Tag Archives: nanaimo

Cottle Creek: mapping Nanaimo waterways

Urban planning around Nanaimo’s natural waterways is a challenge.  Typically, urban cities in the past have piped and buried all the smaller streams and creeks and infilled  wetlands because people didn’t see any value in retaining them.

LinleyV3 Cottle Creek: mapping Nanaimo waterways
Wetland in Linley Valley – world class urban planning includes saving wildlife refuges in the middles of cities

Below is a map showing Nanaimo watercourses in 1993.

NanaimoWaterways1 Cottle Creek: mapping Nanaimo waterways
Nanaimo Waterways 1993

At the time of the mapping 60 watercourses were identified and at that point six had been infilled or piped inside the City Boundary.

The two red dots mark where parts of the Cottle Creek stream were piped down to the ocean and the green dot shows the Cottle Creek system where it flows into Departure Bay.

What has changed in the last 21 years? The Cottle Creek system is under real threat with the construction of Linley Valley Drive which is planned to cut through wetland areas behind Oliver Woods and over to Rock City Road.  Below is a closer map of the Cottle Creek system and the connecting wetlands.

CottleCreek 300x200 Cottle Creek: mapping Nanaimo waterways
Cottle Creek and Linley Valley

Thanks to Nanaimo City Hall Bloggers we are now learning about the death of the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) and what it means.

Here is the timeline of how the City of Nanaimo got rid of the UCB and opened the door to the Linley Valley, Cable Bay, Lantzville Foothills and Sandstone developments:

In 1994 Council received a report entitled “Managing Blocks of Vacant Land”. This report provided options for reviewing development applications within Linley Valley.

In 1996, with the adoption of Plan Nanaimo, the City’s Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) was established to clearly define those areas of the City where urban growth was expected and was to be encouraged.

At the January  14, 2008, meeting of Nanaimo Council, the UCB was killed with almost no audience to witness and only one councillor defending it.

City Manager Gerry Berry commented at the meeting it was necessary to get rid of the UCB in order to open up the City for development.  Councillor Sherry asked if this was a ‘City’ driven agenda.

Here is a clip of the meeting back in 2008.

Unfortunately, setting aside a ‘Stanley Park’ in the middle of Nanaimo was not in the plans back then.  Here we are in 2014 facing the destruction of large areas of  Linley Valley for new roads and developments which are effectively subsidized by Nanaimo taxpayers.

It is up to the people to demand that saving Linley Valley is a priority. Keep sending your emails of concern to mayor.council@nanaimo.ca and follow Team Save Linley Valley West on Facebook.

British Empire and Canada’s changing demographics

Nanaimo has held celebrations to mark Queen Victoria’s Birthday in May. The first recorded Victoria Day event in 1863 was marked with various activities such as foot races,  sailing and shooting matches, Snuneymuxw canoe races, a 21 gun salute and drumming.

In the early 1900s, ‘Empire Day’ was observed each year on the school day preceding Victoria Day. A primary aim was to stimulate patriotism and imperial loyalty among the children of newly arrived immigrants from countries other than England.

In later years, instead of celebrating the Queen’s Birthday separately, it was decided to join the two events as one and the name ‘Empire Day’ stuck.

What was the British Empire?

EastIndiaCo British Empire and Canadas changing demographics
East India Company flag (early corporate branding)

The British Empire began in an earlier era with the founding of companies such as the Hudson’s Bay Company (not to be confused with the retailer of today) and the East India Company. These companies were given royal charters which allowed them to govern large swaths of land in India and Canada. By virtue of a royal chit of paper, these companies were allowed to control the people and resources with their own laws and even, as in the case of the East India Company, their own armies.

The Hudson’s Bay Company ruled the land west of the Rockies, known as ‘New Caledonia’ and introduced their own form of law. Disputes been HBC men, traders and First Nations that threatened the Company’s operations were often settled with violent and deadly informality; a knife to the chest or a shot from an HBC musket.

Ironically, it was during Queen Victoria’s reign that the British government began to realise that these corporations running their own empires were turning people against Britain. In fact British law was nowhere in sight when the people of India had their uprisings against the East India Company. The lines between company and government were blurred, and perhaps on purpose. Clearly, it was time that the British government should take control of its colonies before these companies made a complete mess of things.

