Tag Archives: nanaimo

New Federal Election Voting Rules

Are you voting for the first time in a federal election? In order to vote you have to be registered with Elections Canada. How do you get registered? One option is to register online at the Elections Canada website by October 13th with a driver’s licence or a BC identification card. This works only if your street address is the same as your mailing address.

New Elections Act – Bill C23

Vince MacLean, former leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party tried to vote early at his lifelong polling station in rural Nova Scotia, but couldn’t, despite a walletful of ID and being well known in the community.

The Harper government passed the “Fair Elections Act” which further restricts rural residents from voting. The government wanted to ban vouching altogether, now vouching is limited to just one person. People are required to be registered to vote under a civic address.  This affects mostly rural people whose mailing address differs from their civic ones such as people on the move, students, First Nations people and rural politicians(!).

If you are in a senior’s home, student residence, or on a reserve, for example, you need to fill out the Letter of Confirmation of Residence form.

To find out if you are registered to vote call Elections Canada at 1-800-463-6868 or visit their office.

Courtney-Alberni riding:
4805 Mar Street
Port Alberni
(open 7 days a week. Call 1-866-499-8028)

160 Corfield Street, Suite 6
(open 7 days a week. Call 1-866-234-3586)

3175 Cliffe Avenue, Suite 101
(open 7 days a week. Call 1-866-714-9652)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding:
1111 Dufferin Crescent
(open 7 days a week. call 1-866-545-0624)

Register and Vote at Advanced Polling Station

You can register and vote at the same time at one of the advanced polling stations starting next week.

Friday, October 9, 2015
Saturday, October 10, 2015
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Monday, October 12, 2015

The big Voting Day is Monday October 19th.

Voter Information Card

If you received a voter information card with your name and address, you are registered to vote in the federal election. BUT you can’t use your voter information card to vote! You need to show either one of the following:

•your driver’s licence
•your provincial or territorial ID card
•any other government card with your photo, name and current address

If you have a passport, you need to show a second piece of ID. For a detailed list, see the Elections Canada ID to vote page.

A resident of Cortes Island recently received a voter information card in the mail which directed him to vote at Refuge Cove on remote West Redonda Island with no public ferry service — a difficult proposition for a man who doesn’t own a boat. How is that accessible for handicapped people? He was told the only other option was to vote at Bella Bella, over 300 km away. Yet, in the previous federal election there was a polling station on Cortes.


If your ID does not have your current address, you have to take an oath and show two pieces of ID with your name and have someone who knows you attest to your address. The person must show proof of identity and address, and be registered in the same polling division, and attest for only one person.

Candidates in your riding

Nanaimo-Ladysmith Candidates:
Jack  East   Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada  (416) 253-4475
Mark Allen  MacDonald  Conservative Party of Canada  (250) 729-6133
Sheila  Malcolmson New Democratic Party  (250) 591-9990
Paul  Manly  Green Party of Canada  (250) 591-9222
Tim  Tessier  Liberal Party of Canada  (250) 758-8577

Courtney-Alberni Candidates:
Barbara  Biley Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada  (416) 253-4475
John  Duncan Conservative Party of Canada  (250) 586-1161
Gord  Johns  New Democratic Party  (778) 427-6010
Carrie  Powell-Davidson Liberal Party of Canada  (250) 586-1915
Glenn  Sollitt Green Party of Canada  (250) 240-4934

Liquor Stores in Nanaimo

At Monday’s Nanaimo Council meeting on September 14, 2015 there was an application for a LRS (Liquor Retail Store) in Brooks Landing Mall.

The  applicant proposed relocating an existing liquor store at the Howard Johnson Hotel  to the former West Marine store in Brooks Landing Mall.

There were three delegations that spoke. Two were against the proposal and one was the applicant. The Mayor exited the meeting while one of the delegations spoke against the application.

Points were raised such as the subject  property is located between two schools—
Woodlands Secondary opposite the Island Highway and Cilaire  Elementary opposite  Departure Bay Road.  As well, there is a church down the road used by a daycare.

