got everyone hooked on ghat (or khat). Everyone in Yemen was chewing the stuff and every last bit of water was being used to grow it.  By the time Saudi Arabia rolled in with tanks, they met little resistance because the Yemenis were heavily addicted to ghat.

How many countries have tried to gain control of Afghanistan? Why? Because Afghanistan is rich in minerals. They have trillions’ worth of iron, copper, gold, cobalt, and lithium. Despite all of this, they are a poor country. Opium there is now cheaper than food. Out of a population of around 35 million, at least one million Afghans are now drug addicts.

Estonia is another example. They used to be part of the Soviet Union and became independent after the Second World War. Now, because of their fentanyl crisis which has been ongoing for the last 10 years, their independence is in jeopardy.

Here in BC we are in a state of emergency with the fentanyl crisis breaking our communities. This epidemic will spread across Canada.  And just like the story in Afghanistan we have the resources everyone wants. It’s all about control.

Speaking of resources, the BC government spent $716 million to build the Northwest Transmission Line to benefit a few mining companies. There was no outcry from the public about wasting taxpayers’ money on that, yet how much is the government willing to spend to deal with this opioid crisis? Certainly not $700 million.

And what happens when those mining companies say they have to bring in foreign workers because all the local people are sick from addiction?

The 3rd Opium War is here. Will our Prime Minister raise this issue when he goes to China in February to discuss free trade?

A few grains of fentanyl can kill