Tag Archives: RDN

Environment and Grant Committees Axed

At the July 11th Nanaimo Council meeting it was announced that there would be a reorganizing of the Council committees.

Environment and Grant Committees Axed

The big news was the elimination of two standing committees — Grants and ACES (Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability).

The six new committees are:

  • Finance and Audit
  • Public Safety
  • Culture Heritage and Social Planning
  • Parks Recreation and Wellness
  • Public Works and Engineering
  • Community Planning and Development

Proposed changes to committees include:

  • Nanaimo Culture & Heritage Commission (NCHC) – amalgamate with SPAC (Social Planning Advisory Committee)
  • Parks Recreation and Wellness –  add ACES members
  • Planning & Transportation – add ACES members
  • Safer Nanaimo – enhance mandate
  • Social Planning  – amalgamate with NCHC
  • Finance and Audit – establish a subcommittee for grants

There were two members of the public who spoke about the lack of public consultation, and the new grant application review process using a sub-committee structure that only includes councillors and no members of the public. One speaker suggested a purchasing oversight committee.

Councillors Pratt and Brennan raised concerns about combining Social Planning with Culture and Heritage and axing ACES.

Here are some of the councillors’ comments:

Hong: …all committees at the RDN are select…they do it so we can too…I am okay with social planning and culture… poverty and silver spoon people can work together…let’s give this a try…

Pratt: …I find your silver spoon comment offensive…I love the idea of a lobby group we need to lobby the government…two full groups…social and culture…

Kipp: …we already lobby the government…

Brennan: …we need a stand alone environmental committee….we made a promise to the public that we would have an environmental committee …culture and social justice don’t go together…Lobby? We lobby through UBCM and FCM and we got the gas tax money…we need to be looking at the long game…Does this work for the public? We haven’t asked them…this is a full-blown dismantling …

Fuller:…culture…starving artists…they know about friggin’ poverty…graffitists…some become famous …culture and poverty and art go together; they fit…If you want to see culture go hang out with the homeless…

Yaochim: …’full-blown dismantling’?…how is it full-blown ??…same committee members as last time…we will follow common sense…

Bestwick: (on audio link)…call the vote…I don’t agree it is a full-blown dismantling…if it is not working…then we will wise up to make adjustments…we will learn as we go…

Mckay: …it is a complex issue…we all agreed we want to see committee numbers reduced….we have commissions but they have no authority…I like Langford’s style…but it doesn’t follow the community charter…select committee… is short term… I agree with the CAO…but I can’t support this if it goes against the charter…

The Vote

Councillors Hong, Yoachim, Bestwick, Kipp, Fuller voted to adopt the new changes. Mayor McKay and Councillor Brennan voted against. Councillor Thorpe was absent.

The pubic can give their comments at the July 25th e-Town Hall meeting starting at 7:00pm.

Is the City becoming anti-environment?

The dismantling of the ACES committee is an indicator of how the City administration views the environment.

Concerns about recycling, illegal dumping, tree removal, waterways, streams, watershed, urban forests, invasive species – where will these topics be addressed?

Paving last stand of trees for parking lot

One of the last treed lots in north Nanaimo is slated to be paved over for the expanded parking lot next to the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) on Hammond Bay Road.

Uplands and Hammond Bay Road in Nanaimo
Uplands and Hammond Bay Road in Nanaimo

Massive problem: illegal garbage dumping in Nanaimo Regional District

How frustrated are Mid Vancouver Island residents with illegal garbage dumping?  Extremely frustrated.

Illegal dumping raises significant concerns with regard to public health and safety, property values, and the environment. If not addressed, illegal dumps:

  •  attract more waste
  •  attract rats
  • spread disease
  • pose a fire risk (become targets for arson)
  • serve as magnets for other criminal activities (dumping stolen items)
  • contaminate drinking water
  • harm fish habitat
  • spread invasive plants

In lower income areas, residents have difficulty affording trash pickup and disposal fees. The problem tends to be worse in areas with a high population of renters who have less stake in the community or absentee property owners who do not respond to problems. At the same time, illegal dumping is given a low priority by local governments.

The City of Nanaimo apparently has a budget of $20,000 a year to deal with illegally dumped garbage out of a $200 million dollar budget.

Volunteer clean up Nanaimo from illegal dumping
Volunteers clean up Nanaimo from illegal dumping

Recently, residents had enough of an illegal dump site behind Rosstown Road in Nanaimo and 27 people came to clean up the area. They removed 4.14 tonnes of garbage.

The facebook site “Stop Illegal Garbage Dumping” where these pictures are from shows the great efforts people have taken to do something about illegal garbage dumping locally.

Little Mountain Errington illegal garbage dumping
Little Mountain Errington illegal garbage dumping

The facebook site also highlights illegal garbage dumping at Little Mountain in Errington and the unusual odors emanating from this illegal dump. Over the years people have raised their concerns but so far the regional district hasn’t made any plans to clean it up.

According to the Regional District of Nanaimo’s website in 2012 they recovered 42 tonnes of  illegal garbage spread out over more than 60 locations.  But has anything been done recently?