Blanshard British Empire and Canadas changing demographics
Richard Blanshard, 1st Governor of Vancouver Island (1850)

The House of Commons in London, England decided to appoint Richard Blanshard to govern the newly created Colony of Vancouver Island in 1850. But he was run out within a few short months. The one thing he did do though when he got back to London was report that everything was controlled by the HBC. Something had to be done to break their stranglehold on the Colony. The House of Assembly was like another board meeting of the HBC; almost all of the representatives were HBC employees and stood to profit on their exclusive trade.

The founding of British Columbia
In 1858, Queen Victoria gave the name British Columbia to the new mainland colony.  (Back then, Vancouver Island was still a separate colony).The following year, HBC’s control of the Colony of Vancouver Island was not renewed and their exclusive trade west of the Rockies was revoked.

After that, colonial settlers from the British Isles came in droves. Many of them spoke the indigenous languages of Wales, Scotland, and of southern England. When they arrived in British Columbia they learned the Chinook trading language and came to appreciate and respect First Nations.

Changing Canadian demographics
In more recent history, Canada’s demographics has changed significantly. This can be seen in Canada’s urban centers. The wave of immigration is no longer coming primarily from Europe but from Asian and South Asian countries.

Recent news reports have pointed out that more people are becoming concerned about Chinese-only signs in Richmond where one in ten residents have no knowledge of the English language.

A Toronto Star article highlighted the issue of ‘white flight’ in Brampton, Ontario. In one decade that city’s population increased by 60% (two thirds from South Asia) while at the same time, Caucasians  declined by 12%.

Preserving Pioneer History
The controversy over the name ‘Empire Days Parade’ in Nanaimo is understandable in light of ‘empire building corporations’.

The British Columbia Pioneer Society was formed as a social organization for British people who arrived in BC prior to 1869. It no longer exists. Maybe it is time to recognize Nanaimo’s colonial settlers and First Nations in a unified event and bring back the canoe races and the foot races of old.

2014 marks 160 years since the Princess Royal sailed into Nanaimo harbour with twenty three miners from Britain with their wives and children, recruited to work in the coal mines by the Hudson’s Bay Company. None of them went back.

Citizens about to get silenced at Nanaimo Council meetings

On April 16, 2014, Nanaimo Council held a Special Governance meeting to discuss  the Draft Procedure Bylaw which would limit citizens’ input at Nanaimo Council meetings.

How will public participation be affected? The following are proposed changes to the Nanaimo Council meeting format:

  • Citizens would have to make their comments on agenda items only, at the beginning of Council meetings.
  • Speakers would be allowed up to two minutes each, for a total time of 10 minutes.
  •  Public delegations would be limited to five minutes, unless Council, by a majority vote, agrees to hear additional delegations.
  • Questions at the end of the meeting would be reserved for media only up to two minutes per person, for a total time of ten minutes.

City staff would choose who speaks
“The number of public delegations shall be limited to four (4) at each meeting.  The Corporate Officer shall be granted the authority to screen delegation requests and, if deemed appropriate, the Corporate Officer can refuse to place a delegation on the agenda.

“If a delegation has no new information and requests to speak, the Corporate Officer is granted the authority to not place the speaker on the agenda.”

Will this make Council meetings more efficient? The old Bylaw 7144.02. 18.7 read: There shall be no limit to the number of delegations for items that have been included on the agenda.

Cost to taxpayers:
The City has paid a consulting firm $75,000 to review and develop this governance policy.  In addition, the following expenses have been approved:

  • Changing the seating layout in the Shaw Auditorium at a cost of approximately $8,000.
  • Consultant Eli Mina to proceed with In-Camera Meetings and Agenda Review recommendations 25, 26, 27 at a cost of $2,250 to $2,625.
  • Consultant Allison Habkirk (Gerry Berry connection) to proceed with Council Roles, Responsibilities and Relationships recommendations 1, 10, 2, 3 and 11 at a cost of up to $8,500.
  • Consultant Eli Mina to ‘enhance’ the Council Procedure Bylaw and other ‘enhancements’ at a cost of up to $9,000.

