Tag Archives: parksville

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.

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

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.

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.

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?