No more live streaming Nanaimo council meetings?

Councillor Kipp made a motion earlier this year to have council meetings moved from Monday to Thursday nights.  Now there is a problem. A BIG problem.

To review, the motion was:

  • Move Council meetings to the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month.
  • Move Committee of the Whole (COW) Meetings to the  2nd and 4th Thursday of each Month.

The problem is Shaw Cable CAN’T broadcast live on Thursdays because they have other programming obligations.

The proposed change is to have the COW meetings on Thursdays at 1pm.

Mr. Swabey, the City Manager has made the following recommendations, that COW meetings:

  •  be held in Board Room in the City Hall
  •  NOT be televised or recorded
  •  become “committee” meetings and no longer like “council” meetings

If this motion passes on Monday, January 19, 2015  it will be terrible for transparency and democracy in Nanaimo civic politics.

The committee of the whole meetings are very important for all Nanaimo residents to watch. They cover all new “hot” items.  This is where people can reach out to the community and city hall when they are having problems. Everything must first go through the COW meetings. Some topics never make it to council meetings.

To rely on the minutes of the meetings is not good because these are not recorded verbatim, have little detail and are not always available.

If the COW meetings are moved to Thursdays at 1pm then who will be able to attend?

Why would the City Manager want to shut out the public? What is the City trying to hide?

These changes could come into effect early/mid March. It all depends on how Council votes on Monday.

Take Action now! Send an email to Mayor and council mayor&council@nanaimo.ca and ask that they keep all meetings recorded and televised as they are now.

Video thumbnail for kendall nanaimo
Chek News coverage of Nanaimo City manager recommendation: no tv or recording of council meetings

 

Could viral marketing challenge BC Ferries?

Recently, the Los Angeles Times published an article about the growing importance of ‘online influencers’ —ordinary people whose actions are followed by thousands of supporters on social media. These influencers have a “trusted voice” that speaks to their own personal audience.

Marketing firms like Instabrand are now including influencers as an essential part of their advertising campaigns.

In 2007, the emerging world of social media was spoofed by a video featuring a bride-to-be having a meltdown and cutting off her hair in a hotel room just an hour before her wedding. The idea of the video “Bride Has Massive Hair Wig Out” was to get attention for a new hair product.

Did we just witness a similar video with “Woman Loses Mind Learning BC Ferries are Full”? The video shows a woman screaming hysterically when she (apparently) is told that it’s too late to board the ferry at Tsawassen. According to one news report she is heard yelling, “You have no idea what it means to people” as she walks out of the ferry terminal.

Vancouver Islanders have witnessed BC Ferries services decline while the fares steadily increase.

Could this video have been the brainchild of some marketing company trying to gauge how fed up people are over BC Ferries? Maybe this disgruntled passenger might want to take a “reliable, dependable fast, passenger-only ferry service between downtown Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver” such as the proposed Island Ferries.

Councillor Bestwick mentioned at the last council meeting that getting Island Ferries up and running is a number one priority for the City of Nanaimo.

Despite all the problems with BC Ferries, it’s still a lot safer than taking a ferry in Greece.

12.8% tax increases for Nanaimo

On Monday, January 19th the new Nanaimo Council will receive the Draft 2015 – 2019 Financial Plan.

If this budget is adopted it will mean 3.9% increase in taxes for 2015.

The proposed five year financial plan will increase Nanaimo property taxes by 12.8%.  This amount will be more because it doesn’t include the taxes for water, sewer, garbage, RDN, schools and local hospital.

City of Nanaimo tax increases 2015-2019

20152016201720182019
1.8%3%4.7%2.1%1.2%

In 2015 Nanaimo residents will pay 14.5% more for the following core services:

  • Water rates 7.5%
  • Sewer 5%
  • Garbage 2%

What is causing the tax increases? Staffing is the largest cost including wage and benefit increases for:

  • City of Nanaimo
  • Vancouver Island Regional Library
  • RCMP (3 additional members)
  • Fire Station staff (4 additonal staff in 2016)
  • (The City of Nanaimo eliminated 3 management positions savings $359,000) *price of settlements not included

Other reasons for tax increases are because of asset management, debt repayment and inflation.

For a single family home assessed at $350,000 that would mean an increase of $60.84 in taxes. This increase doesn’t include schools, hospital and RDN.

Also, don’t forget the other rate hikes for 2015 such as:

  • BC Ferries 3.9%
  • BC Hydro 6%
  • ICBC 5%
  • MSP 4%
  • CPP 1.8%
  • EI 1.2%

That would bring the total tax increases to approximately 50% for 2015.

BC jobs plan and the APM Revolution

New Year. New beginnings. Is everyone ready for the APM Revolution? The world’s labour market will be dramatically changing with the coming APM Revolution. Is BC ready?