Also, over the years four other applications for a liquor store at the mall were turned down.  Concerns of over saturation of the retail liquor market were raised.

The applicant spoke about not operating 24 hours a day and mentioned a letter of support from the RCMP for the Howard Johnson liquor store to relocate to Brooks Landing:

“…the frequency of public intoxication, consumption of liquor, disturbances and homeless encampments are correlated to the proximity of this retail liquor store on the Howard Johnston Hotel property…alcohol-related disturbances continuously have a deleterious impact on venues hosted in Maffeo Sutton Park….”

Council discussion highlights:

Councillor Hong: …”no one has had the balls to bring it this far…small local operators are left with empty pockets…I don’t trust the government… I’m glad I sold the Oxy… there is nothing left…now the government liquor stores are putting in coolers…if people want liquor and drugs they can get it anywhere…being close to a school is not an issue…”

Councillor Fuller: …”there have been four applications before this and they have been turned down…don’t feel right about it…I don’t drink anymore…when I was young we got liquor [from all sorts of places]…”

Councillor Brennan: …”the location is close to a school…there is a tunnel used to get to the mall…safety… public drunkenness…bootlegging…”

Councillor Yoachim: …”[young people] will get liquor wherever…[Brooks Landing] is a good location…”

Mayor McKay: …”why do we need to have a city policy on liquor stores?…”

City Manager Swabey suggested that council have an updated liquor store zoning policy. The Mayor didn’t see the point and batted the issue back and forth.

The liquor store application for Brooks Landing was denied. Councillors Hong, Yoachim and Mayor McKay supported the application. Councillors Brennan, Pratt, Thorpe, Kipp and Fuller opposed. Councillor Bestwick was absent.

The new liquor store policy Bill 22 passed earlier this year by the BC government. Does this boil down to the eventual end of small liquor stores in BC?  Will the big grocery stores take over the liquor retail market? Will Jimmy Pattison Group clean up in BC and take the liquor on consignment?

According to one speaker, California wine makers will use NAFTA to challenge the sale of only BC wines in grocery stores.

Is there a saturation of liquor stores in Nanaimo?

Maffeo Sutton Park: future planning

Does Maffeo Sutton Park need any improvements? That is the question The City of Nanaimo is currently asking.

Maffeo Sutton Park
Maffeo Sutton Park Nanaimo

The City is looking for the your input. From 11 am to 7 pm on Monday, September 14 and Thursday, September 17, the public is invited to drop by Maffeo Sutton Park to give suggestions for the future amenities of the park.

If you can’t attend the open house you can fill out the Maffeo Sutton Park Improvement survey online,  or write your suggestions on the flags displayed at the park bridges or email your comments to askpre@nanaimo.ca.

Maffeo Sutton Park is a busy park in downtown Nanaimo. Spirit Square opened in 2009 and was the first phase of park improvements. The blue triangle in the picture above is a covered area for public use that was added at the time along with the basketball courts.

City Council has since requested new plans to reflect the changes planned for the downtown.

Some upgrades to Maffeo Sutton Park that have been suggested are:

  • Enhanced trail connections up the Millstone River to Bowen Park
  • Terracing Georgia Park for event/harbour viewing
  • More public art in Maffeo Sutton and along the Harbourfront Walkway
  • Improve Swy-A-Lana Lagoon beach (improve sandy area)
  • More street entertainers and buskers

Over the last 100 years the land has gone from a pristine estuary full of birds and fish to an industrial site and now to a waterfront park.

Notice the old Foundry building originally built in 1881. The large white building  is the Civic Arena, which was built in the 1930’s by Nanaimo residents.

Maffeo Sutton Park: early 1990's
Maffeo Sutton Park: early 1990’s

What will Nanaimo’s waterfont park look like in the future? Will Nanaimo’s Mayor go to China to find new investors for the Nanaimo Hilton Hotel and will the new hotel owners have other ideas for the park?

Who knows? Everyone will have to wait and see.

