Category Archives: General

City of Nanaimo and attacks on bloggers

Unfortunately, MIN bloggers have been blocked from accessing public council meeting videos or live streaming videos on the City of Nanaimo website. This is not the first time. Ever since this council took office in 2014 Mid Island News has had a problem with being blocked.

Who knew that writing a blog on municipal politics in Canada would result in being denied access to a government website? This is on par with a third world dictatorship. To our knowledge, MIN has never disparaged any member of council on our blog nor any city staff member.

There is a code of ethics that computer professionals should follow. Municipal employees who knowingly block access to public government websites are committing a criminal offense. When documents or videos are public that means that they should be accessible to ALL of the public.

With any luck the blocking will stop with a new council next year.

Selling City Land; Carving up Harewood; 7,212 signature petition

The first Nanaimo Council meeting of September is coming up on Monday —an evening jam packed with political intrigue.  Some hot topics include:

  • selling City owned land at 2103 Bowen Road for $350,000
  • expanding/moving recycling depot to 2491 Kenworth Road
  • 3240 Fieldstone Way 3 multi-unit residential development
  • 4-lot subdivision at 314 Ninth Street
  • 30-lot subdivision at 897 Howard Avenue
  • 4-lot subdivision at Royal Pacific Way

Rezoning applications:

  • 2020 Estevan Road to Mixed-Use Corridor
  • 5030 Hammond Bay Road to Small-lot development
  • 5616 Big Bear Ridge to Duplex-lot development

Sale of City owned land on Bowen Road

At the May 16, 2016 meeting, Council provided direction to put a vacant City-owned property located at 2103 Bowen Road up for sale. The property is located on the corner of Meredith Road and Bowen Road.

Currently, this 0.191 hectare (0.471 acre) property is vacant and is zoned COR1 (Commercial Corridor Zone). It could  support a multi-family development or a cycling/transit hub.

Is the City really considering selling 2103 Bowen Road for $350,000?  According to BC Assessment the land value is $505,000; in 2015 it was valued at $449,000.

Why would the City give away such a valuable piece of land? Could this site be used as a  transit hub? How will people get around with no parking anywhere? The answer should be to plan for better transit hubs.

30-lot subdivision 897 Howard Avenue

Good-bye to the big lots and green trees of the Harewood neighbourhood. A 30-lot subdivision is planned for 897 Howard Avenue.

897 Howard Avenue – 30-lot subdivision planned

Expanding recycling depot

The recycling exchange on Kenworth Road could be expanding or moving to the lot north at 2491 Kenworth Road. Below are some plans for how the new layout would look. Note the stalls are not angled as to allow for more parking.

Why can’t the City pick all the recycling up at the curb? There are an estimated 500 a trips a day made to this recycling centre by Nanaimo residents.

2491 Kenworth Road- ideas for expanding recycling

3240 Fieldstone Way 3 multi-unit residential development

In the Rock City Road area there are plans for three multi-unit residential developments at 3240 Fieldstone Way with some zoning requests.

3240 Fieldstone Way – 3 multi-unit homes

 4-lot subdivision at Royal Pacific Way

Above Lost Lake Road there are plans for four new lots at the end of Royal Pacific Way. It appears there will be many more lots added by the time this development is finished.

More houses planned for Lost Lake Road area – Royal Pacific Way

4-lot subdivision at 314 Ninth Street

Every day the Harewood neighbourhood is changing. Four new houses are planned to replace one house at 314 Ninth Street.

314 Ninth Street -four new houses

Notice of Motions

Councillor Armstrong will ask council to vote on a motion for a report detailing accessibility for all City owned and operated facilities. This could be done with an efficient  GIS system.

Councillor Brennan will ask Council to vote on a motion to ask the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to consider changing the term of office for local governments back to three years rather than the current four year terms. Many small communities are finding the four year terms too long and costly as people have to move on and new people have to be elected.

UBCM is set to meet on September 25-29 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The theme is “Roots and Results.” How many on Nanaimo council will be attending? What will they learn?  Some serious problems are being faced by communities on the front lines such as homelessness, the opioid crisis and wildfires.

CAO Petition

A 7,212 signature petition has been submitted to Council which calls for an apology from Mayor McKay and asks that the Mayor resign because of the “violence the CAO Ms. Samra endured at City Hall”. The petition states that the CAO is an indigenous woman from Alberta.

