Tag Archives: Oceanside

Will the Regional District of Nanaimo Devolve?

Will the Regional District of Nanaimo Devolve? RDN stands for Regional District of Nanaimo. It covers a huge area from Deep Bay and Qualicum Beach to the north all the way down to Cedar and Cassidy to the South and Gabriola Island and Mudge Islands to the East.

The three myths of the RDN:

  • RDN doesn’t include cities such as Nanaimo or Parksville
  • RDN board members meet once a year
  • RDN will soon be renamed Regional District of Mid Vanisle

The RDN does collect taxes which are going up again. There are four municipalities in the RDN – Nanaimo, Lantzville, Parksville, and Qualicum Beach. Each receives a variety of services from the RDN and is represented on the Regional Board. Eight of the seventeen RDN board members are from the City of Nanaimo (hence the name “Regional District of Nanaimo”). The RDN board meets twice a month.

New RDN Chair

For the first time in 13 years, the board has elected a new chair. In a secret-ballot vote at a meeting in December 2015 Area H director Bill Veenhof defeated Joe Stanhope for the board Chair position.  Mr. Stanhope was the Chair of the RDN board since 2002.

Bill Veenhof is the RDN Board Chair and Colin Haime, District of Lantzville Mayor, is the Deputy RDN Board Chair.

RDN Tax increases

The RDN board is expected to finalize the 2016 budget recommendations at its February 23, 2016 regular meeting. This will see the following tax increases:

  • City of Nanaimo will see property tax increase to $98 per $100,000 in 2016 from $96 per in 2015.
  • Gabriola Island (Area B) property tax is expected to rise to $98 per $100,000 of assessed value in 2016. It was $91 per $100,000 in 2015.
  • In Area C (Extension, East Wellington and Pleasant Valley), property tax will remain steady at $141 per $100,000 of assessed value.
  • Area A (Cedar, Yellowpoint and Cassidy) could see property tax at $154 per $100,000 in 2016, which is a decrease from $155 per year in 2015.

RDN Regional Growth Strategy

The RDN is in the process of changing its Regional Growth Strategy.

Why the change? Will the urban planners consider climate change in their decisions. Will they curb the sprawl of one level strip malls? You have until February 23, 2016 to give your feedback.

Regional District of Nanaimo - covers mid Vancouver Island
RDN – Regional District of Nanaimo

Swallowing Area G

Area G includes French Creek, Dashwood, and Englishman River.

Could Area G be taken over by the municipalities of Parksville and Qualicum Beach? If they did would that mean a 30% tax increase for the residents? Will that region outgrow the regional district governance model?

Water is a big issue. Currently, thousands of RDN residents are being supplied by a private system owned through a company called Epcor run by the City of Edmonton.

New Community Plan for Area H

People living in Qualicum Bay, Bowser, Deep Bay, Dunsmuir, Horne Lake and Spider Lake are getting a new Official Community Plan. What does this mean? The OCP is the road map for how the communities will grow and connect.

Some changes that have already taken place are the expansion of Deep Bay Harbour,  allowance for secondary suites, and introduction of building inspection.

Homelessness a serious problem

According to the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD), estimates of people in the Valley who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless range from several hundred to more than 2,000.

Nanaimo, Parksville and Qualicum Beach are also facing serious issues with homelessness.

No live streaming of RDN Board meetings

Unfortunately, there is still no live streaming of the RDN board meetings. Every small community is providing this public service. Why not the RDN? If you would like to see the RDN live stream their board meetings let them know. It is good to know where and how your tax dollars are being spent.

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

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.

School Closures in School District 69

Four schools could be closed by the end of the 2014 school year in School District 69. They are:

Qualicum Beach Elementary
Parksville Elementary
Winchelsea Elementary in Parksville
French Creek Elementary in Coombs

SD69 current enrolment in the district is 3,960; capacity is 5,900. The school board is faced with finding $2.4 million savings over the next three years to meet its budget.

Over the next two months there will be consultation meetings with parents, staff and various stakeholder groups.