Nanaimo residents are paying the City Manager over $200,000 a year in addition to the other six figure staffers. The City is spending vast amounts on consultants to do their work.

Shutting up the people
The video below is from Nanaimo Info Blogger who captured a segment of this important governance meeting.  If you listen closely you will hear the following:

City Manager, Mr. Swabey: “There is a big push for representative democracy and I really think that’s not the way to go; you’re elected to make decisions. The crowd is there to witness how democracy works not to be part of it. Whether you address them, that’s wrong or they shout things, that’s wrong; that’s why question period is off..”

People who want to speak at Council meetings, no matter how many, need to be heard.  If it is up to Council and staff to control who can speak then the speakers can be stacked full of ‘supporters’ who parrot one point of view.

Fishy Business

Appearing at several council meetings is a man who sits in the public gallery behind  the  podium waving various signs for the entire meeting. The signs read: ‘arts = welfare’; ‘incinerator = jobs’; ‘Mayor Spend-A-Lot’ as well other signs regarding taxes, council, unemployed etc.  It is very distracting.

SIGNman Citizens about to get silenced at Nanaimo Council meetings
Nanaimo council sign heckler

The strange part of this is that no one has asked this man to move away from the podium area.

In the past, Mayor and Council have all been very vocal in calling the public to order and instructing them to follow proper protocol.  So why have they purposely ignored what this person is doing?

On Monday night, while the  heckler was waving his signs behind an emotional homeowner who was speaking at the podium, Councillor Bestwick asked the homeowner to remember to respect Council.  Meanwhile, no one addressed the heckler’s behaviour.

Why is the Mayor, Council and City condoning this sign heckler’s behaviour? Could this be part of a larger plan to destroy public participation at future Nanaimo Council meetings? Was he provided the signs to hold? Many of the signs appear to be the handwriting of different people.

Nanaimo citizens should not be silenced.  People have worked hard to keep the meetings at a public location, despite the wishes of City Hall. At the new $16 million annex building, where council meetings would otherwise be held, there is no audio/visual hooked up.

Let us keep council meetings open to everyone and not subject to the mercurial whims of a Corporate Officer. Email mayor.council@nanaimo.ca and tell them you care about democracy in Nanaimo.

Recycling in BC with MMBC: end of bottle drives

Recycling in BC is going to change drastically. MMBC is going to launch their program May 19th. Shortly after the provincial election last year, it was decided to replace recycling services which are now being provided by independent recycling companies with a corporate-backed ‘non-profit’ organization called MMBC.  Who is MMBC and what is this about?

2009: Federal government introduces Canada-wide Action Plan for Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) with co-ordinated provincial EPR programs.

September 2012:  Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance Inc (CSSA) forms by a group of retailers that includes Loblaw, Walmart, Metro, Canada Safeway and Sobeys, along with consumer packaged goods companies Kraft, Unilever, P&G, Coca-Cola and Maple Leaf Foods.

2012:  CSSA sets up Multi Material British Columbia (MMBC) as a non-profit organization outside the jurisdiction of the office of the auditor general of BC, and the BC Administration Act.

2012-2013: MMBC lobbies the BC government  to let them be the sole recycler for most of the province

April 15, 2013: BC government approves MMBC stewardship plan

May 2013: MMBC files a notice of intention to borrow $1.5 million from the parent company CSSA (at time of BC election)

May 19, 2014:  The official start date of MMBC program

No provincial accountability
The amount of money that MMBC will receive in the next 5 years will be approximately $400 million. Because MMBC was set up outside the jurisdiction of the office of the auditor general of BC, and the BC Administration Act, the audited financial statements of MMBC from the beginning are not available for scrutiny.

Section 8(2)(f) of the BC Recycling Regulation Act only requires the producer to submit independently audited financial statements if deposits are charged in the case of beverage containers, or if fees are charged by the producer to the consumer to cover the cost of the program and are shown on the consumer sales receipt.

MMBC is not required to report on any recycling data.

