Category Archives: General

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.

 

Bathtubs; Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands; Bicycle bylaws

Nanaimo had a summer time council meeting on Monday, July 10th packed with speakers and hot topics.  People came to speak about bathtubs, leasing city land and expanding Colliery Dam Park.

Councillors Kipp and Thorpe were absent.

Greater Nanaimo Water District

City staff made a presentation and recommended expanding Colliery Dam Park but that idea was rejected by Council. Instead, Council voted to develop part of the area for  housing and as well, lease out land to Nanaimo Search and Rescue. Public consultation is being considered for September.

Public open houses were held in December 2016 and a survey from that consultation process revealed people in the area would like to have the land saved as a park.

The Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands (GNWD)is a total of 97 hectares or 251.6 acres and is zoned rural resource (AR1) except a portion of 1151 Nanaimo Lakes Road which is zoned community service (CS2). It is divided into 3 addresses:

  •  801 Nanaimo Lakes Road (13.7 acres)
  • 1150 Nanaimo Lakes Road (201.2 acres)
  • 1151 Nanaimo Lakes Road (36.7 acres)

The thick red line on the map below indicates the ‘Sliver’ of land the council voted to sell off for a housing development. Councillors Fuller, Brennan, Hong and Mayor Mckay voted in favour of the motion.  The GNWD buildings and land are to be leased to Nanaimo Search and Rescue. What will happen to the rest of the land?

Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands. Housing ‘sliver’ in red.

Nanaimo Search and Rescue new home

A presentation was made to council from the Nanaimo Search and Rescue (NSAR) asking that they be able to build a new building at the old GWND building site and lease the land from the City and maybe purchase the land down the road. Who knows?

Old Greater Nanaimo Water District buildings – site of new Nanaimo Search and Rescue

The Nanaimo Search and Rescue mentioned they need more members and equipment and a larger location. They work with RCMP and BC Ambulance to find lost seniors and hikers. They think the GNWD location is ideal for their new equipment and training.  Since 2015 the volunteer group has been searching to find a new property.

Colliery Dam Park Expansion?

A delegation requested that council consider expanding Colliery Dam park. They asked that the entire green space, above and below the parkway (243 acres), be given park status, saying it makes sense because the City already owns the land. It is close to downtown and one can find peace and quiet in the park with no car or city noises.

The Greater Nanaimo Water District lands has old growth trees south of the power lines. Granny falls is not protected. Red and blue listed species are found in the area including three species of rare frogs.

Other rare animals to be spotted in this area include martens and Townsend’s big-eared bats. The land has mature old growth Douglas Fir, arbutus, big leaf maple and wetlands. Rare plants in this area include Calypso orchids and chanterelle mushrooms.

Save the Rare Dam Critters – Martin, Red Legged Frog, Calypso Orchids, Granny Falls

First Nations archaeological site

Another delegation spoke about concerns the land should be saved as park because the Snuneymuxw First Nations (SFN) have an archaeological significant site in the area.

Council discussion:

Staff: …year long archaeological study has been done…significant site…asking section be made a park…

Hong: …east side of the trail…wouldn’t it make sense to put housing on that road…already across the street…easy to shave off a piece of land…don’t have to do anything, services are there…compared to other proposals that people are looking at…as opposed to Glen Garry Crescent…

Fuller: …use the sliver of land for housing below the parkway trail… you could get 40 houses in there…

Hong: …affordable housing…micro housing…adds to the value of the proposed small properties…easy parts should be carved off for housing…

Bestwick: …if we shaved off the sliver and make those city size lots…it would reduce the value of the area…I would prefer not to see 6 foot ceder fences and berms…we spent millions of dollars to preserve the dams…we have lots of infill opportunities to take advantage of…before we invade a park area…

McKay: …I worry about affordable housing…we have opportunities to develop these lands…we have a number of parks that need improvements for washrooms…

Brennan: …when talking about micro housing…we need to have them close to transit and services and people have to walk to shops…people in social housing use strollers…it is a big hike for them to shop at the University Village…urban sprawl…lots of infill opportunities…make it a park…

Yoachim: …green space addition makes sense…

Bestwick: …The DND lands next to VIU will be developed…We just signed on to the Douglas Fir Agreement…This is a Douglas Fir zone…What about the next generation?…Lots of places for houses…to compromise our parks…a great loss…

Fuller: …just that triangle….it will pay for things like washrooms…

Hong: …We have an opportunity to make them into lots and generate some money!..Why not buy Lotus Way?…Lotus Way is for sale… 92 acres let’s buy that….