So far we have had 3 well documented revolutions:
Agricultural Revolution – farming fields of food
Industrial Revolution – introduction of combustion engine
Information Revolution – digital age

These revolutions have dramatically changed the structure of our labour force.

Automation and Nanotechnology
What is the APM Revolution? APM stands for ‘Atomic Precise Manufacturing‘. It deals with patterns of atoms and depends on nano-scale machinery.

When thinking of APM think of a machine that builds objects out of patterns of atoms just as an ink jet printer builds images out of patterns of ink.

Actually, the nano-scale technology revolution has already arrived. For example, billions of transistors can be put on a single chip. The reason APM is going to be so huge is that materials can be fabricated like never before. For example, various minerals will no longer be needed in the future. This means we won’t have to mine for them. This will change entire supply chains.

Micro-Nano fabrication - the APM Revolution
Micro-Nano fabrication – the APM Revolution

At UBC’s Micro-Nano fabrication facility they are conducting ground breaking research into new nano-scale materials and also at the Micro-machining and Nano Fabrication Labs at the University of Alberta.

Imagine people having the ability to build highly cross-linked polymers in their own homes at a low cost. Imagine you could use your home printer to produce a solar panel the size of a dinner plate which would be capable of heating your entire home.

Technological Unemployment
Compare Kodak to Instagram. Kodak once directly employed almost 150,000 people not including its extensive supply chain and retail distribution.  Kodak filed for bankruptcy 132 years later and around the same time Instagram was created by 15 people and sold to Facebook for over one billion dollars.

Those 15 people who created Instagram became billionaires.  Mr. Eastman the founder of Kodak was never listed as a billionaire.

Luddite Syndrome
The APM Revolution will cause some to try to protect their ways of old. Mr. Ludd was an English textile worker in the early 1800s who sparked a movement against the weaving machines that were taking over workers’ jobs.  Nowadays it is energy corporations and cartels who are doing their best to curtail scientific advancement in order to protect their interests.

Every sector is undergoing change from music, finance, media, retail, publishing, distribution, services, and of course manufacturing.  How can our labour force avoid becoming redundant?

LNG – BC jobs plan
Where does the APM Revolution fit in with BC’s LNG job plan? Will there be a need for many workers with increased automation?

The BC Jobs Plan was launched in September 2011. The BC government is claiming to be creating a new industry for workers in liquefied natural gas. The BC Jobs plan is to open eight new mines by 2015 and upgrade nine mines, build at least one LNG terminal in Kitimat and pipeline by 2015 and have three LNG terminals in operation by 2020. So far approximately $35 million has been spent on marketing the BC Job plans.

For those interested there is a two day conference in Nanaimo this Tuesday and Wednesday, January 13, 14th for parents and their children to discover a career path in LNG.

The BC government estimates that there will be nearly one million job openings between now and 2020 in British Columbia. Of these, 43% are technical and skilled occupations.  Given the progress of automation, are these job numbers realistic?

Energy for what?
BC Hydro is planning to meet the power demands required by new LNG facilities by building Site C.  The cost is estimated at about $8 billion. If this project is anything like Quebec Hydro then the cost increases will be much closer to $24 billion. Who will pay for this debt? The taxpayers of BC of course.

Rise of the Robots and APM Revolution
Will the worker go the way of the horse? No. But there will be a huge change in what people do for a living. Will LNG jobs be the answer for the unemployed in BC? No. Automation will make many of these jobs obsolete. APM will make many materials used today not even worth digging out of the ground.

Here are some occupations that will probably disappear in the future:

  • taxi drivers (thanks to driverless vehicles)
  • truck drivers
  • warehouse workers
  • factory workers

Here are some occupations that will probably grow:

  • communication specialists
  • propaganda multi-media producers
  • specialized intelligence officers to work in BC

2015 promises to be a great year full of new innovations and inventions that will create mega-abundance down the road.  The big question is can we close the digital divide so everyone can benefit from the APM Revolution.

Top 10 posts for 2014

This year has been very eventful. Local elections saw many new people elected to councils and school boards in Nanaimo and other mid island communities. The good news of 2014: part of Linley Valley West was set aside as a park after many years of hard work by local residents.

Here are the top 10 posts for 2014.

Looks like 2015 will be another eventful year. Will the…

  • bridge to Gabriola get approved and funded?
  • garbage incinerator be built at Duke Point?
  • Morden Mine get dug up again for coal?
  • Nanaimo have two new hotels downtown both over 25 storeys?
  • two-hour-free street parking in downtown Nanaimo be a memory from the past?

Everyone will have to wait and see what happens.