The last Nanaimo council meeting didn’t finish until just before midnight. The bulk of the evening was taken up with the topic of axing the City jail guards. Other topics of interest were a DNBIA tax revolt, a proposal for a waterfront tourist attraction, street parking ghettoizing a new Linley Valley neighbourhood, a new $5,000 study on companies that make things out of wood, and a warning to home owners about leaky sprinkler systems.
DNBIA Tax Revolt
Seven speakers waited until 11:30pm to speak about their objections to the DNBIA (Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association) tax. All the speakers were business owners in Downtown Nanaimo.
The first speaker questioned as to where the tax dollars are going. He said that since 1988 over 300 downtown commercial property owners have to pay an extra business improvement area tax every year.
This year the downtown business owners paid $230,000 and Nanaimo taxpayers matched it with another $230,000 for a total of $460,000. The DNBIA, according to the speaker, is running a $65,000 annual deficit.
He estimated about $100,000 of the DNBIA budget is spent on six events and approximately $100,000 is spent on marketing. The other half goes to wages and administration.
What is left to clean up the deteriorating streetscape? He continued with concerns about drug use, graffiti, panhandling, sleeping and defecation. The speaker complained that the DNBIA has no minutes of their meetings.
The delegate asked the City to redraw and shrink the DNBIA boundary from which they collect taxes. He questioned the voting process as well.
Over 28 years the merchants on Victoria Crescent have paid $250,000 and Victoria Crescent presently looks like “hell” and what about other areas? Our street has paid $10,000 this year in taxes.
We started the Victoria Crescent Association to clean up some areas like the China Steps and have private security.
We get no benefit from the DNBIA. After 2008 they changed the tax collection areas. I’m down by Port Mall and we are in an industrial area. We don’t get any improvements. The value of my vote has a dollar value on it! You can’t put a dollar value on a vote. It’s an old boys’ club. We have been in business for 40 years. We are forced into paying these taxes and we have no use for it.
As a small business owner on Victoria Crescent I have to go out in the morning and clean up the street; we have a problem with panhandlers.
All you really need is an events organizer. You don’t need four people working at the DNBIA. This thing has ballooned and should be cut down.
We have lots of street people; yet all we get for our tax dollars are posters.
I asked them [DNBIA] what could they do to help build my businesses? They don’t like my business model. They wouldn’t let me advertise in their promotions. They do nothing for us. There is no bang for your buck. They spend about 90% on administration and 10% goes to events and activities. In the budget for next year you should question funding these people.
Councillor Kipp said that all they got from the DNBIA was a seven-slide presentation and seven pages with some actions. “Not a lot of meat for a report which cost the City $250,000.”
Kipp put forward a motion to request a report on DNBA spending. The motion passed unanimously.
Nanaimo Deep Discovery Centre
A group of business people waited until almost 11pm to present an idea for a new waterfront tourist attraction. They called it the ‘Nanaimo Deep Discovery Centre’.
The main speaker stated that this would not be a museum but an interaction centre that would include ocean diving and First Nations connections to the coast.
The delegation asked Council, “Do we have your support?”
Councillors Bestwick and Yoachim thought a discovery centre sounded like a good idea. Councillor Kipp said he could see a glass tunnel to Newcastle Island.
Councillor Pratt made a motion to refer the idea to staff and for the group to talk to staff about what are the next steps. By this time the CAO had departed for the evening and the COO said that Staff could talk to the delegation further. The motion passed unanimously.
Where will the Nanaimo Deep Discovery Centre go? How will the Nanaimo Deep Discovery Centre be funded? Those are two main questions that the group will look into over the next year.
Linley Valley urban planning fail
A Linley Valley resident spoke to council about parking problems on Cottleview Drive since a new Linley Valley development has been built, suggesting that the City’s urban planning ‘infill’ has failed.
The speaker said that the whole area has become an ugly parking lot. All the homes have paved front yards for parking. The residents are parking on the street. Each home has four cars each or more.
Councillor Fuller suggested that the resident file a complaint because the City only works on complaints.
The speaker said a resident shouldn’t have to complain. At the minimum the City needs to have a bylaw that prohibits campers, motorhomes and boats from street parking. (West Vancouver has a bylaw that doesn’t allow campers, boats, and motorhomes parked in driveways or on the street).
Councillor Kipp disclosed that he was involved in the design of the homes and said it is very tight in that area because the developer gave up some land for parkland. The resident said the area they gave up was a cliff which the developer couldn’t build on anyways.
Water sprinkler system leak
A home owner came to speak to council about at leak in his sprinkler system that he discovered because of corrosion in a brass shut-off valve.
He got his valve fixed but his problem was that his bill for water was $786 rather than the usual $172.
Staff advised the home owner there would have been a bill adjustment had the leak occurred between the water meter and the home.