On Tuesday, January 28, 2014, the Board of Education of School District 69 (Qualicum) approved the following motion:

THAT the Board of Education of School District 69 (Qualicum) has fully considered the report “Facility Use and Resource Alignment” and intends to pass a motion to act on the recommendations contained therein no earlier than April 29, 2014. That such motion will result in the closure, consolidation and/or reconfiguration of schools in the district’; and further,

THAT Board of Education of School District 69 (Qualicum) direct the Superintendent to conduct a comprehensive public consultation process of no less than ninety (90) days in accordance with the School Act and Ministerial Order 194/08 and Board Policy 3040: School Closure, Consolidation or Reconfiguration.

The next stage of the process is a 90-day consultation period on the recommendation in the report to reconfigure the District as a K-7, 8-12 model, which could result in the closure of schools. During the consultation period the recommendation can be refined or amended to reflect additional information and input from the public. The Board encourages participation by all individuals so that they can make the best possible final decision by April 30, 2014. Comments can be emailed to the school board at facilities2014@sd69.bc.ca.

Initial meetings have been scheduled as follows:

  • Springwood Middle School -MPR Parksville (Wednesday, February 12th at 7:00 pm)
  • School District 69 Office – 1365 Springhill Road in Parksville (Wednesday, February 19th at 12:30 pm)
  • Kwalikum Secondary – MPR (Wednesday, February 19th at 3:45 pm)
  • Qualicum Beach Middle School – MPR (Monday, February 24th at 7:00 pm)
  • Oceanside Middle School Library (Thursday, March 13th at 7:00 pm)
  • Springwood Middle School -MPR (Monday, April 7th at 3:45 pm)
  • Springwood Middle School -MPR (Wednesday, April 16th at 7:00 pm)
  • Special Board Meeting – Approval of Facilities Option and the 2014-15 Preliminary Budget (Tuesday, April 29th at  7:00 pm  Forum PCTC)

Horne Lake Connector – roads to resources

There is a possibility that another highway on Vancouver Island will be built:  the Horne Lake Connector. In June 2013, a report by Apex Engineering was completed to assess possible new highway connector routes to Port Alberni which would enable the Port to export resources such as coal. The proposed 20+ km 2-lane Horne Lake Connector would be located between Highway 4 near Port Alberni and Highway 19 north of Parksville.

Horne Lake Connector
Horne Lake Connector

Three route options were originally presented for the proposed Horne Lake Connector. All options would end up linking back to Highway 19 at the Horne Lake Intersection. The following are two possiblities:

Haggard Route – Starts at the Horne Lake intersection on Highway 19 and includes upgrading an existing secondary road between Highway 19 and Horne Lake and then following a new alignment south of Horne Lake across the Alberni Summit climbing to 514m before linking back to Highway 4 near Port Alberni. The proposed link is an 80 km/hr design, 20.2 km long and generally follows existing forest service roads.

Lacey Lake Route – Follows the same secondary route to Horne Lake and then diverges to the north of the lake along an existing forest service road, then turns south climbing to 400m before descending to Highway 4 at Port Alberni – 80 km/hr design, length 27.3 km

Haggard/Lacey Hybrid – Follows the Haggard route south of Horne Lake then diverges to the west linking to the Lacey Lake Route – 80 km/hr design, length 25.1 km.

Horne Lake Connector Routes
Horne Lake Connector Routes – Lacey Lake Route in Green

It appears that the Lacey Lake Route is the favoured route option.  This would link the proposed potential Raven Coal Mine (or others) north of Horne Lake to the deep water port of Port Alberni. For example, the new Horne Lake Connector would make it possible to have 150 truck trips a day or 75 round trips to deliver the coal to ships waiting in Port Alberni.

At a time when most countries are facing economic austerity, why is it that taxpayers must fund roads to resources such as this project which could end up costing up to $100 million for a 25 kilometre stretch of highway? Why not consider reactivating the Alberni rail line?

The answer possibly lies in the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Plan— a $4.3 billion bundle of money earmarked by the federal government.  The Asia Pacific Gateway Initiative is rolling out our resources to countries in the far east just as long as we pay for all the infrastructure. Is this the best we can do for the next generation?