How much will the Colliery Dams remediation project cost?

At the Nanaimo Council meeting on Monday, August 10, 2015, the estimated $5 million dollar Colliery Dams remediation project was on the agenda.

Council approved the following:

  • to waive the City’s Purchasing Bylaw requirement for a public tender
  • to invite four contractors to submit tenders for construction of the Colliery Dams Auxiliary Spillway
  • to use a ‘cost plus contract’

Three delegations had concerns about the open-ended cost plus contract. This was followed by discussion. Seven voted in favour (Hong, Brennan, Yoachim, Bestwick, Pratt, Thorpe, Mayor McKay) and two against (Kipp, Fuller).

Here are some highlights from the meeting:

Delegation 1: “…finished drawings are required, Golder [Engineers] hasn’t finished the drawings…If drawings are not completed by Golder, can’t they ask for an extension? Did the City ask for an extension?

McKay: “No.”

Delegation 1: “…the costs could be out of hand with this type of cost plus contract…taxpayers won’t know what the end costs will be.”

McKay: “We’re under an order. I wouldn’t recommend we ask for an extension.”

Delegation 2: “…this is an open door to corruption, cronyism and collusion…There are no plans completed. The pictures on the website are misleading. Why waive the cities purchasing policy…it is crazy to sole source a $5 million project…”

McKay: interrupts delegation many times (lots of eye rolling)

Delegation 2: “Mr. Davidson [Director & Comptroller of Water Rights] told me he was flexible and that if the City is under pressure it’s not from him.”

Delegation 2: “Mr. Davidson [Director & Comptroller of Water Rights] told me he was flexible—if the City is under pressure it’s not from him.”

McKay: “We have a deadline…”

Before the vote, Council had a discussion:

Bestwick: “…why do we need to waive the City’s purchasing bylaw? We know there isn’t any requirement for blasting, there is bedrock… ‘Substantial Completion’ what is that? The government says we have to have ‘substantial completion’ by November 15th. Why this mysterious end date? Are we going to design while we build?”

McKay: “Are you ready for tender today?”

Swabey: “No…’substantial completion’ is up to the comptroller…this is a very straight forward job.”

Bestwick: “Why is it such a massive undertaking to get drawings to tender?”

Yoachim: “…we’re doing this under duress…we have a worse case scenario. Where is the limitation on costs? We have to have a maximum we are going to pay.”

Fuller: “this makes no sense…we don’t have drawings for the September 1st deadline…to put this out as a ‘cost plus contract’ makes no sense… Let’s get the most contractors we can to bid on this project and get the best price.”

Staff: “…cost plus is not done often…There is uncertainty to the price, you don’t have time to complete the design and don’t have time to tender…the November 15th [2015] deadline is the only deadline they care about.”

Fuller: “We just received a letter [from the Dam Safety Section]…they expect a detailed design report by September 1st…we can’t meet that date…Let’s get an extension…”

Staff: “The drawings are 30% complete…they will see we are making progress. If we delay we will be working in mud…”

Hong: “How many are we expecting to bid for this project? Four? Four and are they local…yes…good. I prefer to have locals…”

Staff: “…if we split up the contract…we would have additional costs.”

Swabey: “There would be change orders all along the way with that type of process…”

Kipp: “…we have no dam expert on this…we are picking our contractors locally…cost plus is a concern for me…we don’t have the size of the of the dam,  downstream mitigation, soil, waste dumping, tree management…spillway…there’s another spillway… [all we have is] just pretty pictures and no real data…I’m disappointed…I can’t support this cost plus contract…”

Staff: “…we checked regarding coal slag…”

Kipp: “…downstream mitigation?”

Staff: “…dead logs in the way…are not a concern.”

Kipp: “…damage to Harewood Creek?…”

McKay: cuts off Kipp, turns off Kipp’s mike

Kipp: “Why turn off my mike?”

McKay: “You were off topic…you started to talk about downstream mitigation…not the cost plus contract.”