How the scheme works
The idea behind Extended Producer Responsibility  (EPR) is to encourage producers to:

  • reduce packaging
  • take the garbage back once the consumer is done with it. (Manufacturers of batteries, paint, smoke alarms and light bulbs have programs set up to receive these items when a consumer returns them for recycling.)

With less than a handful of civil servants overseeing BC EPR programs and dozens of EPR programs in operation, enforcement in BC is highly stretched at best.

Producers must sign on:
MMBC has now publicly announced its intention to expand the policy to include non-BC resident businesses and a three-tiered flat fee ranging from $150 to $1200 annually. The fee levied on those in Tier 2 or Tier 3 is based on an estimated cost of $455 per tonne of packaging and printed paper. Businesses will be asked to pay anywhere from 20 cents to 70 cents per kilogram of recyclable materials.

  • Less than 1/3 of 1% of BC Businesses have agreed to sign on to their program (less than 1500 of over 400,000 businesses in BC)
  • Even with the threat of a $200,000 fine, businesses are reluctant to sign on.
  • MMBC is unwilling to provide information on what it will cost, yet insists in compliance in advance.

Communities were given three options regarding participation in the program:

  • Apply to have MMBC take over residential curbside recycling service (or drop off depots)
  • Apply for a financial incentive from MMBC, with the municipality continuing to provide the service either with its own forces or contracted services
  • Not accept an incentive and continue existing residential recycling services

Most communities had significant concerns with the agreement prepared by MMBC and tried to negotiate changes, which were largely rejected by MMBC.

Recently, MMBC said that there has been insufficient revenue generated from producers to fund all of the communities who applied for incentives. Several communities have been put on a waiting list. The chart below shows the revenue from the EEQ program in Quebec, a subsidiary of CSSA. It continually makes money.

EEQ recycling Recycling in BC with MMBC: end of bottle drives
This chart shows fees collected from municipalities (dark blue) and outstanding (outlined) from EEQ program in Quebec, a subsidiary of CSSA.

MMBC is not clear on what materials will get recycled or burned in any of the incinerators that have been popping up around the country or that are proposed by Metro Vancouver.

Small Scale Recyclers will get wiped out
It is up to MMBC to choose which recycling depots and sorting plants it wants to use. Already, several locally run recycling exchange centres are slated for closure because they are not on the list.

MMBC will pay participating cities “incentives” to participate in their program. The cities are then responsible for paying MMBC contractors for curbside pickup as well as transportation costs incurred.

A fine of $5000 will be levied if any loads delivered with over 3% contamination.  This will bankrupt smaller waste removal companies.  It will also burden regional districts who will face significant fines for non-compliance.

No more bottle drives?
Existing bottle depots may be threatened because MMBC will also collect refundable beverage containers.  School teams and community groups that depend on bottle drives to raise money may also lose out if there’s less to collect.

The BC Bottle and Recycling Depot Association lobbied for years to expand the deposit system to include milk cartons and other containers, from hair spray canisters to detergent bottles. They argue the refunds offered would ensure a high rate of recycling through depots, as with beverage cans now.

Glass collection
MMBC says it will pay a flat rate of $80/tonne for glass collection. This is interesting because there is no place in BC to recycle glass. There is one place that needs glass, besides landfills. Incinerators melt glass which turns into slag and covers the “under-fire air” that helps the waste to burn.

Unfair Costs
Considering that the MMBC is largely made up of grocery store chains like Sobey’s and Loblaw’s, it’s not surprising that they’re going to make farmers pay for the recovery of plastic clamshells even though they’re the ones who demand berries be sold that way.

B.C. Agriculture Council vice-chair Stan Vander Waal said that MMBC fees will cost his Chilliwack farm $60,000 to $100,000 a year. If the berries go unsold, then who will sort the expired food from the clamshells?

The short video below shows the waste from the grocery industry.

It has been reported that the City of Nanaimo will save $35 per household by participating in the MMBC program. However, it is impossible to say there will be savings in the future without taking into account other costs such as transportation and tipping fees, as well as fines for contaminated loads.

In the end BC taxpayers will have to pay twice; on their property taxes and at the store.  Instead of BC communities realizing the profits from recycling, those profits will realized by the corporations running the MMBC program.

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.