Strange times at Nanaimo City Hall—people couldn’t wait to get rid of the last two CAOs and now once again the CAO appears to be on the way out.  What is the real story in all this mess?

Letter from Kidney Foundation

Only 23% of BC residents have registered their wishes to be organ donors. A UBCM resolution was passed to bring more awareness to organ donation. (A simple solution would be to have all residents automatically designated as organ donors and if you don’t want to donate your organs then you have to register).

Colliery Dam Park Victory; ‘Golden’ Garbage Bins; Puppy Mills

Nanaimo Council had a marathon meeting on Monday, August 14th, lasting almost six hours, going past 12:30 am.  Council covered many hot topics including Colliery Dam Park expansion, puppy mills and the Nanaimo waterfront. Councillor Kipp was absent from the meeting.

Councillor Fuller had a notice of motion regarding the Greater Nanaimo Water Lands:

“That 801, 1150, and 1151 Nanaimo Lakes Road be made parkland. That would include changes to Official Community Plan and zoning bylaws except the lands under lease with the Nanaimo Search and Rescue and the reservoir proper.”

Then it turned into a motion! Mayor McKay was about to step out of the meeting when the Acting CAO asked why they were hearing delegations speaking to a notice of motion? Was that typical procedure? Acting Mayor Yoachim and Mayor McKay shrugged and the meeting carried on. Three delegations spoke to Councillor Fuller’s notice of motion.

Speaker 1
Asked if the lands could be added to the Colliery Dams Park and was happy overall with the notice of motion.

Speaker 2
Gave a brief history of Colliery Dams and the spillway repair. Recalled how all of council voted for the estimated $10 million upgrades to the spillway. They also asked if there would be an area for ‘gnome homes’.

Speaker 3
Asked if Council would consider using money from the Canada 150 grant to fund accessible trails and washrooms for disabled people.

Council discussion:

Hong: …SFN (Snuneymuxw First Nation) want to talk about these lands?…

Staff: …staff and SFN had conversations…

Fuller: …some areas can be made accessible for the disabled…

Brennan: …consultation plans for this?

Staff: …we were going to go to the public in the fall for consultation…but if motion passes that would change…because the land would be made a park…

Brennan: …a month ago we told the public that we would consult with them and hear what they want…I won’t support designating this as a park without consultation…

Fuller: …did we not have consultation on this before?…123 people did a survey…once this becomes a park we can still get ideas from the public…

Armstrong: …as we heard from Mr. Bolin…never got the opportunity for consultation earlier…so I would like to have the consultation process…

Bestwick: …We were going to carve out a piece as a ‘sliver’ for housing…They told us in the open houses that they wanted it to be park and open space and then we chose not to listen to people…We will ask what people want it to look like…nature park…now we are voting on parks and open space…

Hong: …is the north portion officially parkland? Have we done all the bylaws yet?

Staff: …two separate bylaws coming forward on that…then on the portion south of the Parkway if this motion passes then we would bring forward an OCP (official community plan) amendment for the changes…

Hong: …so the lower portion would need an OCP amendment…then the northern portion doesn’t because it is already open space…what are the steps first?…OCP changes? …my biggest concern is with SFN and if they come forward and say you didn’t consult with us…how are we doing this?…I want to be respectful…can we do this now? and still change this?…

Staff: …if you pass the motion then the wheels are in motion…bylaws to come…

Parks Maintenance a problem

McKay: …I can’t support this…I can’t understand what the hurry is…We can’t afford to look after what we have got!…Someone said Stevie Smith Bike Park is great…but Council hasn’t given any money to look after it…No money to look after Maffeo Park…the water feature is not working…it costs $150,000 and we don’t have the money to look after it…

Caledonia Park finally got some money spent on it…The fans are still waiting for a roof over the stands…There is no money for that…$4.1 million spent buying NDSS property…Then we are going to put in a football field…A CFL-sized football field…It will need lights and turf…There are no stands, no washrooms, no change rooms, no money to look after it…

We have to STOP doing this…this thing [land] is not going nowhere…once we make it a park…then people want it accessible…you heard him…you can’t get a wheelchair to a beach…more land to look after…We never put any money into Linley Valley…Cable Bay…more parkland…What are we doing?…