(McKay suggested they step outside for ten minutes for a ‘time-out’. Kipp threatened to leave the meeting.)

Yoachim: “I assume it’s going to be monitored…the project…can we have it capped?…the price? What about the trees that are going to be removed? Is there a tree plan?”

Staff: “There is a plan to plant more trees…”

Yoachim: “I know I’m off topic but…washrooms?…landscaping?…”

Thorpe: “…I am satisfied with the assurance with the staff recommendation…we are doing this because of the comptroller’s deadline…not doing this could cost us more money…we have burned our bridges with the BC government…we have been forced into this…”

Brennan: “I am satisfied with staff’s recommendations…I wish we didn’t have the risk
of the [cost plus] process…comptroller’s orders…staff can deal with this…We are the authors of our [mess]. Thorpe you articulated it best…”

Fuller: “we keep bringing up meeting the deadlines…we are only 30% complete on the drawings… we knew about this for a long time…Why did we stop working on the design? Was everything put on hold?…You have to keep going once you start…”

Staff: “contract details will be negotiated at the end of the contract…”

Hong: “I’m happy that it’s going to a local contractor.”

Pratt: “I agree with Councillor Brennan, this is not an ideal situation…timelines are not a red herring…I think the timelines are real…let’s get on with it…”

Bestwick: “I like my ipad…farmers’ long range weather forecast…we have $2 million…we are not spending $30 million…There is no bedrock anymore…We didn’t know that before…now we find out it is a very simple project…we are digging a ditch…if we have 30% of the drawing designs done…I’ve voted in favour of the spillway not knowing all the information…I don’t think we will have completion or substantial completion by November 15th…The comptroller has given permission to be late…they know we can’t make the deadlines…all the intimidation of deadlines…this sucks.”

Vote called: Kipp and Fuller opposed. The remaining Councillors and the Mayor approved.

Mayor McKay’s mood visibly improved after the vote—lots of smiles and laughter.

New Temporary Public Art Downtown Nanaimo

Be sure to take to take a walk around downtown Nanaimo and discover seven new temporary public art exhibits that are on display for 2015.

"Embarking"  by Marc Walter
“Embarking” by Marc Walter

This looks like the hull of a boat made of branches or like the tail of a whale diving into the grass.  Raises questions: What path are we taking?

"Cake" by Ron Hart & Michael Fugeta
“Cake” by Ron Hart & Michael Fugeta

A slice of earth with layers of sand and soil with grass on top.  Raises questions: Is earth a desert or a dessert?

"Coming Soon" by Jason Gress
“Coming Soon” by Jason Gress

A forklift moving a big box. Raises questions: What new changes will the human species face?

"Solstice" by Elizabeth Wellburn
“Solstice” by Elizabeth Wellburn

Lots of small pieces of coloured glass with texture. Raises questions: Does the missing piece in the arch imply a new season?

"Tall Crabs" by Michael Truelove
“Tall Crabs” by Michael Truelove

Steel rectangles walking down steps. Raises questions: How are people and crabs the same?

"Intrawolf" by Tonya Hart
“Intrawolf” by Tonya Hart

Florescent yellow dogs sitting on the library roof. Raises questions:  Do dogs like looking down at people?

public art signage very hard to read
public art signage very hard to read

The seventh public art piece is called “Dancing Eagle” by Joel Good.  It is located somewhere in Maffeo Sutton Park. Go and have a look and see if you can find it.

The only critique is that the signage is impossible to read because the type is too small and light.  Also, there doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the city’s website where the art is explained, such as how it was made and what the artist wanted to express.

stain glass detail from the "Solstice"
stain glass detail from the “Solstice”

Take time to get a close look at the detail of the stain glass work on the “Solstice”.  Plus, there is more public art from last year which the City purchased such as this “Dungeness Crab” carved by Dan Richey.

"Dungeness Crab" by Dan Richey
“Dungeness Crab” by Dan Richey

Colliery Dams: Political Theatre in Nanaimo

Colliery Dams was on the agenda for the Monday July 20th Nanaimo council meeting. There were 4 delegations who came to speak.

