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.
The idea is that the new OCQBIA group will make improvements and keep the area clean.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (250) 713-3374.
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.
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:
amend the Official Community Plan
remove the land from the Urban Reserve
have it rezoned for a steep slope subdivision
Below are the plans for the housing development. The red dot is Lost Lake.
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:
Destroy an ecological gem and irreparably damage the ecosystem of the entire Linley Valley, which is home to many at risk species.
Devastate sensitive wetlands and downstream water systems, which are critical habitat for migrating birds, beavers and many other plants and animals.
Severely diminish the cultural and recreational value of the forest that Nanaimo has assembled to create the Linley Valley-Cottle Lake Park.
Massively increase the daily traffic on Lost Lake Road.
Dangerously increase the fire risk in this urban/forest interface which is outside the six-minute fire response area.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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)
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 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?
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.
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:
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…
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…
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?…
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.
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)…
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.
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:
Alexis Taylor Middleton
If you want to learn more about these Nanaimo by-election candidates and their thoughts on City topics, visit Our Nanaimo (ournanaimo.com).
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?
Good question! You can keep it to use around the home OR clean it & drop it off at Public Works & we’ll make sure it’s reused/recycled.
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
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.
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.
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:
It has been over a month since Nanaimo Council has had a regular council meeting. But, a ‘special’ council meeting will be held Monday, June 12th at 7pm open at the VICC. What is a Special Council meeting? Is it a Committee of the Whole meeting or a regular council meeting or something else? Read on.
Coming up Monday’s agenda are some hot topics such as garbage collection, rails to trails, and a town hall pilot program! Some large developments up for approval include a 14-unit building at 1015 Park Avenue, a 72-unit building at 6025 Linley Drive, and a 7-unit mixed use building at 253 Victoria Road. A small lot development is proposed for 5030 Hammond Bay Road, where 1 lot will be divided into 5.
The City of Nanaimo is going to start a ‘Town Hall Pilot Program’ this fall. What do people want to talk about? Hmmm…are we getting ready to burn garbage again? What mega project does the City have in mind this time? The City will first put together a group of people from Council and the community. Then they will hold two town hall meetings and an on-line survey to find out what people want out of this new ‘Town Hall Pilot Program’.
Are you confused yet?
New Garbage Collection – new user fees
Council has approved a new automated garbage collection system. This will require an increase in user fees for garbage over the next five years.
residential rate: $102.75 current / new $118.04
commerical rate: $137.83 current / new $158.34
Also, each resident must purchase a new green bin for $25 (old green bins don’t work with the new trucks). What are people going to do with their old garbage and green bins? Will the City collect them and sell them to another community to use? Or will 45,000 households have to drive down to the dump and pay another fee just to dispose them?
1015 Park Avenue
There is a proposed 14-unit, three storey development at 1015 Park Avenue – currently a forested ridge on a steep slope.
This area is currently being used by neighbourhood residents. The owner has indicated that they are open to dedicating part of the area as a park if the development gets approved.
6025 Linley Valley Drive
There are plans for a 72-unit, five storey rental development with 19 underground parking spaces at 6025 Linley Valley Drive. The builder has made a request to reduce parking by 22 spaces for a total of 97 rather than 119.
253 Victoria Road
The original proposal for this lot was for an 18-unit development. The project has been scaled back to a 7-unit, 3 storey mix use live and work building.
5030 Hammond Bay Road
The new owner wants to divide a single family lot into five. No lane is proposed, and the new homes are to be accessed from Williamson Road. The new homes will each have secondary suites.
Boxwood Road has really changed over the years. More industrial lots are planned in the red squares.
5264 Sherbourne Drive
31 people signed a petition against a development at 5264 Sherbourne Drive – Council approved the project at 3rd reading. Councillor Fuller was absent for the May 4th public hearing.
Old City Quarter
Old City Quarter Business Improvement Area was created and approved by Council on May 8th. The purpose is to collect taxes to make improvements to the Old City Quarter.
Rails to Trails
On Monday night Councillor Bestwick will bring forward a motion regarding Rails to Trails Vancouver Island to convert the rail system from Parksville to Courtenay with a trail; and,
complete a pedestrian trail from Parksville to Coombs because no money has come to repair the existing railway.
If you look at Europe and China, they are developing their rail systems, not ripping them out. When the population of Nanaimo reaches half a million in the next 20 years, how will people get around? The Island Highway and the Parkway will be gridlocked.
Some Nanaimo council members are in Ottawa this week for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Conference (June 1 – 4). They will join 1,900 municipal leaders at Canada’s largest municipal conference.
The theme of the conference is nation building – how our cities and towns shape Canada.
Some of the issues to be discussed at the conference include:
What ideas will Nanaimo council gain from this conference? Hmmm…
How can Nanaimo get access to some of the $3.9 billion earmarked for public transit over the next five years?
Did you know that every year in Canada $10 billion in productivity is lost due to traffic congestion? In Toronto, for example people are having to commute an average of four hours a day.
Transit problems are related to the housing crisis. Because housing has become unaffordable, people have to relocate farther and farther away from their work or school.
The three main problems facing Nanaimo and other BC towns are:
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson chairs the Big City Mayors’ Task Force on the Opioid Crisis. More than 400 people in BC have died from opioids this year.
“The federal response so far isn’t reaching the frontlines in the way we need to save lives and tackle this crisis. Mayors are ready to help turn this around, but we need to be at the table. It’s time for all orders of government to get behind a coordinated action plan, before this opioid crisis spirals further out of control.”
What new steps are going to be taken?
More and more people every day are being run out of their homes because of rampant housing market speculation. This has reached a crisis in many towns. As of March 2017, there were approximately 70 homeless camps in the Lower Mainland.
There are three main branches to this problem:
condos and houses are being marketed offshore to foreign buyers
Five homeless people per day are dying in the streets in Canada.
Everywhere you look people are dumping garbage—it is a crisis.
Bill Veenhof, RDN chair said in a press release:
“I think there are a number of reasons why people dump illegally including lack of awareness about how easy and inexpensive recycling is in our region. In many cases, the dumped items can be recycled free of charge or for a small fee at any number of recycling depots in our region.”
Eliminate dumping fees and illegal dumping will be a thing of the past. The RDN needs to expand recycling services so that people don’t have to get into their vehicles just to recycle a few plastic bags and glass jars. SORT WASTE AND SAVE SPACE!