Bestwick: …we own the property; it is already designated…What does it cost us?…it is in its natural state…is likely minimal…then it is preserved for future…Douglas fir zone…public wants it…stadium is off topic…City took over Beban Park in 1990 from the RDN…Linley Valley…an investment to protect an eco-system…Neck Point Park —to say that was not a good purchase?…glad we didn’t allow two 20-storey towers in a park downtown…private developers will have lots of opportunity to develop…

Thorpe: …I support this motion…makes sense…add it to Colliery Dam Park…worth protecting…we need to increase budget to enhance…Maffeo Park…Caledonia Park…recreation facilities…we have been under serving them…

Brennan: …we need to talk to people first…there is no hurry…this can be done properly…

Mayor McKay called the vote on the motion. It was a close vote!

Approved: Councillors Hong, Bestwick, Thorpe, Fuller
Opposed: Councillors Armstrong, Brennan and Mayor McKay

Council voted to include 801, 1150, and 1151 Nanaimo Lakes Road as parkland.

Trees = Wealth

Colliery Dam Park will get expanded by over 200 acres. Many people worked hard over the years to preserve the natural area of the Greater Nanaimo Water Lands.  Because of this parkland, South Nanaimo will be more desirable to live in than North Nanaimo which is facing smaller lots, more condos and high rises, school closures, more traffic congestion on Hammond Bay Road and fewer accessible parks.

‘Golden’ garbage bins

Nanaimo council voted to approve a $7.5 million garbage program which requires garbage bins that work with new automated garbage trucks. These new garbage bins will cost $4.5 million and the City plans to buy six new automated garbage trucks for $3 million.

The City already has two automated garbage trucks and will purchase another four trucks later.

Two delegations spoke about their concerns regarding the new garbage program.

Speaker 1
This is the first time this topic has come before Council where a delegation can speak to the topic. This automated garbage service will cost homeowners 30% more per year. At the same time there will be no increased level of service. The total weight of these bins is 80 pounds. This will be a hazard to the aged and infirm. The City is spending $380,000 for each new truck. This whole problem started with the poor design of garbage trucks with the green bins which was never fixed.

Speaker 2
Where do we put these bins? How do the old and weak get these to the curb?

Council Discussion

Hong: …City offers a program for seniors and people with disabilities…

Staff: …contact public works if you have problem finding a spot to put garbage bins on the street…

Fuller:apartments? what about them? …can people opt out? …

Bestwick: …$6.2 million…what are the terms?

Staff: …over a 5 year term…

Bestwick: …does the money for equipment include all of the automated trucks?

Staff: …No …$4.5 million is for the bins…$1.7million is for the additional trucks…$900,000 is coming from reserves to pay for the trucks as well…

Bestwick: …the existing garbage trucks we have are redundant…they are useless…

Staff: …we can auction them off…

Bestwick: …We have committed to purchasing the entire fleet…City has to get rid of some of the trucks because of how they were manufactured…can’t use the old trucks …

Staff: …more injuries because of green bins…

Fuller: …I get the safety issue…$4.5million for bins?!! …I won’t support this…

Hong: …rates are good…I thought we were going to phase this in…We still have the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange (NRE) to discuss…I can’t support this…

Approved: Councillors Brennan, Yoachim, Bestwick, Thorpe, Armstrong, Mayor McKay
Opposed: Councillor Hong, Fuller

Puppy Mills

A pet store merchant spoke to council in response to a letter from Nanaimo SPCA about a ban on pet sales at their store. Here are some of the highlights from the delegation:

Speaker 1
The SPCA is calling for a ban of sales of bunnies, kittens, and puppies at my store. We have been in business for a total of 39 years.

Puppies are 40% of our total sales before tax. Without puppy sales we would not be able to be in business. I don’t like being lumped in with those mainland pet stores. We have a puppy contract that people sign to ensure people don’t leave a new puppy alone for more than two hours.

We haven’t sold a rabbit in 2 years. We sold 16 kittens this year. That is a third of what the internet sites sell. The three main internet sites have banned all pet stores from advertising pet sales.

Council discussion:

Fuller:  Who can sell rescue dogs?…not everyone can afford a pure breed…I paid $800 for a pure bred husky that recently passed away…I don’t think many in Nanaimo can afford pure breed pets…

Thorpe: …we are not considering a ban on puppy sales…we haven’t debated the issue…we are not making a decision tonight…

(McKay glares at Thorpe)

Armstrong: Do you keep records of where your animals come from…?