Bestwick: …we just struck a deal to sell Gordon Street that will go towards buying property…there are other properties that we can sell…

How Council voted

There were three motions on the floor. The first motion was to make the GWRD lands a park. It was a tie vote 3 to 3, so the motion was defeated.

In favour: Councillors Bestwick, Brennan, Yoachim
Against: Councillors Fuller, Hong, and Mayor Mckay

The next motion was to lease out the lands for NSAR. All voted in favour.

Fuller’s Motion for housing development

After council defeated the motion to save the area for a future park, Councillor Fuller pieced together a motion to allow a housing development (area marked red in map above).  This motion passed 4 to 2.

In favour: Councillors Fuller, Hong, Brennan, and Mayor McKay
Against: Councillors Yoachim and Bestwick

Council discussion about Fuller’s motion:

Brennan: …OCP plan would have to be re-zoned?…

Staff: …in the OCP (Official Community Plan) the land was mapped out as a green space but it was never zoned as a park [shows as future parkland]

Yoachim: …sliver or not…not going to solve the housing issue…can’t believe we are willing to give up land already designated for parkland…other places for housing…disappointed…

Bestwick: …this is very similar to the land at Maffeo Sutton…we could have had two 20 storey towers there on the waterfront…the new street was for the two towers …because that land was not designated as park but as a road and parking lot…this is a reminder of that…what could have been…so driving across Pearson Bridge you could reach out and touch someone on a balcony in the new high rises…Parking would be a problem…everyone enjoys that NOW as a park…we have an opportunity you don’t get back when it’s gone…someone wants to make public washrooms a priority then make it [but no one has]. The DND lands are going to be completely developed in a few years that is 240 acres…

Fuller: …it’s just a sliver…I am up there every week…we could make some money on this…

Staff: …recommend go to the public with this in September…

Brennan: …staff is working on an affordable housing strategy…

Fuller: …I never mentioned this going for affordable housing (laughing) …

Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands – proposed land uses

The planning proposed for the Nanaimo Water District above the Parkway  shows area 1 through 5 as rural resource land and the green area as park and open space. Without proper zoning for park it is highly likely that none of this area will be saved for parkland unless local residents kick up a fight.

A petition has been set up requesting the City of Nanaimo preserve the city owned land at Greater Nanaimo Water District Lands (248 acres).

Mayor’s Report

At the in-camera meeting on June 19th, three new RCMP officers and two municipal positions were given funding approval for 2018 for $719,000.

The 15th annual Dragon Boat Festival happened last weekend with 72 teams from across BC and Alberta and USA taking part. Also, last weekend 17 bathtubs traveled from Nanaimo to English Bay in Vancouver— 10 completed the route.

Off Street Parking – bicycle bylaw

The City is working with three departments to come up with an off-street parking bylaw. They are also looking at having a bicycle parking bylaw. Right now the City doesn’t have any bicycle parking requirements. The City may consider having bike lockers both indoor and outdoor.

A traffic consultant was hired for $7,500 to review car parking stall dimensions. Parking stall widths could be reduced from 3.2m down to 2.6m. Parking has a huge impact on urban design and is seen as the largest barrier to getting higher density.

Multi-family developments require 1.66 spaces parking spaces. That rate is based on the number of bedrooms and location in the city.