Does anyone remember back in the 1950’s when pulp mills were everywhere in BC?  Now how many are there?

Political Aristocracy of Nanaimo

2013 marks the closing chapter for a member of Nanaimo’s political aristocracy. Ron Cantelon MLA for Parksville-Qualicum, has given up his seat just before the next BC provincial general election which is scheduled for Tuesday, May 14, 2013.

Prior to Mr. Cantelon’s service as MLA for Parksville-Qualicum from 2005 -2013, he was a Nanaimo councillor from 1999-2005. Before that Cantelon was a real estate broker, receiving a manager-of-the-year award for ReMax Western Canada in 1999.

A Nanaimo citizen raised a conflict of interest concern at the November 29, 2004 council meeting. Mr. Cantelon’s activities included: renewing his real estate licence on November 24, 2004 which would have required prior planning.  Then it came to light that Mr. Cantelon had incorporated a new company on November 10, 2004 called VIcondos. Would this be to profit from the proposed new project? As we know the conference centre has become a white elephant but who knows, maybe the hotel or a condo project will appear in the near future.

In 2004, Councillor Cantelon was the chair of the Nanaimo Conference Centre Advisory Committee and promoted the conference centre and hotel plans. Promotion of the downtown conference centre involved Mr. Cantelon becoming the chair of the Downtown Nanaimo Partnership (DNP) which was also funded by the City of Nanaimo.

The DNP was formed in 2001 by combining the Old City Quarter Association and the Nanaimo City Centre Association.

In 2003, the City of Nanaimo took over these associations and created a BIA (Business improvement Area) and then started taxing all the property owners. The City of Nanaimo controlled the financial direction of the partnership. It is no surprise that the managing director became another taxpayer sponsored cheerleader for the conference centre project.

In 2009, Premier Gordon Campbell appointed Nanaimo-Parksville MLA Ron Cantelon as the province’s new minister of agriculture and lands . Cantelon established himself as a passionate defender of coastal salmon farming, which was part of his ministerial duties.

Why only one candidate for Nanaimo/Parksville/Quailcum?
Michelle Stilwell was declared the new BC Liberal MLA candidate, succeeding Ron Cantelon by acclamation on January 8, 2013.

On the BC Liberal website it states that there was only one candidate who submitted an application by the deadline established under the BC Liberal Party Constitution.

It is interesting to note that the BC Liberals have held other riding contests around the province with at least four to five candidates. This riding is a shoe-in for any conservative to win. Why did Mr. Cantelon wait until the deadline to submit his resignation? Could it be that the new candidate is an officially anointed heir?

Upgrades to Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park

One of the perks on the mid island is Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park in Parksville.

The campsites at Rathtrevor are getting additional layers of gravel and new concrete pads, as well as replacement picnic tables. Also, a playground is getting upgraded.

Rathtrevor Park
Upgrades at Rathtrevor Prov. Park – playground, picnic tables – beware of the massive pot holes in the parking lot you could lose a wheel.

The total cost for the upgrades is $2.5 million. A contract worth $900,000 was awarded to Rogers Trucking dba JB Contracting based in Lantzville.

The original picnic tables were made from solid old growth wood. Lack of basic maintenance had reportedly led to rot starting on the inside of the picnic tables.

The new picnic tables will be built by Nanaimo based MacKay Precast Products.

Construction workers are scheduled to be operating in the park until March 1, 2013.

The current camping fee is $30 per night.

Backround: Rathtrevor takes its name from Rath, an Irish family who homesteaded on the land. William Rath was a gold prospector who arrived in 1886 with his wife and baby daughter. They cleared the land in 1895 and built a cabin and barn. William Rath died in 1903 leaving behind Elizabeth and five children. Elizabeth ran a farm on the land and eventually operated a campground. Rathtrevor Campground became Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park in 1967.

Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park, south of Nanaimo, has once again been passed over. A provincial election is looming this year; consequently it’s time to spend money in the most rewarding political riding.

picnic table
Original picnic tables from 1967 that have been removed.