Speaker: …private information…if something goes wrong with the dog then we stand by it…

Bestwick: …puppy contract…states no more than two hours to leave a puppy on its own…What happens when you go home?…When the store closes?…What goes on?…What is going on with that puppy? ….

Speaker: You have a point…we come in the store the next day…

Bestwick: …are any of your pets from a puppy mill?…the people you buy from?…only from breeders?…would they be selling online too? …

Yoachim: …I want to know the background of the puppies…I will need more than just word of mouth…a more concrete process…

Councillor Bestwick put forward a motion to have staff return with options on the pet store regulation issue.

Approved: All

Nanaimo Harbour meeting

What is happening with the new Nanaimo harbour group?  The SFN sent a letter to the City of Nanaimo regarding the harbour situation and here are some highlights of the topic discussed:

Bestwick: …what has staff done so far?….

Acting CAO: …staff met with Transport Canada staff from Vancouver…one meeting regarding an alternative model…we are not leading the charge…when we have a meeting with federal officials then we will meet…

Bestwick: …’direct staff to explore alternative model’…don’t know that council supports the current model…what’s the status? …Met with Transport Canada? SFN? Nanaimo Port Authority? …

Acting CAO: …in following your direction we met with Transport Canada and Doug White and Mr. Sirri…

Bestwick: ….So is it case closed?…do we need more direction? Where is this going?…

Acting CAO: …we are waiting for a response from the federal government…the case is not closed…

Yoachim: …ensure federal government is getting the message…What is the game plan? …

Fuller: …dialogue in September….I am happy…

McKay: …Transport Canada has no interest in changing the model…now SFN has to take it to a different level …Canada Marine Act…let the government know how things don’t work for them …Nation to Nation …we don’t play a role…

Acting CAO: …SFN is not going solo on this…effort of multiple parties…

Bestwick: …Nothing happens unless all parties are at the table…the case is not closed…we are working towards a different model…we need to be at the table…waterfront…most valuable land…

Armstrong: …we should stay engaged…

Brennan: …we should wait for them to call us…

Councillor Bestwick put forward a motion to set up a meeting between City of Nanaimo, SFN, Nanaimo Port Authority, to discuss next steps.

Approved: All

Question Period

The meeting dissolved slowly after midnight as one by one, council members left the chambers, leaving behind Acting Mayor Yoachim, Councillors Bestwick, Armstrong and Thorpe.

  • Is there a problem providing/affording park maintenance to Stevie Smith Bike Park?
  • Why was there no public consultation on the $7.5 million garbage program?
  • Is it legal for council to have made a decision in-camera to spend $7.5 million?
  • What will seniors do about moving the garbage bins?
  • Councillor Fuller, what changed for you that you won’t sign the code of conduct?
  • Why has the parks budget been robbed?

Heritage Hospital; Nanaimo Council Petitions; Student housing; Sale of Cats, Dogs, Rabbits

There will be a busy Nanaimo council meeting on Monday, August 14th with lots of interesting topics on the agenda such as:

  • the demolition of the old Nanaimo Hospital
  • new 220-bed student housing project in Harewood
  • infill on Hammond Bay Road
  • banning the sale of dogs, cats and rabbits at retail stores
  • new Nanaimo Port model
  • petition regarding conduct at Council

Old Nanaimo Hospital Demolition

Nanaimo Council will consider approving the application to tear down the Old Nanaimo Hospital building at 388 Machleary Street. The owner, Chartwell Retirement Residences of Mississauga, has moved residents to the new Malaspina Gardens Senior Residence at 100 Eleventh Street.  They are willing to save a lamp post and a cornerstone for historical reference but not the building.

Old Nanaimo Hospital building at 388 Machleary Street to be torn down

The Old Nanaimo Hospital building is on the City’s Community Heritage Register but doesn’t have protected status. It was built between 1925 and 1942 and is a good example of Classical Period Revival style architecture.

The hospital was designed by Alexander Henderson who, in partnership with George Grant, designed the Vancouver City Hospital in 1903. Also, Alexander Henderson designed the Freemason’s Ashlar Lodge on Commercial Street.

From 1968-1975 the building was used as the Malaspina College and then as the Malaspina Seniors Residence.

