Colliery Dams Investigation, wine and sewer

Here are highlights from Monday’s Nanaimo Council meeting on October 19, 2015. Councillor Fuller was acting Mayor. Mayor McKay and Councillor Kipp were absent.

Colliery Dams Independent Investigation:

A delegation gave a presentation on why council should have an investigation into the Colliery Dams renovation project. They submitted a report on the concerns that it is a tainted project. To summarize the points:

  • technical committee didn’t get information they needed
  • wrong approach
  • wrong location
  • project pushed by the BC government


Brennan: the way it has been constructed this report leads to a predetermined outcome, it uses words like ‘somewhat’,… you’ve made some judgements in your presentation…so can you help me with that…

Delegation: … I know it’s going to a government  level…we need to investigate why council was forced into a decision…we need answers…

Brennan: your hope is that this review would find the obstacles in the process…

Bestwick: (makes amendment to include those involved in Colliery Dams since January 2012 be interviewed)

Pratt: I am not in favour of this investigation – it is a waste of money… BC government forced this on us…with their new standards…so we picked the option that works…no different than the drinking water standards that have been forced on us, so we had to build the water treatment plant …we aren’t going to get our money worth on this [investigation]…

Yoachim: …I wish we could do nothing…this saga has gone on too long…there are so many conflicting stories…fear mongering…I need answers..citizens need answers…we are spending $8M…so far conflicting answers..will the mistakes be reviewed? is not a fair process..proper closer needed…

Brennan: I won’t support this..a terrible waste of money..we don’t have support of the community…no idea how much it is going to cost…the provincial government will probably decline to be interviewed…had the City of Nanaimo pushed back on the comptroller then things might be different but it wouldn’t make a difference…the government position was well supported in response to our appeal…the warning signs had to go up…public asked for them…we will have to find the money for this so we will have to comb the budget …we’ve got to get our taxes down I’ve heard people say.. provincial government set the standard and we are meeting the standard…we didn’t get a meeting with the Premier of BC at UBCM—does that have something to do with the Colliery Dam?…

Hong: …I agreed to go forward to build the spillway…expected people to support this investigation…we still have to build the middle spillway…the people of Harwood deserve this investigation…this investigation might reveal what went wrong…we talk about combing through the budget; we have to do it anyway…didn’t we submit the report to the government that the dams need work?…

Swabey: yes we sent the report

Yoachim: I am well aware of the costs of this investigation…

Pratt: I said that the province changed their standards on the dams…I am voting against this investigation…I don’t think this investigation is going to be any different…

Bestwick: …there was fear mongering…150 deaths..rebar in the dams which was omitted in the report…we were under stress to vote [approve] the dam…

Fuller: …I want this to be a serious attempt at an investigation..we did have a select committee which was less than it could have been…i don’t want this investigation to be a joke…

Approved: Hong, Yoacham, Bestwick, Fuller
Opposed to an investigation: Pratt, Brennan, Thorpe
4-3 vote motion passes: Independent consultant to be hired to review the Colliery dams project.

Recording of meetings in the Service & Resource Centre (SARC) Board Room

Staff recommended holding off on video recordings of committee meetings in the SARC boardroom until after the Core Review.

Approved: Thorpe, Brennan
Opposed: Pratt Hong, Yoachim, Bestwick, Fuller
Meetings in the SARC Board Room will be recorded soon.

[Note: Currently, only audio recordings are created for in-camera meetings. These recordings are kept for 1 month then deleted.]

Also, The City Manager commented on the issue of moving the COW meetings starting in 2016 to the SARC boardroom from the current location in the Shaw Auditorium. There was no discussion on this (it wasn’t on the agenda).

Green Lake Sewer hook-ups to get taxed

Council unanimously  approved a sewer tax for Green Lake residents, beginning next year. According to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, 70 homes have had a sewer connection since 2013 but haven’t yet paid taxes for the service. Sewer connection has been established for 78 homes and 20 are in the process of being hooked-up.

 445 Hillcrest avenue

One delegation spoke with concerns and presented two petitions regarding a small lot subdivision.

Wine in grocery stores

Council voted unanimously for a liquor control plan. Six councillors approved having grocery stores apply for permits to sell wine. Only Councillor Bestwick was opposed.

The Province published the British Columbia Liquor Policy Report which contains 73 recommended changes to liquor control legislation and policy within the province. Of those 73 recommendations, 34 have been implemented to date, including the ability to sell BC wine in grocery stores.

There are 14 grocery stores that Staff believe are eligible for wine sales in Nanaimo. The Province does not consider the sale of wine in grocery stores as a liquor store use.

Councillor Hong expressed concerns for the small beer and wine stores that they could lose out to the big grocery stores. Grocery store chains could take over the BC wine market and they would be able to under cut the small guys.

Sanitary Sewer Agreement with the Snuneymuxw Reserves No. 2, 3 and 4

Passed unanimously.

Councillor Yoachim was unsure if he should step out because of a perceived conflict of interest. Councillor Bestwick advised from his experience it would best to step out but it was up to him. No advice came from the City Manager or Staff. In the end Councillor Yoachim stayed and voted.

The City has no in-house lawyer so new councillors must rely on their own intuition. A dangerous situation to be in.

Note: This meeting proceeded smoothly under the acting mayor, Councillor Fuller. There was no acrimonious debate or behaviour. Absent was Mayor McKay – coincidence? Perhaps the $100,000 ‘Get Along’ consultant is just another waste of money.