Council discussion:

Hong: …what is designated as cash in lieu of parking?…
Staff: … developer could pay cash in lieu of parking spaces…looking at hubs like Woodgrove Mall…and Hospital area…
Hong: …asking to reduce the recommended parking stalls…how do we make money? …
Staff:money goes into communal parking spaces…rental properties generate less parking requirements than ownership properties…looking at different rates per area
McKay: …some rooming houses have five tenants and five cars…
Hong: …does this follow the DCC review?
Staff: …framework will be similar
Yoachim: …What about bike rentals?…An idea would be to offer a grant to people who use less parking…
Staff: …bike share programs can work…
McKay: …bikes can’t go on the walkway…when you get to Maffeo Sutton Park so you have to go out on to the highway and there is no bike lane there…consider bike lockers at Maffeo Sutton Park…

No mention was made of having a bylaw that would restrict people to only park on driveways. Some people park on their front lawns. Many small lots have no yards and are a parking lot.

Most malls in Nanaimo have nowhere to park bicycles. Every mall should have a place for parking bicycles.

Question Period

There were many people who waited until almost 11pm to ask questions. Here are some of them:

  1. Where is the user fee report? Not with agenda? (don’t know)
  2. What is the cost of the additional RCMP staffing? ($719,000 per year)
  3. Why were the extra RCMP staff hired? (Reasons classified)
  4. Where is the money coming from to pay for extra RCMP staff?
  5. Why was a real estate agent paid $23,000 commission on the sale of 100 Gordon Street?
  6. Why did the City pay $7,500 for a consultant re parking stall dimensions?
  7. How much money has Watt consulting received in 2016?
  8. What is the City doing to make it child friendly?

Nanaimo By-election results

A total of 7,390 ballots were cast in the June 2017 by-election . There were 10 voting stations on voting day. The lowest turnout was at Chase River where 293 ballots were cast and the highest turnout was at McGirr Elementary with 1,178 votes cast. Here is the final count:
Armstrong 3,611
Brunie 378
Burton 858
Cake 513
Cantelon 643
Routley 296
Saunders 48
Statham 239
Taylor-Middleton 141
Thompson 82
Whiteside 75

Property taxes are due in July. Taxes will increase for the next five years:

  • 2.1% 2018
  • 2.5% 2019
  • 2.4% 2020
  • 1.5% 2021
  • 1% 2022

Bath Tub Days in Nanaimo

Bathtub Days in Nanaimo July 21-22

Bell Tower removal; Save Five Acre Harewood Farm; 34 petitions

Coming up on Monday, July 10th Nanaimo Council will hold a regular council meeting and a fresh new councillor will join the team. Some topics for the evening include:

  • Old City Quarter Business Petition
  • Changes to the Financial plan
  • Sale of 100 Gordon Street $750,000 (tax free 10 years)
  • Demolition of bell tower at 34 Nicol Street
  • New ‘Pacific Station’ sign at 5200 Dublin Way
  • Off-street parking bylaw review
  • Relocation of Nanaimo Search and Rescue to Nanaimo Lakes Road

The City received 34 petitions in favour of forming the ‘Old City Quarter Business Improvement Area’ (OCQBIA). There are 62 properties in the area. Nanaimo council voted unanimously in favour of the annual grant of $41,593 for the next five years to the new OCQBIA on May 8, 2017.

Old City Quarter Business Improvement Area – yellow area between Franklin and Wentworth Streets

The idea is that the new OCQBIA group will make improvements and keep the area clean.

Spending Money

Money needs to be moved from operating and capital funds to pay for some of the new items council approved including:

  • $62,500 Rogers Hometown Hockey Event (total $349,000)
  • $40,774 for Old City Quarter Business Improvement Area
  • $30,000 for 580 Fitzwilliam Roof (total $269,886)
  • $150,000 Nanaimo by-election

Nanaimo By-election July 8th

Saturday, July 8th is the last day to vote in the Nanaimo by-election. The timing of this by-election before and after the first long weekend of the summer is terrible. Another dodgy decision was to have the only advance voting station at a church. Will the public ever learn how much was paid to the church for this service?

Here is a video of the Nanaimo By-election All Candidates Meeting and Debate held on June 27th. Eleven by-election candidates participated.

Update: Sheryl Armstrong elected

Sheryl Armstrong has won the Nanaimo by-election with a landslide of 3,611 votes out of a total 7,400 votes cast.