Student housing project on Harewood Road

At the corner of Harewood Road and Wakesiah Avenue there are plans for a 220-bed student housing project. Zoning would change from a single family residence to 8 fourplex buildings.  Last year the property owner Hai Yang Developments was denied permits because the density was too high for the area. The site is located across from Colliery Dams Park and the nearest bus is on Fifth Street which is .25km away.

Harewood Student housing project
Looks like the alley way will get more traffic

5670 Hammond Bay Road

There is a rezoning application to divide one lot into two lots. The lot next to it was one lot which was divided up into three lots. The City supports the infill housing plan for the neighbourhood.

Another in-fill project on Hammond Bay Road (1 lot into 2 lots)

Expansion of NRE

The NRE (Nanaimo Recycling Exchange) would like to expand into the lot north of their current site on Kenworth Road. The NRE receives free-for-service funding through the City and RDN. The cost of building sidewalks around the property is estimated at $400,000. The NRE is unable to pay for this and is requesting the City to have another option. The RDN has recently approved $300,000 for recycling.

Why can’t ALL recycling be picked up at the curb? The traffic congestion caused by people  going into the NRE is growing every year.

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange wants to expand to lot next door

Regulations on pet services and sales

The City of Nanaimo currently has no regulations regarding pet stores or animal daycares, kennels or groomers. The SPCA would like to see the City have some regulations regarding:

  • number of employees per pets managed
  • amount of space for animals
  • adequate training

The Canadian Kennel Club and Cat Fanciers Association do not permit breeders to sell  dogs or cats to pet stores. The SPCA concludes that dogs and cats sold in stores come from unregistered breeders from Canada and beyond.

Two options are proposed:

  1. Option A: ban the sale of puppies, kittens, and rabbits in pet stores
  2. Option B: no ban, implement regulations and bylaw enforcement

The SPCA is recommending option A whereas the pet stores want to see option B.

One problem with the sale of cats and rabbits is that there is no license required. Cats and rabbits roam neigbhourhoods and no one knows who they belong to. We have a struggling bird population that is in peril because of loss of habitat and feral cat over-populations and rabbits which ruin bird nesting sites.

New Nanaimo Port Model

A letter was sent to the City from SFN (Snuneymuxw First Nations) requesting a meeting to discuss an alternative to the Nanaimo Port Authority model. The new model would include SFN, City of Nanaimo, Nanaimo Marina Association and other industry users.

The SFN signed the Pre-Confederaton Treaty of 1854 and the agreement stated that the SFN would “carry on our fisheries as formerly.” However, over the last 150 years this has been a major challenge. The Nanaimo Harbour Commission was created in 1961 and the SFN was not engaged and the treaty was ignored.

The federal government sent a letter to SFN in May 2017 saying they have no interest in meeting. Prime Minister Trudeau was here the other week; it is unclear if they were able to have a meeting with him.

Two Petitions target Council Conflicts

A petition has been put forward that asks the Mayor, Council and CAO (Chief Administration Officer) to sign a code of conduct. The petition called “Tell Mayor and Council and CAO to put our community first” which asks for all parties to stop playing political games at taxpayers expense.

There is another petition that was started this week, “Call to Action to hold Nanaimo Council accountable for violence against Indigenous woman” which asks Council for an official apology and for the resignation of Mayor McKay.

It appears that the CAO and the Nanaimo Council are at an impasse. It’s time for the separation of Church and State in Nanaimo.

Colliery Dam Park battle not over; Nanaimo Street Entertainers; NRE closing

A split council meeting was held on Monday, July 24th. The first section dealt with a new motion from Councillor Kipp on expanding Colliery Dam Park.  Council voted to add two parcels of land to the Colliery Dams Park.

The second part of the meeting heard issues from Nanaimo’s street entertainers.  There is only one good spot to perform in town and the fight is on!

Correspondence was received from the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange about their shaky future.

Councillor Hong was absent for the first section and showed up for the second half. Councillors Brennan and Thorpe were absent. Councillor Kipp apologized twice for missing last week’s meeting. Councillor Fuller pulled a crisis management special by claiming his plan of ‘pissing people off’ succeeded.

Colliery Dams Park expands

First there were two speakers who spoke in favour of saving the GNWL and adding the land to the Colliery Dam Park.

Then came defeat of the old motion made last week. Everyone voted to defeat last week’s motion except Mayor McKay who supported the housing development below the Parkway.

