Tag Archives: ladysmith

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.

Predicting Nanaimo voter turnout 2014 and more

The big question on everyone’s mind is how many people will vote in the 2014 civic election? There was one advance poll held on November 5th. Here is the voter turnout:

  • Nanaimo: 835 voters
  • Parksville: 301 voters
  • Qualicum Beach: 702 voters
  • Port Alberni: 624 voters

[wp_charts title=”Population” type=”pie” align=”alignleft” margin=”5px 20px” width=30% colors=”#0000C8,#C80000,#00C800,#F2E516,#CEBC17,#CE4264″ data=”1,2.5,3.5,3.5″]

The circle shows the number of people who voted compared to the relative populations:
Nanaimo: 83,810 (blue)
Parksville 11,852 (red)
Qualicum Beach 8,481 (green)
Port Alberni 17,743 (yellow)

Let’s hope more Nanaimo residents will vote. Everyone makes a difference!

Here is a quick overview of civic election hot topics and referendum questions for the mid Vancouver island area:

Referendum questions: none
Hot topics:  Colliery Dams, tax increases, long term lease of Georgia Park, incinerator at Duke Point

Referendum questions: none
Hot topics:  the estimated $37 million water treatment project on the Englishman River

Qualicum Beach:
Referendum questions: 1
increasing in size of Town of Qualicum Beach Council from 4 councillors to 6 councillors
Hot topics: Expanding the community boundaries

Port Alberni:
Referendum questions: 2
borrowing for a bridge at Roger Creek at 10th Avenue,  approximate cost $14.6 million resulting in tax increases to the average homeowner of $160 per year for 25 years.
– establishing a Sproat Lake Marine Patrol service
Hot topics: Tax increases, water, air quality

Referendum questions: 1
non-binding opinion referendum question on providing funding for the Cowichan Sportsplex
Hot topics: Expanding the community boundaries

Nanaimo Regional District:
Referendum questions: none
Hot topics: Tax increases, incinerator

Referendum Questions: 1
reducing the size of the District of Lantzville Council from 6 councillors to 4 councillors
Hot topics: Expansion of boundaries, tax increases, water

In the last three years there have been hundreds of people who attended Council or Committee Of the Whole (COW) meetings in Nanaimo. Every area of Nanaimo has been affected by City of Nanaimo decisions:

North Nanaimo: Pioneer Park, Hammond Bay cell tower
Central Nanaimo: Linley Valley, Linley Valley Drive
Departure Bay: BC Ferry signage, mall expansion into Lynburn Estates
South Nanaimo: Colliery Dams, Harbour sale, Georgia Park

In addition, there were zoning changes that brought many concerned residents to come before council meetings.

If every one of these people who appeared at COW meetings and Council meetings were to get out and vote and convince one or two others, the turnout for Nanaimo could be record-breaking. Some predict the Nanaimo voter turnout could be in the 35-38% range. Only 27% of eligible voters in Nanaimo cast their ballots in 2011.

You have 2 more chances to vote. Make it count!

  • Wednesday, November 12th from 8 am to 8 pm and
  • the BIG voting day is Saturday, November 15th
Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day – Lest we Forget.

***Remember those who were sent to off to war.  On the 11th hour of November 11th, pause and reflect on those who sacrificed their lives so you have the opportunity to vote.

This photo was taken October 1, 1940 in New Westminster. These men from Nanaimo were marching off to the Second World War in Europe.

Cedar Parents Shocked by SD68 Treatment of School Principals

Why did SD68 trustees give District Superintendent David Hutchinson sweeping powers? This has allowed him to punish those that speak out.

Three of the four schools in the Cedar catchment have now lost their school Principals.

Cedar Elementary (CE) – Cathal Walsh (GONE)
North Cedar Intermediate  (NCI)- Peter Skipper (GONE)
Ladysmith Secondary (LSS) – Dave Street (GONE)
Woodbank Primary (Unchanged)

There is a complete disregard for the students and families of Cedar and Ladysmith.

Ladysmith Secondary Principal Dave Street has been demoted to Woodlands.  (Principals get paid by the number of students and Woodlands has fewer students than LSS).  It is very obvious that Mr. Street is being punished for his support of Cedar parents.

Mr. Street was one of the main reasons half of the Cedar Secondary School population chose LSS despite the fact that Mr. Hutchinson refused to supply buses. What does that tell you?

Mr. Street went out of his way to make the students who are being displaced feel welcome and made them look forward to being part of the Ladysmith community.  He visited Cedar Secondary several times to get to know all the students and their needs and to make this  transition as painless as possible for the students.

Yet no one from Barsby Secondary has ever been to Cedar Secondary to work on a transition with the students.

In another head scratching move, Mr. Huchinson has decided to move Mr. Skipper to Ladysmith Intermediate to fill Mr. Walsh’s spot at Cedar Elementary.  So the students at North Cedar Intermediate (NCI) get a new principal for their final year before the school closes permanently.

Cedar parents want their school principals treated with respect and reinstated at their respective schools.

It is time for SD68 Superintendent Hutchinson to admit that planning mistakes have been made. Closing the only high school in Cedar is not the answer. Spending all of SD68’s money to convert the newest high school in the district and the only high school in Cedar into a ‘mega’ elementary is the wrong decision.

When one person holds all the power, we are in trouble. Let us get it right.

SD68 budget: 44 full-time jobs to be cut

Every parent should make plans to attend the School District 68 public budget meeting on Tuesday, April 15 at 6 pm at NDSS (Nanaimo District Secondary School 355 Wakesiah Avenue). If you want to make a presentation, contact ckelt @ sd68.bc.ca or call (250) 741-5238 before noon on Monday, April 14.