Those who dump waste illegally will be subject to a fine of up to $200,000 in the RDN.

It doesn’t appear from their websites that the communities of Nanaimo, Lantzville, Ladysmith, or Parksville have any fines for dumping illegal garbage. Nor do they have any page on their websites where someone can report illegally dumped garbage such as this online form from the City of Richmond.

Cassidy and Errington have a garbage problem
Despite the fact that garbage collection is a service provided by the RDN in Cassidy and Errington, it appears by all the dumped garbage in the backwoods and roads in the area that a LOT of residents “dump or lose” their trash.

Cassidy Illegal Garbage Dump
Cassidy Illegal Garbage Dump just down the road from the new dump

Volunteers removed eight to ten tonnes of illegally dumped garbage on logging roads from Cassidy down to Peerless Road in Ladysmith (near the new dump, ironically).  According to the facebook site volunteers have cleaned this same stretch yearly for the last four years,  collecting about eight tonnes per year.

**Representatives from the RDN must canvas these areas to find out why the residents are dumping and what can be done to address this issue.

Nanaimo Visitor Centre across from illegal garbage dump
On Northfield Road, directly across from the Nanaimo Visitor Centre, sits piles of illegally dumped garbage. Let’s remember tourists are in the process of deciding if they want to visit downtown Nanaimo and enjoy our beautiful harbour city.  Will this pile of garbage turn them off?

Over a million dollars for bird contract at garbage dump
In 2013, PK Bird Control Services was awarded a three-year, $649,500 contract “to keep the skies clear” at Nanaimo’s regional landfill (8 birds & 6 handlers). Over the years this has added up to over a million dollars on bird control services.  There should be no food waste to attract birds anymore so is this really necessary? The contract is set to expire early next year. Could this same amount of money be applied to cleaning up the Nanaimo area?

Still no yard waste collection in Nanaimo
There are currently 26,414 households that receive garbage collection.  There are still no plans to start yard waste collection in Nanaimo. Other communities have it. Why not here?

The cost of dumping yard waste at the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange is:
$5 minimum (even for a small grocery bag)
$10 car or van
$15 regular truck or trailer (overload rates apply)

Taxes are going up every year, the governments are growing and people are seeing less and less services. Why should people spend their spare hours cleaning up after thoughtless people? Let’s demand service from our local governments to get the mid island cleaned up.

Via Rail squeezes Vancouver Islanders for more money

On Tuesday, April 8th, RDN Director Marc Lefebvre of Parksville will put forward a motion of non-confidence in the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) based on their “inability to negotiate an agreement with VIA Rail, and lack of information on how current taxpayers’ dollars and ICF revenues are being spent on necessary repairs.”

Via Rail President M. Laliberté said they won’t spend more than the $1.4 million annual subsidy it allocated to the Island route. In addition, they say they need a new station for Victoria and a new maintenance yard. The ICF has proposed to build a new Victoria station and move maintenance to Nanaimo, as long as Via Rail pledges $1.8 million to run their trains.

Ladysmith Train Station
Via Rail train station at Ladysmith –  boarded up since 2011

Via Rail isn’t budging and now communities on mid-Vancouver Island want to get their money back from reserve. Time is running out.

Via Rail, a Crown corporation, had a contract to run passenger trains along the former E&N railway. In 2011, Via Rail deemed the tracks, owned by ‘Southern Railway’ (a subsidiary of Washington Group, which also operates Seaspan), were too unsafe and withdrew its railcars from the Island.

In other areas of the country, Via Rail has cut service for similar reasons, including the Gaspé region of Quebec and a 70-kilometre line between Bathurst and Miramichi.

Over the last six years, Via Rail has been handed $2.3 billion from taxpayers in operating subsidies and capital grants. In 2012, Via Rail received $280 million from the Federal government; a seven percent increase from the previous year.

Via Rail says that it is not making money from these routes, but this is not true.  According to their financial report, there were actuarial losses on defined benefit plans of $101.2 million for 2012, compared to $288.1 million for the year 2011. Why should taxpayers suffer because of their own mismanagement?

Speaking of management, the following travel, hospitality and conference expenses were submitted during 2012 for a total of $256,441:

  • Paul G. Smith, Chairman of the Board – $7,983
  • Marc Laliberté, President and CEO – $36,430
  • Executive management committee members – $151,050
  • Board of Directors members – $60,978

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s appointee to the board of Via Rail in 2007-08 was Conservative Senator Leo Housakos, who had taken an illegal donation from Lino Zambito, of Charbonneau fame.

Transportation infrastructure on Vancouver Island:

How long can people travel on the Island highway without paying tolls? With the proposed increase in truck traffic, carrying coal, or toxic soil up the Mallahat, improvements to our highways will have to be made.

Islanders are paying for ferries while people elsewhere in the province ride for free. Who would listen or care if we were soon forced to pay a toll on our Island highway?

The time is now for the federal government to spend on transportation infrastructure on Vancouver Island.

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange faces closure

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange (NRE) faces closure if they can’t get local governments to provide financial support. Where will people go to drop off their yard waste? Will illegal dumping result?

