At the Monday, December 2, 2013 Nanaimo council meeting there was a last minute motion brought forward by Councillor Anderson regarding the proposed garbage incinerator at Duke Point.
Anderson was absent from the November 4, 2013 council meeting when the options were discussed (write a letter, amend the zoning, or allow the selection process to run its course). At that meeting, Council opted to allow the selection process to proceed.
The online agenda did not describe the motion being put forward. It was listed under Other Business: “Councillor Anderson – Motion re: Waste-to-Energy Facility.”
The topic was introduced at 9:40 pm. Mayor Ruttan waffled around unsure of whether to introduce the motion or listen to the four delegates first. Several minutes of discussion ensued on procedure.
Anderson’s motion: I move that council forward a letter to Metro Vancouver that it does not support a waste to energy facility in Nanaimo which uses garbage from outside our region and that any such application currently being considered be removed from Metro Vancouver’s process.
McKay: How can we be receiving delegations for something that is not on the agenda? How did they [delegates] know about this? How did they have time to prepare something to say? Can we hear delegates for ‘Other Business’ items in this section of the meeting?
Swabey: …Council can choose how it runs the meeting. Although it could run afoul of the delegation bylaw…
Four delegations then spoke to council. The following are highlights of Council’s response:
Kipp: I would rather listen than shut the door on the proposal —I didn’t have enough time to look at this motion. I have learned a bunch…we are going to have to do something about all this crap…I got this motion last thing on Friday and I find that disrespectful… People move here NOT because it is a beautiful place to live but because of the JOBS and we need jobs.. We have to pay for all that culture… I would like the proponents of this project to go out and talk to the public.
McKay: I want more information on this, I need more evidence. I like Kipp’s idea of a waste capital.
Johnstone: I want to know what the footprint looks like…I have more questions.. We need to hear the other side…There is no rush to make a decision…
Pattje: …It is absolutely necessary to give the proponents of the incinerator a chance to engage with the public…
Ruttan: …I don’t know if there is a right or wrong with this issue…
Bestwick: …I want to hear from a broader section of the community…
Anderson: As councillors we have all known about this garbage incinerator proposal since March. Many of us sit on the Regional District Board and voted on this issue in July and voted to say no we are not interested in this project. I have done my research, that is what I have been elected to do. Council has said we need more time. We have waited, we waited to see if we made the short list, and we have made the short list for the garbage incinerator as of November 15th. I think it is time we sent a message we are not interested in taking Metro Vancouver’s garbage. In Nanaimo we are diverting close to 70% of our garbage; in Metro they are only [diverting] 50%. My motion was sent out and all councillors received it on Nov 29th, and all replied back by 5:06pm the same day.
Councillor Anderson’s motion was defeated by Councillors McKay, Kipp, Johnstone, Pattje, Bestwick and Mayor Ruttan. Only, Councillors, Greves, Brennan and Anderson voted against receiving garbage from Metro Vancouver.
Ferries are like mobile bridges and are part of our transportation system—we need them or else our coastal communities will be cut off and ultimately die. Almost 1 million people are totally dependent on BC ferries. (This number doesn’t include businesses).
Over the past 10 years the BC ferry system has seen skyrocketing fares, devastating service cuts, decreasing ridership, growing debt at the corporation, and excessive executive compensation packages.
BC Coastal Ferry History
In 1959 the BC Social Credit government under W.A.C. Bennett took over the Canadian Pacific and Black Ball ferries in order to open up Vancouver Island and the BC coast and grow the economy.
Similarly, in Washington state, a Republican state governor was in office when the government purchased Puget Sound Navigation Company (Black Ball ferries) in 1951.
American Commission Chair Dan O’Neal said: “The reason it’s public in the first place is because private operators couldn’t make any money and a Republican governor had to take it over. The privatization argument comes from people who are not knowledgeable.”
Even back in the 1950s, they realized that a public ferry service allows transport at an economy of scale not available through private ownership.
Privatization arrives at BC Ferries
B.C. Ferry Services Inc. was established in 2003 under the Coastal Ferry Act. BC Ferries was once part of the Ministry of Transportation and then was made a Crown Corporation and now is a quasi-private company. While it provides a service on behalf of the province, it is also trying to make money. If this privatization model works then theoretically BC Ferry Services Inc. should not be receiving any government funding.