The turn out for this by-election was a record low compared to the 24,000 votes cast in the Events Centre referendum.  It has cost Nanaimo taxpayers $20 per vote.

What if people were paid $20 to get out and vote? Would that be considered a rigged election?!

Removal of bell tower at 34 Nicol

Firehall No.2 at 34 Nicol Street is a heritage building and a landmark built in 1893. It is a very good example of Victorian Italian architecture with a fortress-like crenelated roof-line. The large doors at the front lower level were designed for easy access for horses and equipment to enter and exit. The hose tower was built in 1914 to dry the fire hoses.

Nanaimo Fire hall No.2 at 34 Nicol Street built in 1893

There is a request to remove the grey bell tower structure below because it has been reported to leak.  It was added on in 1992 to replace the hose tower that once stood there.

Fire Hall today with 1992 bell tower on top – request to remove

Last Five Acre Harewood Farm circa 1888

Two people came to last week’s Nanaimo Council COW (Committee of the Whole) meeting and presented an idea to save the last five acre farm in Harewood. This farm dates back to 1888 when the Vancouver Coal Mining and Land Company started a planned agricultural community; the first of its kind in British Columbia. Five acre parcels were leased to coal miners on the condition that a portion of the land was used to produce food. Eventually Harewood became known as the breadbasket of Nanaimo.

They showed a three minute video titled “A historic farm for Nanaimo’s future at 933 Park Avenue” Here are some highlights from the video:

“The Five Acre Farm at 933 Park Avenue is one of the last intact pieces of the historic Harewood 5-Acre parcels.

For the last three years, two local non-profit organizations, Growing Opportunities and Nanaimo Foodshare have been working together to operate an organic demonstration farm using the property as an education centre, therapeutic space and source of local food.

The farm is ecologically significant. It includes a wetland and stream that is a tributary to the Chase River. It is also a significant green space in the neighborhood and has been identified as an open space in the Harewood Community plan and part of a network of green spaces centered around the stream.

This area is being rapidly developed with dense single and multiple family housing.  The time to implement this part of the Harewood community plan is now.

Harewoodians would like to see this historic farm purchased and held in trust by the community in perpetuity as an educational farm and community green space.

If you want to get involved in this project or want more more information, contact Growing Opportunities at growingopportunities@gmail.com or (250) 713-3374.

Linley Valley Hidden Ridge Petition; Carriage and Micro homes

Crowds lined up Thursday night for the Linley Valley Open House regarding a new housing development on Tanya Drive in north Nanaimo, just off Lost Lake Road.

A Victoria developer has applied to amend Nanaimo’s Official Community Plan, and remove 72 acres from the Urban Land Reserve. This forested and wetland habitat spans the north ridge of Linley Valley and borders Linley Valley-Cottle Lake Park.

The dark blue area shows shows the 72 acres to be developed.

72 acre Tanya Drive Development in Nanaimo in dark blue

The concept plan includes 190 new single-family homes, plus an unspecified number of multi-family homes at 5260, 5280 and 5300 Tanya Drive.

The developer has applied to:

  1. amend the Official Community Plan
  2. remove the land from the Urban Reserve
  3. have it rezoned for a steep slope subdivision

Below are the plans for the housing development. The red dot is Lost Lake.

190 homes proposed for the Tanya Drive Development in Nanaimo

Linley Valley Petition

A petition has been started asking that the City protect Hidden Ridge from development and add it to the existing Linley Valley-Cottle Lake Park.

see petition: https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-the-linley-valleys-hidden-ridge.html?sh=tAA7EyikIFe+H+2Ni7IsYkbhM4/Ja0LrA0tB2myZUMn1Mc8y2Yarrg==

There are concerns that this development would:

  1. Destroy an ecological gem and irreparably damage the ecosystem of the entire Linley Valley, which is home to many at risk species.
  2. Devastate sensitive wetlands and downstream water systems, which are critical habitat for migrating birds, beavers and many other plants and animals.
  3. Severely diminish the cultural and recreational value of the forest that Nanaimo has assembled to create the Linley Valley-Cottle Lake Park.
  4. Massively increase the daily traffic on Lost Lake Road.
  5. Dangerously increase the fire risk in this urban/forest interface which is outside the six-minute fire response area.
  6. Require expensive and extensive utility installation and service upgrades.