Next, Councillor Kipp made a motion to add 801, 1150 and 1151 Nanaimo Lakes Road to the Colliery Dam Park. The area is already listed as Park and Open Space in the official community plan. There would need to be a bylaw put in place to dedicate the area as a park. Watch for this at an upcoming council meeting.

The land below the Parkway is listed as rural resource and can still be developed.  Why Councillor Kipp didn’t include this land to be saved as parkland in his motion is unclear.

Councillor Fuller gave notice that he would bring forward a motion at the next meeting to make the area below the Parkway as ‘Park and Open Space’. If it is listed as ‘Park and Open Space’ it can still be developed and is not fully protected as parkland.

Is Council hanging on to a faint hope that they will cut off a slice of land to develop into housing. Will they break the public’s patience?

Councillors Hong, Brennan and Thorpe were absent for the vote on the Colliery Dams park expansion.

Public Presentations

Here are some of the highlights of what the two delegates had to say:

Speaker 1:
Many people have signed petitions to save these lands for a future park (180 people signed the petition) There never was any suggestion that part of the area would be developed. Staff recommend the area be saved as park. The survey says the same.  Save the area as a park! This is a once in a life time opportunity; we are hoping this can be saved.

Kipp: …You want two areas to be saved as a park? (above and below the Parkway)…

Speaker:  … Yes…

Speaker 2:
Back in November 2010, staff was directed to look at creating a park in the GNWL. In July 2013 staff was asked to look at creating a park and in June 2017 the City made an announcement that they joined the  Douglas Fir Conservation habitat group.  Colliery Dams has Douglas Fir habitat and wetlands.

There have been surveys, petitions, and consultations – 90% want GNWL saved as a park. Why are people’s wishes ignored? The map of the area above the Parkway is divided up like a dog’s breakfast! This was not shown to the public.  The GNWL should be saved for future generations. There were 680 who signed an online petition to save the land as a park.

Council Discussion

Kipp: …hope we defeat the old motion…wildlife corridor…deer getting hit …a 20 year fight… zoning on parkland…affordable housing has a place…hold for a park…it can be developed later if people want because of the way it is zoned…

Yoachim: …my position has not changed…people have been through a lot with Colliery Dam…people have fought to save the area including some people at this table, including myself…we have the opportunity to save this gem…so let’s do it now…

Fuller: …no one came up to talk about saving the lands expect my brother…I don’t think a lot of people are paying attention…I want to piss people off and get them mad…and get them to look at this…I read the report and the survey report…on the survey it said that people supported development along Harewood Mines Road…that’s where the idea came …I’ve been talking to lots of people about selling the land at market value…get some money and put it into Colliery Park…we may want to create a park reserve fund…we do have a park fund but it only has $40,000 in it…It’s not going to pay for the upgrade to the parks that we want…if all of this becomes park we can still remove [parts] of it from the park…through the alternative approval…process… Linley Valley Park could be developed in the future…

McKay: … people are looking for affordable housing…people can’t find it…develop lots along 7th …simple family homes…

Bestwick: …parks and open space is a critical piece of our City…this is an unbelievable nature habitat…my position is unchanged…

The motion made last week to develop a section of the GNWL was defeated…

Mayor Mckay voted in favour of the old motion for the housing development.
Councillors Bestwick, Yoachim, Armstrong, Kipp, and Fuller, opposed.
Absent were Councillors Hong, Brennan, and Thorpe.

Councillor Kipp’s New Motion

Kipp gave a new motion to rezone lands north of the Parkway for park use. All voted in favour expect Mayor McKay.

Councillor Fuller’s New Motion

Fuller: …I thought Kipp’s motion was going to consider the whole area as park?….[Kipp’s motion only talks about the land above the highway] …I want another motion on the lands south of the highway…

Staff: ….lands south of the parkway are listed as rural resource lands…the lands north of the parkway are listed as Parks and Open Space…

Fuller: … properties are designated rural resources [south of the Parkway]…lands can be designated park and be taken out… I want input from SFN…I give notice of motion to make lands south of the Parkway as Parks and Open Space…

Yoachim: …this motion is on the fly…

More action will be coming up at a future council meeting on the Colliery Dam Park lands south of the Parkway. Will it be made parkland?

Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands & Collery Dam Park – land below Parkway not a park – yet (red line was area proposed for a housing development)

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange closing

The Nanaimo Recycling Exchange (NRE)on Kenworth Road may close down on March 31, 2018. The problem is the NRE is so successful it needs to expand but they don’t have the land or the money required. For the last five years the City of Nanaimo and the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) haven’t got involved. Guess why?

What does the City of Nanaimo and the RDN plan to do with all the garbage produced? The landfill in Cedar will be full soon. Is all the garbage going to be burned up in a new incinerator at Duke Point that looms on the horizon?

Why don’t we have a state of the art recycling facility? VIU could have a research lab that could come up with new products made from our waste. Recycling is big business. Nanaimo could break some new ground and be a zero waste city.

BUT:

Back on May 19, 2014 marked the official start date of the MMBC (Multi Material British Columbia) program in BC worth over $80 million. The BC government in its wisdom let the MMBC be the sole recycler for most of the province.

Unfortunately,  MMBC is not required to report on any recycling data. Instead of BC communities getting the profits from recycling, those profits are going to the corporations running the MMBC program.

Where does that leave Nanaimo? Is the MMBC taking over? How much will it cost and will the taxpayer be hung to dry again?

Nanaimo Street Entertainment Crisis

Two speakers came to speak to council about the Nanaimo street entertainment crisis. The problem is there is only one good place to perform and make any money!

Here are some of the highlights of what they had to say:

Speaker 1:

I am not allowed to use a microphone and people can’t hear me when I am performing down on the waterfront. We need to revisit the 1998 busker bylaw. It is not working. We are being treated like panhandlers and we are not.   A location was removed from outside  Serious Coffee on Commercial Street. I was singled out in an email by the City not to be invited to a busker consultation meeting.

Fuller: … the original bylaw eliminated busking…it took 6 months to get buskers on the committee…agree we need to re-visit the  busking bylaw…

Speaker 2:
Street entertainers are important to Nanaimo and give a good first image of our town. There is a lack of bylaw officers to enforce the rules. People are playing on the street without a license and in non-official spots and for too long in one spot.  One problem is that there is no audition process.

There are a lack of spots to play on the harbour front. There used to be 6 spots to play and now there are only 3.  There once was a spot out side the ice cream shop on the waterfront and in front of the Lighthouse Bistro and the Pacfica Condos.

I am asking Council to bring back at least two of those spots.

The only real viable spot to make any money in all of Nanaimo is down in front of Trolls Fish and Chips but the competition is fierce so I would like to propose a $50 fee for that one spot only and the other spots at the regular fee of $25.

Yoachim: …would buskers be open to rotation?

Speaker: ….used to be the case but it had too many problems…every spot was open to play at and then a rotation …but people argued about time…they allowed people to preform two hours a day and they couldn’t come back for the rest of the day…any spot this applies…four or five years ….now there are performers who keep performing where they are not supposed to such as in front of the Lighthouse [Bistro]…I shouldn’t have to approach them – it’s the bylaw officers’ job…

Yoachim: …two hour window…enough time?…

Speaker: …used to be four hours…because of the lack of spots…two hours is enough…hard to busk for four hours…

Yoachim: …is it two hours all at once?

Speaker: Yes, all you get is two hours…

Hong: …would you like a schedule system?

Speaker: ….no…first come first serve gives more people more opportunity to busk…I won’t busk downtown or at Maffeo Park because there’s no traffic there…There is one spot that is safe…there is no safety downtown…there are no bylaw officers out there…

Hong: …if buskers are interested in time slotting…we have the ability to do it …we can promote buskers…a calendar…

Speaker: …need more spots to play…

Fuller: …I went to a meeting 5 years ago…and one person from the Pacifica Condo complained…and they pulled the spot…

Speaker: It was a great spot…

Fuller: …Maffeo Sutton could use some more busking spots…no people there…food trucks not working out there…

Mckay: ...Pacifica leases the land for $40,000 a year from the Nanaimo Port Authority [NPA]…time to revive the busker bylaw…some restaurants are hiring buskers to attract people…

Yoachim: …review and modernize busker bylaw..do they [NPA] pay for bylaw enforcement?

Mckay: …City agreed to pay for bylaw services and NPA agreed to allow busking

Yoachim: …no cost to the port…they should bring something to the table…

What will happen to the Nanaimo Street entertainers? Has anyone suggested that they can play inside some of the empty malls around Nanaimo?