Fare increases cause ridership to plummet: In recent years there has been a 47% increase on major routes and a 80% increase on minor routes. Some runs like Gabriola have seen upwards of 90% increases. Steep fare increases have caused ridership to plummet to a 20-year low.
Fares for Seniors don’t add up: As of April 1, 2014, BC seniors (65 and older) will have to pay 50% of the passenger fare on major and minor routes, regardless of what day they travel. The 100% discount only applied if seniors travelled Monday to Thursday. They forgot to factor in that many seniors still drive and pay for their vehicles.
Last year the provincial government announced an $80 million increase in subsidies (spread over five years) to BC Ferry Services Inc. in addition to the $150 million in public funding it receives annually towards covering its $752.5 million budget (2012 fiscal actual). The forecast for this upcoming fiscal year’s expenditures is anticipated to reach $788.5 million.
Below is a comparison between Washington State Ferries and BC Ferry Services Inc.
Washington State Ferries
BC Ferry Services Inc
|Management Salary & Bonus||$5.4 million||$64.6 million|
|Number of fleets||22||35|
|Routes & Terminals||10 and 20||25 and 47|
Route cuts don’t add up: For example, cutting the Gabriola Island early morning and weekend sailings, and late night sailings on the weekends would amount to a savings of $400,000. At the same time BC Ferry Services Inc. has plans to install a new LED sign at Departure Bay which is estimated to cost approximately $400,000.
Route Fare comparison:
Gabriola to Nanaimo: $34.80 return (car + driver) 13.7 km
Port Townsend to Coupeville: $21.00 return (car + driver) 15.8 km
The Monopolist’s Supply Decision: The BC Ferry Services Inc. management’s solution is to continue to increase fares and shrink services. As a monopoly, BC Ferry Services Inc. should know that the sky is not the limit in pricing. Too high a price for fares will make people stay at home simply for the reason that they can’t afford to use the ferry system. A low demand and an inefficient and costly management system will mean that BC Ferry Services Inc. won’t ever be able to earn a positive profit.
When will taxpayers go crazy and demand action? Or will we continue to brave ocean swells in our rowboats in the wakes of empty ferries?
Sign a petition started in Powell River ask that the ferries be turned over to the Ministry of Transportation of BC.
Email the BC Transportation Minister Todd Stone and let him know what you think Minister.Transportation@gov.bc.ca. or send him tweet on twitter @toddstonebc.
On Thursday, December 5, 2013 there will be a public hearing regarding the first ever application to grow medical marijuana or ‘government weed’ in Nanaimo. The application has been received by the City of Nanaimo and has passed first and second reading at council.
Privateer Holdings, based out of Seattle, dubbed as ‘the cannabis industry’s first private equity firm’ has investors who include ranchers in Texas, farmers in Kansas and finance professionals in New York.
Privateer Holdings set up a company called Lafitte Ventures doing business as More or Les Ventures Ltd. to produce medical marijuana in Nanaimo at 100 Maughan Road in Duke Point. They plan to have the first shipment ready for April 1, 2014, when the only legal way to obtain medical marijuana in Canada will be through producers approved by Health Canada.
BC Assessment has advised that the production of marijuana for medical purposes will be considered an agricultural use and assessed in the farm category. But, producing marijuana involves an indoor growing operation.
The site that these Americans have chosen is zoned light industrial (I2). The lot is surrounded by other properties that are zoned industrial (I4).
More or Les Ventures Ltd. could have applied to have this zoned agricultural; one of the qualifying agricultural uses is medicinal plant growing. But the deadline for that application was October 31, 2013. They say they are not interested in applying for agriculture zoning but this would save them a lot of money in taxes.
What are the tax implications of granting medical marijuana production in an industrial zone?
While the City of Nanaimo may consider growing marijuana to be an industrial activity because it is grown indoors, that does not affect how BC Assessment may classify it. They will consider the OCP designation, zoning and actual use in their assessment. Given the lack of an application to BC Assessment at this point, what guarantee is there that the company won’t apply for agriculture use in order to get lower taxes in the future?