The red zone shows the area for development. It will cut off Lost Lake from the Linley Valley trail network.

Trail Network to be lost in the Tanya Drive Development

Below is a view of the proposed development area.

View of Linley Valley Tanya Drive Development area

Nanaimo by-election

Where do the 13 Nanaimo by-election candidates stand on this development in Linley Valley? One candidate has already jumped in with two feet.

Carriage homes and Micro homes

At the this week’s Nanaimo Council COW (Committee of the Whole) meeting Councillor Fuller brought forward a motion to review infill housing design guidelines for carriage and micro homes.

Council discussion:

Fuller: …Micro housing [tiny homes of 250 square feet] is getting popular…The last application for a carriage house was voted down…it would’ve been fine if was smaller…Why not have two micro homes instead of one? …A review of the guidelines for infill will allow us to get more affordable housing…

Hong: …I can’t support the last point…we can’t stop people from getting development permits…

Staff: …we wouldn’t stop people…they could bring applications forward anyway…

Bestwick: …consultation with neighbourhood associations…could be a burden for the applicant…

Fuller: …the redesign of the infill would be in consultation with the neighbourhood associations…new guidelines may reduce the number of applications…

Mckay: …so people would go to the neighbourhood associations first?…

Fuller: …we are going to try to redesign the whole small lot development infill guidelines…so we get feedback from the neighbourhood associations…what they want to see…infill impacts neighbourhoods…

Council voted unanimously in favour of Fuller’s motion.

Tiny Homes and Neighbourhood War Zones

In Vancouver a couple had a custom built tiny home and parked it in a friend’s backyard.  After several months, they were told they could not park there after a neighbour complained.

It all comes down to conflict with neighbours. Small lot developments with micro houses or mega houses with many multi-units leads to over crowding and complaints.

Is the City prepared to spend more money on policing and bylaw services to deal with infill housing issues? More people on smaller lots will result in more conflicts with neighbours. People will complain about parking, roaming cats, barking dogs, loud music, burning garbage in fire pits, stinking garbage left outside, marijuana smoke, loud vacuums and on and on…

Disagreements between homeowners can turn entire neighbourhoods into war zones. A good example is the infill that’s happening on Hammond Bay Road.

Speed Bumps; Bike Lanes; Drug needles; Nanaimo by-election

Nanaimo by-election is in full swing!  Advance polls open next Wednesday.

Coming up this Monday, June 26th there is a Nanaimo Council COW (Committee of the Whole) meeting.  Some topics on the agenda include:

  • Bike lanes on Turner Road to Dover Road
  • Application process for social planning grants
  • Traffic calming project on Ross Road
  • InFilm project for $30,000 Bestwick motion
  • Infill housing guidelines Fuller motion
  • Abandoned boats presentation from MP Malcomson
  • Business plan for Tourism Nanaimo

Ross Road Speed Humps

Two temporary speed humps will be installed July to September on Ross Road for a cost of $22,000. Emergency services has identified Ross Road as a top priority because most people speed an average 64 km/hr. What can be done about Stewart Avenue? It is also like a speed way.

Two temporary speed humps planned for Ross Road

Bike Lane on Turner and Dover Road

A new bike lane and sidewalk are planned to be built this summer between Turner Road and Dover Road.  The blue line marks the new sidewalk to be installed.

Bike lane and side walk plans for Turner Road and Dover Road

Social planning grants

The City of Nanaimo has made $85,000 available to non-profits/faith groups who can apply for a Social Response Grant and a Community Vitality Grant. First staff reviews the grant application then it goes to the Finance Committee and then lastly to Council for a vote.

June 19th Council Meeting

Highlights from June 19th Nanaimo Council meeting include:

  • RCMP report
  • Water leaking from City pipes
  • Selling City property on White Street
  • Victoria Crescent merchants’ request for security guards
  • Hammond Bay Road fish bowl

Note: Unfortunately the public microphone at the podium was not working all evening.