NRE began in 1990 after a private firm that had obtained a curbside pickup contract in Nanaimo folded within months, leaving the City without recycling services.  The original location for NRE was at 2214 McCullough Road in Nanaimo until it out grew its location.

The NRE does not own the property it occupies at 2477 Kenworth Road but they own the property next door and have plans for a new centre that would see its operations moved indoors.  The project is budgeted at $1.7 million.

Nanaimo Recycling Exchange
Nanaimo Recycling Exchange on Kenworth Road

Back in January 2014, RDN directors requested that staff draft a report on ways they might respond to the NRE’s funding request.

There are many advantages to the concept of the recycling exchange. It is a one-stop place to go to recycle everything. You can take most household products  such as styrofoam, glass jars, hazardous household waste, paints, fertilizers, batteries, light bulbs, yard waste drop off, old electronics for recycling and the second hand shop is a popular place to drop off or pick up items.

Why doesn’t the RDN and the City of Nanaimo run this valuable service as an extension of the city dump? A proactive approach needs to be taken regarding recycling and garden waste. In Nanaimo there is no pick up of branches or garden clippings; consequently, people often just dump this into the bush.

If you would like to show your support for saving the NRE you can sign their petition. On the petition it says 15,000 tons a year of recyclable or re-usable material would end up in a landfill and over 100 volunteers and workers would ultimately have no place to call home, if the NRE closed its doors.

Regional District of Nanaimo taxes to increase by 32%

It’s not every day that our local daily newspaper asks people to revolt – yes stand up and scream! Why?! Regional District of Nanaimo taxes are to increase 32% over the next five years.

The RDN directors will vote on the 2014 -2018 Financial Plan at the next  board meeting  February 25, 2014. The RDN is anticipating to collect $52.8 million a year by 2018; last year they collected $40.1 million.

What does the RDN do? RDN is responsible for administration, local governance, and local services such as transit, solid waste, recreation facilities, water and parks.

What’s the money for? Major infrastructure projects are for:

  • $18 million sewage outfall pipe in Nanaimo
  • $1.5 million for firehall upgrades
  • $15.5 million for transit expansion
  • $12 million to convert old landfill to a park

Where can the RDN save money? Cut the number of transit mangers. They don’t need a manager for every zone. Get more buses and more drivers. There is no bus from Ladysmith to Nanaimo. Also, does the City of Nanaimo need to have 7 representatives on the Board? There seems to be an over-representation from the City.

Who are the directors at the RDN? The RDN is governed by an elected Board of 17 Directors. They are the following:

Alec McPherson: Electoral Area A Cedar
Howard Houle: Electorial Area B Gabriola
Maureen Young: Electorial Area C Extention

George Holme: Electoral Area E Nanoose Bay
Julian Fell: Electorial Area F Errington
Joe Stanhope: Electoral Area G French Creek
Bill Veenhof: Electorial Area H Deep Bay

Dave Willie:  Mayor of Qualicum
Marc Lefebvre:  Mayor of Parksville
Jack de Jong:  Mayor of Lanztville

Cityof Nanaimo
John Ruttan – Mayor of Nanaimo
George Anderson
Bill Bestwick
Diane Brennan
Ted Greves
Diana Johnstone
Jim Kipp

Does Nanaimo pay taxes to the RDN? 9% of the taxes collected from Nanaimo residents go to the RDN.

Taxpayers of the RDN saw an increase of taxes this year of 5.2 %. Living on Vancouver Island there are many issues causing people to revolt; expensive and unreliable ferry service, closing schools in CedarParksville, and Qualicum, water worries, burning  Vancouver’s garbage.

This RDN tax increase comes at a very difficult time when residents of Lanztville are facing an approximate 11% increase in taxes and Gabriola is undergoing a mass exodus, as people are leaving because of deteriorating ferry service. Many of these RDN Directors seem to think that people have endless bags of money. The reality is those with the resources will just pack up and move. Is the RDN is banking on a new wave of people  arriving with deep pockets?

If you would like to give your feedback on the tax increases, send an email to corpsrv@rdn.bc.ca . Also, please request that the RDN meetings be recorded on video as they are at the City of Nanaimo and other communities.  Let’s hope the RDN will work towards being more transparent.

Possible Pocket Park across from RDN headquarters

Is there a possibility that a pocket park could be made across from RDN headquarters?

There is lots of activity happening at the corner of Uplands Drive and Hammond Bay Road.  The new Hammond Bay Road Library is well on the way to being built, the area is outlined in blue.  Just out the back at 6025 Uplands Drive the lot has been cleared for the new “wet” housing project to be called Uplands Walk, outlined in red.

What will happen to the last block of trees at the corner of Hammond Bay Road and Calinda? This lot is just across the street from the Regional District of Nanaimo head office.  Wouldn’t it be an idea to save this last lot as a pocket park?

There are some major heat islands in this area and some planning needs to be done to mitigate this effect.

Uplands and Hammond Bay Road in Nanaimo
Uplands and Hammond Bay Road in Nanaimo – last block of trees- future pocket park or parking lot?