This meeting is important because the Nanaimo-Ladysmith Board of Education is in the process of setting the SD68 budget for 2014-15 which is facing a $5.4 million shortfall next year. The Board is scheduled to make final decisions on the budget at a Special Board Meeting at 6 pm on Wednesday, April 30.

The proposed budget cuts total $6.8 million, which is $1.4 million more than the $5.4 million needed.

44 full-time jobs are planned to be cut. So far it appears that the following will be eliminated:

  • 19 teaching positions
  • all secondary teacher librarians
  • 3 elementary counsellors

Unless there is public outcry, there will be NO cuts to senior management who plan to:

  • reduce number of custodians
  • reduce staff as a result of school consolidations
  • reduce carpenter position
  • reduce one bus driver position
  • reduce education assistant contingency budget
  • change distance learning at secondary schools
  • restructure secondary school libraries
  • reduce transportation assistance budget
  • reorganize Learning Services zone teams
  • delay elementary school computer upgrading
  • align supervision aide positions with existing school-based positions
  • revise school clerical allocation formulas
  • reduce services at District Administration Centre
  • use 2012-13 operating surplus of $1.5 million
  • use $1 million from “clawback” in 2013-14 budget

The proposed budget reductions will be discussed in meetings set for Wednesday, April 16th; Tuesday, April 22nd; and Monday, April 28th. All meetings are open to the public and will be held in the Board Room of the District Administration Centre at 6 pm.

Since 2011-12, SD68 received $12.4 million in a Funding Protection Grant, which is the highest amount received by any school district in the province, but this is  being phased out and it is expected that it will no longer be available in 2016-17.

Next year, the Ministry of Education grant to SD68 will be $1.7 million less than this year. SD68 district faces additional costs, such as benefits increases and utilities.

Serious problems for parents to consider:
Since 2004, there has been a 7.1% increase in the number of administrators. At the same time there has been a significant drop in educators.

Here are some stats for 2004-2009:
SD68: 10 more administrators hired, 13 less teaching positions.
SD69: 5.70 more administrators hired, 18 less teaching positions.

Unlike student/teacher ratios, there is no formula for the number of administrators in any of the province’s 44 school districts. Each school district is given a lump sum of money and it’s their choice on what to do with it.

Nowhere has School District 68 proposed to make up for the shortfall of money by cutting upper management. Why do they need 6 superintendents for over $1.3 million? It’s time for parents to demand more education dollars go towards their children.

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.

SD68 in BC Supreme Court for all the wrong reasons

Update from Save Cedar Schools Coalition regarding SD68 in BC Supreme Court:

On March 11 and 12, 2014 the Save Cedar Schools Coalition sent representatives to Victoria to watch as the Snuneymuxw First Nation and School District 68 went head to head in the BC Supreme Court over the definition of “meaningful consultation”.

“Save Cedar Schools 100% supports the Snuneymuxw First Nation in their efforts to have a meaningful engagement in the decisions made regarding the education of their children.

All that the Snuneymuxw First Nation has asked SD68 to do is overturn the bylaws closing all the Cedar area schools, reopen the consultation process in order to create the opportunity to have meaningful engagement in the writing of the Enhanced Facilities for Learning Plan,” Steve Rae of Save Cedar Schools, states.

This request would have cost SD68 little to no money.

Instead, SD68 has chosen to fight the Snuneymuwx in court, resulting in mounting legal fees for both parties.  It is unfortunate that it has come to this when there was a simple, cost effective, educationally sound response to the reasonable request made by the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

Rae adds, “Unfortunately this type of irresponsible decision making is becoming the norm rather than the exception in SD68.  SD68 has been crying poverty for months, even years now and yet once again, SD68 and the Board of Education are making irresponsible decisions that will have negative impacts on the education of our children.”

“The decision by the Board of Education to fight this in court instead of sitting down and listening is taking money away from operational programming at a time when this School District needs it more than ever before”, said Steve Rae.  Save Cedar Schools is disappointed, saddened and heartbroken that these are the decisions being made by the same people charged with educating our children.

On March 11 and 12, Joe Arvay, QC and Catherine Boise Parker of Farris Law Group argued for the Snuneymuxw First Nation.  Judith Anderson and Michael Hancock of Harris Law Group argued for SD68.  The Honourable Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson heard the case for the British Columbia Supreme Court.

Save Cedar Schools has also been asking SD68 to reopen the consultation process for months.  Rae says, “We have provided the Board of Education with strong arguments that their plan is both financially and educationally flawed.  For months SD68 and Board of Education has responded to the community of Cedar the same way they have been responding to the Snuneymuxw First Nation, by completely ignoring our reasoned requests and plowing ahead with a plan that is detrimental to our students, our community and the District as a whole.”

Adding insult to injury for both the Snuneymuxw and Save Cedar Schools was the fact that four trustees and Superintendent Hutchinson and Secretary Treasurer Turin from SD68 were in attendance to watch the proceedings and staying overnight in Victoria.

If four trustees and the two most senior staff members of the district had taken two full days to meet with the Snuneymuwx during the consultation process, or at some point between August and December 2013 when they repeatedly asked for input into the writing of the Cedar portion of the Enhanced Facilities for Learning Plan, than we would not have been in Victoria at all.

The fact that seven people from SD68 came to sit in a court room rather than spend that time meeting with the Snuneymuxw First Nation shows that the educational and financial priorities of this district and its Board of Education are completely misguided.

The difference between the District and the Board of Education:
The  District is the paid employees of SD68 whereas Board of Education refers to the Trustees.

At court last week in Victoria were; three District staff members (The superintendent, the secretary treasurer and the District Principal for Aboriginal Education) and four Board of Education  members (Jamie Brennan, Bill Bard, TerryLynn Saunders and Bill Robinson).