RCMP Report

Two speakers from Nanaimo RCMP spoke about some areas they are working on:

  • Crime Prevention (violence in relationships, drugs)
  • Youth intervention (5 full-time staff in schools)
  • Traffic (waterfront/marine/impaired driving)

Some stats given were:

  • domestic violence (3 domestic calls a day!)
  • traffic kills  (11 fatalities on the roads in Nanaimo)
  • drug deaths from fentanyl crisis
  • homeless youth (increased number of runaways)

Council Discussion:

Thorpe:  How many on bike patrol?
RCMP:  … eight on bikes…142 officers need more people to keep eyes on community…

Three domestic calls a day is a crisis. How much of this is due to financial strain brought on by the lack of affordable housing because of rampant speculation?

Mayor’s Report

Mayor McKay noted that eight by-election candidates were in the gallery.  The 2016 water treatment prevented a boil water advisory 70 times.  The City property at 100 Gordon street property is considered sold for $750,000. The City had six responses to the sale; the new hotel will have 118 rooms and is expected to be finished in early 2019. (Plus the hotel gets 10 years tax free).

Water Leaking from City Pipes

A presentation was given on water leakage from City of Nanaimo pipes. The speaker said 1900 mL (megalitres) has leaked from City pipes. This seepage is equivalent to 760 Olympic-size swimming pools!

According to a recent audit there was 498 mL of water leaking from South Fork to treatment plant equivalent to (200 Olympic-size swimming pools.

The speaker asked Council to consider water loss as a serious  issue.  What is the City going to do to fix the pipes?

Council Discussion:

COO: …this speaker sits on a committee…they can bring it up there…if we find leaks we will fix them…

Speaker: …we are consuming 14.4 million litres of water yet we are not billing for that… public works should take the initiative and get to work on the 2013 report….

Yoachim:…these water leaks are alarming…

CFO: …looking at an audit on leaks…

Downtown Drug Needle Problem

Council approved $45,000 to hire two private security guards and two people to pick up litter in downtown Nanaimo. Two needle boxes were donated and will be installed.

The Safe Injection Site proposed at 437 Wesley Street was rejected.  The $20,000 for litter pickup is for six months. The $25,000 for two private security guards will last until the end of September.

Council Discussion:

Fuller: …needle boxes…how many needles in each box each month?

Staff: …needle boxes are emptied 3 times a year…the one on Wisteria Lane is emptied 6 times a year…two more boxes are to be installed…for a total of nine needle boxes…

Fuller: …Someone is putting out brown bags of needles and crack pipes with notes not to use around the library at Wisteria Lane…are they educating people on how to dispose of these needles?…personal needle boxes are great…people bring them back to Harris House for more….

Staff: …regular users are informed…

Fuller: …random groups giving out needles are not helping…

Bestwick: …urban clean-up program…How many people participating in this clean up for two hours a day for two days a week?…16 hours…minimum wage…Old City Quarter has concerns about litter…we don’t know how many hours and how many people but just that we are paying minimum wage?…

Staff: …service provider will decide…before was one person…

Brennan: …urban clean-up program – why are we taking that from the study budget?…why not the budget for street cleaning?..we have been using that budget for other research initiative projects…

Staff: …$150,000 and $50,000 were spent on studies for affordable housing…Given that, we don’t need $30,000 on more studies…

Hong: …Why only two more needle boxes?…

Staff: There is a limit on how much I can ask public works to do…they haven’t yet pushed back…one day they will ask for more money to check on needle boxes…

Hong: …We need a needle box at the Military Museum…some groups get tax breaks; they can help out with the clean-ups…

Staff: …Nanaimo Community Living has been picking up litter five days a week without compensation…

Mckay: The budget is $45,000 to September…What about to the end of December?

