Nanaimo council will vote Monday, December 12th to stop holding COW (Committee of the Whole) meetings at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre. Instead, Council wants to hold COW meetings in a board room at City Hall.
The PROBLEM with this move is the boardroom at City Hall is too small – it only seats 25. By the time all the council and staff get seated there is very little room left for the public. In comparison, Vancouver Island Conference Centre (VICC) has a public gallery that seats 200.
New hot topics are first heard at COW meetings. These meetings can attract a large number of people.
If Council really wants to be helpful then why not change the start time of the COW meetings to 6:00 pm? COW meetings start at 4:30pm. This is too early for most working folks.
The two main reasons given as to why Council wants to move the COW meetings to a small board room are:
- councillors would like a less formal place to meet
- to save money
Council wants to sit around and have a ‘fireside chat’ about how to spend our tax dollars without the public being able to watch. Keep in mind those mind bending decisions are made long before councillors come to the council table. No one is fool enough to think that any COW meeting will generate novel new ideas.
How much money can be saved by moving COW meetings? The City has reported that $21,000 a year could be saved.
Council spends approximately $20,000 a year on catered meals for their meetings. Can they not pack a snack? Many would do well to go on a diet.
User Rates Increase 7.5%
This week Council approved a 7.5% increase in user rates for garbage, water and sewer. That will be about $480 extra a year in taxes for the average taxpayer. The rate hike does not include the cost of the new automated garbage trucks coming soon. Be ready, because more rate hikes will be coming again.
Council just voted to spend $325,000 for the Rogers Hometown Hockey Event. They are still looking for sponsors.
We are paying over $1.2 million a year for the VICC whether we use it or not.
If Council was really serious about saving money they should look at the millions spent every year on consultants.
Is this COW move really about saving money?
Council has a total of $118,000 available to spend on expenses. This is up from $75,000 from previous years. Council needs to reduce their expenses by half; $50,000 maximum for the entire Council. It’s time to tighten their own belts.
According to the News Bulletin, Councillor Hong is leading the pack with $8,010 in expenses this year. Last year the Mayor was once the highest spender on Council, with $28,000.
Save $83 million
Just before Christmas when most of Nanaimo is drunk on eggnog, do you think Council will approve the Events Centre / Multiplex for $83 million?