Normally the City would collect approximately $49,000 in taxes if the lot is industrial zoned and approximately $500 if zoned agricultural.
The City of Nanaimo may register a covenant to prevent the applicant from applying for farm status or prohibiting farm use but this wouldn’t be enforceable because BC Assessment classifies the land use.
Nanaimo cannot be the only municipality to face this issue. What is everyone else doing? Why would such a basic issue as zoning be overlooked? This makes a big difference to the tax base of Nanaimo.
At the November 18, 2013 Nanaimo Council meeting, Caledonia Park came up on the agenda. Staff were to provide Council with an update on options concerning Caledonia Park and the Rotary Bowl.
It looks like another land swap between the City of Nanaimo and School District 68 is taking shape again. The School District wants full market value for the land but the City of Nanaimo doesn’t want to pay the price. Meanwhile, the City of Nanaimo is already in phase 1 of rezoning Caledonia Park border area to a residential development.
1) Who owns Caledonia Park and Rotary Bowl?
2) What are the options to upgrade Caledonia Park and the Rotary Bowl?
During the council meeting Mayor Ruttan mentioned that the City of Nanaimo owns Caledonia Park, this was also mentioned in the report prepared by City staff.
This contradicts the statement by Mr. Jamie Brennan School District 68 Chair, who wrote in late August, 2013 that Caledonia Park and the Rotary Bowl are actually owned by the School District.
If School District 68 owns the land why would the City of Nanaimo be looking at doing the renovations? Has there been a land swap between August and November 2013?
Caledonia upgrades postponed:
An improvement process for Caledonia Park was presented to the Parks, Recreation and Culture Commission in 2012. This plan was to address field improvements, pedestrian and service vehicle access improvements, grandstand upgrades, lighting, and washrooms. However, in 2013, City recommended that the Caledonia planning process be postponed.
City Council was given the option of spending $250,000 on temporary upgrades for Caledonia Park, but this was voted down at Monday’s Council meeting. Instead, Council voted to put the issue to the budget committee.
The problem: nowhere to host provincial championship games for football:
The City report states:
“If Nanaimo wishes to host the BC Lions Training Camp, or a Vancouver Whitecaps professional soccer match, there has to be a venue available that offers high quality field amenities…
Two sites have been viewed in the last five to eight years as preferred locations for the redevelopment of a stadium facility – Caledonia Park and the Rotary Bowl.
The development of a lighted artificial turf field with a new stadium that seats about 1 ,500 is contemplated with the following amenities: portable seating, change rooms, washrooms, concession, ticket sales, a media/broadcast booth… Based on facilities in other communities, the cost of this [project] is expected to be in the $6 million range…“
Rotary Bowl Redevelopment Study:
Rotary Bowl is owned and managed by SD68. In 2011, the City of Nanaimo, SD68, and VIU undertook a Rotary Bowl Redevelopment Study which determined that the infield is not usable as a sports field. Also, they decided that no action would be taken on the Rotary Bowl and City efforts were directed back to Caledonia Park.
Nanaimo District Secondary School (NDSS) Master Plan:
The findings of the Joint Rotary Bowl Committee (above) contradicts the NDSS master planning process, which considers Rotary Bowl ideal for the City, School District, and VIU to consider significant upgrades.
On June 26, 2013 the School Board 68 approved the 10-Year Enhanced Fadlities for Leaming Plan. One of the key initiatives of the plan is to rebuild NDSS, and move the District Administration Centre and facilities. SD68 could then sell this unused property to the City.
In the meantime Nanaimo Council is playing strange games of ’what to do now?’ What is the real plan for Caledonia Park and Rotary Bowl?
In the end, will Caledonia Park facilities fall apart and continue to be neglected? Or is the City waiting to build a multiplex?
In the meantime, the Nanaimo Track and Field Club has signed up for a charity fundraiser to raise money for night lights. Next summer, Nanaimo will be hosting the BC Summer Games , what state will Caledonia Park be in next year?
A side note: Councillor Diane Brennan was present for the entire discussion on Caledonia Park, was she not aware that SD68 owns the land? Mr. Jamie Brennan, her husband, is the Chair of SD68.