Downtown Nanaimo Security Guards

Six people were signed up to speak about the problems with aggressive panhandlers and drugs in downtown Nanaimo. Here is some of what they had to say:

Speaker 1:
Years ago there were two women who would patrol the whole downtown; that seemed to really help things…then the bylaw department took over and they didn’t do a good job…It has gotten really bad since the Jean Burns fire…I was surrounded by six aggressive panhandlers who challenged me to a fight!…The other day homeless people were fighting with each other using baseball bats! I was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher for 15 minutes and then the fight was over…I will call the police about a drug issue and three hours later they may come…I call the police about issues near my business and they don’t come…

Speaker 2:
It has gotten really bad in the last 10 months…one of our staff was severely assaulted in December…we have called the police and their response has been slow…Three times a week we clean up drug needles…way more aggressive panhandling…

Speaker 3:
We talk to the police once or twice a week to have people removed from our property…we are losing business…extra security cameras…police have come to our calls when we have asked for help…we need more community outreach…we are at ground zero…Does the community policing office still exist?…

Council Discussion:

Fuller: …There is a more aggressive group of people around downtown panhandling…

Yaochim: …what could we do better…bylaw department?…

Speaker 2:Increase security patrols in early morning…

Hong: …I’m on that street…lighting new…LED will be brighter…
will that help?….

Brennan: …Do we still ban people from downtown?…

Staff: …we just do it through civil court now…

Why doesn’t the current bylaw enforcement team and RCMP work together? If there are 8 RCMP on bicycles and 5 bylaw staff members then that is a total of 13 people patrolling the downtown streets of Nanaimo – why would the City need to hire 2 more private security guards?

Even if the City gets these panhandlers and drug addicts to move elsewhere, that does not make the problem disappear. They will move into neighbourhoods and show up on peoples’ lawns or doorsteps. We need some provincial or federal help. This is a crisis beyond the scope of the City.

1411 White Street – future park?

The City purchased 1411 White Street in 1997 for $115,000 and proposed to sell it for $240,000 almost 20 years later in 2017.  It was purchased as part of a sewer plan. The house is currently being rented out for approximately $900 a month. The current tenants asked if they could buy it.

Mckay:  The notice in the newspaper was for a disposal of property; not a request for proposals…help me understand your logic…

Staff:generally we go for a request for offers…but we have a tenant who lives in the house who would like to purchase it…we usually aim to get market value…it’s just an easier process this way…

One delegation spoke in opposition to the sale:

I oppose this sale. The City owns the land next to this lot and it should be protected as a park.  The Millstone River is a fish bearing stream. There are concerns about flooding on this land. It should be a left as treed area by the river.

Council Discussion:

Brennan: …how about a covenant on the lot?…

Staff:The whole lot is in the riparian area…

Brennan:  (made motion on covenant)

Thorpe: … is the lot tied to the lot next to it?…

Yoachim: …leave as is…protect the river…

Bestwick: …we get $10,800 a year for rent from this property…it is in the riparian area…It doesn’t make sense to have it in private hands…

Mckay: …we could make $240,000 on this property sale…

Hong: …we have rules for riparian areas…have it as a right-of-way…the way it was set up to be…

Thorpe: …riparian setbacks are important…

Fuller: …How much rent are we getting for this house? $900 per month? (shakes head)…

Vote:
All voted to not sell the City property on 1411 White Street. What will happen to this land? Will it be made a park?

3217 Hammond Bay Road

A resident spoke about a new 10-unit development at 3217 Hammond Bay Road with plans for 20 parking spaces.  Three storey homes perched on a slope now overlook a formerly private lot. The resident spoke how the new development  has devalued their property by $20,000 and made his house a fish bowl.

large lot on Hammond Bay Road divided into 10 lots – no privacy, no trees

The homes are too large for small lots. Why aren’t the houses smaller to scale with the lots? Yet the shopping malls are one level with no residences above. As well, many of these strip malls are visibly empty. As an example, Woodgrove Centre does not have any condos above and there are five empty retail spaces.

Advance Polls open next week

Advance Voting polls open Wednesday, June 28th and Wednesday, July 5th at the Nanaimo Alliance Church on Meredith Road. General voting day is Saturday, July 8th.