Councillor Yoachim raised his motion for the dams which was legally drafted and all encompassing. Here are the highlights of the motion:

  • select the Lower Dam remediation option: Auxiliary Spillway (Labyrinth/Box Culvert, Open Channel  alternative)
  • prepare a design report and construction plan for the Auxiliary Spillway on or before July 24, 2015
  • prepare a conceptual plan for the Middle Colliery Dam for potential use once the Lower Dam remediation is complete
  • develop Terms of Reference for a tendering process for the Auxiliary spillway to be awarded by September 1, 2015
  • re-establish the Technical Committee as a Select Committee
  • have an independent investigation and report on the Colliery Dam process from start to finish
  • send a letter to the Provincial government outlining concerns with the process
  • stop all legal proceedings before the Environmental Appeal Board

Four people spoke about their concerns about all of the unanswered questions around Colliery Dams. MLA Routley spoke about his concerns that the Colliery Dams debacle was dividing council and the community and further work could be done with the province.

Councillor Brennan started off by saying she didn’t know how to properly address Routley. Next she told him he had incorrect facts. Brennan claimed that the Colliery Dams remediation cost was not originally estimated at $30 million. Was she saying that the Nanaimo Daily News got their facts wrong as well? Then Brennan invited Routley to have a meeting with herself and a city staff member at which time the “facts could be clarified.” MLA Routley  acknowledged a difference in opinion.

No other councillors nor the Mayor had any questions or comments. Councillors Yoachim and Bestwick thanked MLA Routley for his time coming to the meeting.

Councillor Brennan made a motion to have a 15 minute break so all councillors could look at Yoachim’s motion, as it was the first time they were seeing this “very long motion full of legal speak.”

After the break, the meeting resumed. Councillor Yoachim exited the meeting several times as did other councillors and staff. Apparently, they were ironing out the details of the motion.

A dysfunctional council no more?

The Nanaimo Mayor hired The Integrity Group run by Vancouver lawyer Heather MacKenzie for $50,000 to help council get along.  According to the News Bulletin, the Mayor commented that the division and behaviour is much worse than most councils, morale is at an “all time low” at City Hall and the “business of the city is not getting done.”

Ever since the election last year, the Nanaimo Council was in a stalemate position about the Colliery Dams. Five councillors would not agree with the other three and the mayor on what to do.

The threat was that if council didn’t fix the dams Nanaimo would be fined a $1 million a day by the province.

Previously, the five councillors had complained that the Mayor and three councillors were not interested in going to talk to the provincial government. The five councillors spoke of the whole process as being a complete sham.

Why didn’t  the entire council meet with the provincial government and ask for financial help? Only the five councillors met with the Deputy Minister who oversees the Dam Safety Section. Mayor McKay would not give his endorsement or participate in the meeting.

Council votes in harmony

At approximately 10:30pm Yoachim’s motion was raised again and it passed unanimously. All eight councillors and the mayor voted in favour of building the auxiliary spillway for approximately $5 million.

It was interesting to observe how happy Nanaimo Council was at the end of the meeting. It was as if everyone had won the lottery.  Councillor Bestwick, who was attending via phone link, commented “I don’t want to hold up the party” when he voted yes along with everyone else.

At question period a regular council watcher, who at previous meetings repeated a request to investigate the drain plugged with concrete, was laughing and joking with the Mayor.

What changed?

BC Government Exaction

If the province is insisting that the dams be fixed then why will they not help out the taxpayers of Nanaimo?

Councillor Brennan commented we own it so we fix it. If that is the case why were there no efforts to maintain Colliery Dams in the first place? Why such a waste of taxpayers money? Is someone looking for a lucrative contract?


This sounds like the last council when they said “sorry there is nothing we can do” we have to sell Nanaimo’s harbour.

It will be very interesting to see if the “Colliery Dams political theatre” is repeated with the upcoming incinerator planned for Duke Point.