Famous Nanaimo Street Entertainers

Many famous musicians have played as street entertainers in Nanaimo.

Kenton Dick, a young Nanaimo jazz musician, is the first Canadian to be awarded the Jimmy Lyons Scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston. The scholarship provides Dick with full tuition for four years worth approximately $240,000. This is a a very talented player to watch.

Willie Thrasher, who used to play in front of Pacifica Condos, was featured in Native North America (Vol. 1) which was nominated for best historical album at the 2016 Grammy Awards. Thrasher also recorded a full-length album commissioned by the CBC. That album, Spirit Child, was initially released as a five-song broadcast and was later issued commercially.

Question Period

There were lots of questions on Monday night:

  • Is Council aware that there was a lot of thought that went into how busking spots were selected?
  • How often does the bylaw patrol the harbourfront?
  • Why are you not reading the riot act at the being of the meetings anymore?
  • Has the City ever given out $50,000 fines for moving contaminated soil?
  • Does the City keep minutes of Western Neighbourhood Association meetings?
  • Is there an inventory of lands owned by the City?
  • My questions never get answered – Why?
  • Why is this the first time we hear about the idea to develop the GNWL lands?

Advice from Councillor Hong

“If you have any questions that you would like to be made part of the public record, send an email to mayorandcouncil@nanaimo.ca and ask that it be included in the ‘correspondence’ section of the council meeting agenda.”

Cinnabar Valley Park improvements; higher user fees; walking on the highway

Cinnabar Valley Neighbourhood Park upgrades will be discussed at the COW (Committee of the Whole) meeting on Monday, July 24th.

Proposed upgrades will include new playground equipment, a picnic shelter, pickle ball lines on the tennis court, a second basketball net and lines for basketball. Also, a picnic shelter, fencing, park notice board, water fountain and zip line have been requested. The City estimates their portion of the project to cost $18,000.

Cinnabar Valley Neighbourhood Park improvements planned

Money from the Parks Improvement Program are given out on a first come, first serve basis. People have to get together with their neighbours and prove to the City that the demographics warrant the improvements.

This can be a challenge in some neighbourhoods where people are transient and less community driven. Often in those areas the need is even greater for improvements. The way the system is set up lends itself to favouritism.

The City should do a checklist of all neighbourhood parks and identify equipment that needs fixing or upgrading, instead of waiting for residents to complain.

Some neighbourhoods have pocket parks which are sorely neglected. In order to get playground equipment, it is up to individuals to raise funds and install the equipment.

The City has set aside $36,000 in the budget for 2017 and $50,000 is expected to be allocated for local park improvements next year.

Nanaimo Council Expenses Q1

The expense report for Council was presented at the Finance and Audit Committee in June. The entire Council has a budget of $105,000 for the year and from January to March they have spent $20,500. Here is the breakdown:

$4,001 Bestwick
$2,887 Kipp
$2,803 Hong
$2,101 McKay
$1,843 Thorpe
$1,769 Yoachim
$1,621 Brennan
$1,576 Fuller

Councillor Bestwick had the most expenses with $3,593 in legal fees. Councillor Kipp also had almost $2,000 in legal fees. Overall the biggest expense category appears to be  conference trips.

Higher User Fees coming

At the same meeting a new user fee policy was presented and later approved. All user fees will have increases. This includes services such as police, fire, community services and building permits. This does not include water and sewer.

The idea is to increase permits and licenses fees and reduce property taxes. This may become a hardship for some people as they may not be able to afford to go to the swimming pool or skating rink in the future.

Transit Rate Hike

As of September there will be no more 70 minute paper transfers. Your bus fare will only be good for one way. So a trip to the grocery store and back will cost $6 or you can buy a daily bus pass for $5.

Watch for more people walking on the highway.

Colliery Dam Park revisited

The host of CHLY’s A Sense of Justice recently interviewed a member of the Colliery Dam Preservation Society. It was revealed that Councillor Kipp is planning to bring forward a motion regarding the Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands at next week’s COW meeting. Councillor Kipp was absent on July 10th when Council voted on whether to make the area a park.

Councillor Armstrong sworn in

On July 18th, Sheryl Armstrong was officially sworn in as Nanaimo’s newest councillor. You can watch the ceremony  below.