Why only one location for advance voting? Why at a church? How much is the City of Nanaimo paying the Nanaimo Alliance Church for the polling station?  Why not use a publicly owned facility such as a community centre?

Scientific studies show that “subtle environmental cues in a polling place can significantly, but unconsciously, affect citizens’ real-world votes” mainly due to what’s known as the “priming effect” which “nudges voters in a predictable direction [leading] to a systematic, non-random bias in individual’s decision-making.”

Nanaimo residents can vote for one of the following thirteen candidates running in the by-election:

Sheryl Armstrong
Brunie Brunie
Sacia Burton
Leon Cake
Kevin Cantelon
Jim Mercier
Alexis Taylor Middleton
Noah Routley
Neil Saunders
Fred Statham
Kevin Storrie
Al Thompson
Kelly Whiteside

If you want to learn more about these Nanaimo by-election candidates and their thoughts on City topics, visit Our Nanaimo (ournanaimo.com).

Green Bin dilemma and Dog Waste to Energy

At Monday night’s Nanaimo Council meeting Councillor Hong as acting mayor requested speakers to give their addresses. People haven’t done that for years. Why was this done? Was it to intimidate the speakers, especially those speaking on the topic of sexual and gender based harassment at the city?

A member of the public questioned why Council approved spending $8 million for new automated garbage trucks and bins in an in-camera meeting. Why wouldn’t this have been voted on at a regular council meeting?

Here is how the big garbage question went:

Resident: When was the vote done on the $8 million garbage trucks and bins?

Hong: we approved the purchase of 6,000 bins and 6 more garbage trucks, discussions were in the open – we have approved the garbage bins and trucks …I thought we did that in a open meeting?

Staff: …March 27th motion was passed [on garbage bins/trucks] at a special meeting…

Kipp: …We debated it in-camera, behind closed doors, not in a public meeting …People didn’t know if it was kosher or not…

Resident: …if you can get away doing that kind of thing in-camera then …why do we need public meetings?!…

CFO: The approval done in-camera is appropriate…minutes of that meeting will come later…

Yoachim: …in-camera stuff is not working for me…we don’t get an agenda until we get here …then there is a million and one amendments…then we get accused of not being transparent…keep it out here so people know the truth…

Fuller: … anything we do can go in-camera…

Green bin dilemma

In 2011, the City of Nanaimo first introduced the green bin organic waste program to Nanaimo residents. Now the City has plans for another type of green bin that can be used by the new automatic garbage trucks.

What are we supposed to do with the old green bins?

So, based on the assumption that everyone drives an SUV or pickup, how many people are going to make the trip to the Public Works office to drop off their green bin? What about for people who don’t have a vehicle?

Does the City of Nanaimo have plans to recycle 40,000 green bins or will they sell them to another municipality to offset the cost of the new ones? Here are a few options:

  • Burn them in our future incinerator (or at the one in Spokane, Washington)
  • Sell them to another municipality
  • Re-purpose them

When Boise, Idaho needed to buy some recycling bins for their park system, they turned the problem over to their youth. High school students designed a recycling bin that could  be attached to the City’s existing trash bins. The Terra Luna bin saved Boise $50,000.

Terra Luna recycling bin

Dog Waste to Energy

Waterloo, Ontario plans to turn dog waste into energy. This city of 100,000 is just a bit larger than Nanaimo but it has identified dog poop as a big problem. And now they have a solution.

“It’s actually a big issue, dog waste. If you look at our municipal litter bins … it’s 40 to 80% dog waste.”

A dog-owner walking their pet will scoop up its waste, just as they would normally. But instead of throwing the bag into a trash can, they put it into a special bin.

Biodegradable bags of dog poop are stored in an underground container for 10 to 14 days. Using a process called anaerobic digestion, a biogas is created which can then be burned for heat and energy.

The drawing below shows the old system of dog waste ending up in the landfill. Next is a new system where dog waste generates energy for park lamps.

Dog waste to energy

Below is a video of a public art project from Cambridge, Massachusetts – “Park Spark” that converts dog waste to a biogas that powers a park light and a burner for making tea: