Nanaimo: BC’s First Municipal Conglomerate?
Ron Bolin: June 1, 2011
In what is apparently one of the hottest new moves toward privatizing the public’s business, Nanaimo’s City Council on Monday approved the Articles of Incorporation of Nanaimo’s new Economic Development Corporation.
During the question period at that meeting, as the subject had not come up in Council’s discussion, I asked whether citizens would, barring in-camera sessions, be welcome at the meetings of the Corporation which they are funding. I was informed that this would be the case. Today I received an email from the City informing me that that response was in error and that citizen attendance at the meetings of the corporation, the operations of which they are funding and to which they will be providing up to $5 million in loan guarantees, will be at the discretion of the officers of the new corporation. Whether the dates and times of these meetings will even be made public remains unknown.
Thus will the public’s money be transacted in darkness and we who pay the bills will be left with the incestuous relationship between Staff and Council (the Municipal Corporation) and its creature (the Economic Development Corporation), to depend on the kindness of civic strangers.
Add to this the turnover of the booking of Diana Krall Plaza and our $250,000 screen to the DNBA and we are on the forefront of the movement to reduce the public in the public service. Having found that our Economic Development is best handled by a corporation, what is holding us back from corporatizing our other civic functions? What about an Engineering Corporation?; a Water Corporation?; a Planning Corporation?; a Parks and Recreation Corporation?; a Finance Corporation?; a Human Resource Corporation? Nanaimo could become BC’s first Municipal Conglomerate. Why not?
Where is our Core Review?
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” anon
Ron, I share your concerns completely. I was alarmed when I saw this on the agenda. Do you know how it got on the city’s agenda or who put it there?…db
Nanaimo’s new Economic Development Corporation. THE MUNICIPAL CONGLOMERATE APPROVED.
Okay! Ron, Diane you’ve shown your indignation . . .
Now . . . what are you going to do about it?
Well, Roger, the first thing I am going to do is to ask you for your opinion about what can be done.
So give me your wisdom.
Take Jim’s advice . . .
Start looking for a lawyer who wants to make a name for herself!
Invite subscriptions: I’ll put out the first C$100 . . .
And start harassing those guys at city hall who thinq they can get away with whatever they please . . .
You and your FPN pals are the organisational geniuses . . .
Go to it!
This is a question I posed to the Mayor and City Manger via email, I am still waiting for a response.
The city of Nanaimo is a corporation, of whom we are the shareholders. Does it not follow, that the shareholders should be able to consult with the legal counsel hired by our corporation, to inquire about legal recourse against a corporate board and operating officers, not operating in the best interest of the shareholders …….
Could it be long before the Conference Centre is the subject of a P3 agreement?
Stranger things have happened.
As with Governments , be them Federal,Provincial or Municipal they would seem to have little qualms over the use of taxpayers monies to subsidise “free enterprise”.
I think we have reached a breaking point.
Whilst the news drolls over the happenings of the mid East they don’t report on the misdeeds we have; so much for the ‘Liberal” media.
Love to see the answer if you get it Jim. As citizens, and shareholders, we should be entitled to attend any committee or “commision” meeting that is a part of our corporation.
If anybody took the time to look at other Canadian cityies you would find out what Nanaimo has done happens all across Canada. I would think that you would welcome a move that could possibly help this community with jobs, more tourism, etc.
Your idea that as shareholder we have the right to sit in on meetings does not pass mustard. When you have shares in any corporation, you are only allowed to attend one meetng a year, it is called the ‘General Meeting’. This city needs someone that will not be burdened by the ‘way things were done inthe past’ and can look to the future to new ways of doing things. This city has low pay and high housing costs, what is wrong with this picture.
I can only hope that this city will hire someone that hasthe strength and smarts to get his city going.
I have only lived about 1 1/2 years and think it has loads of potential but is not allowed to grow. I wish this new corporation all the best.
Lynn: I think we all agree that Nanaimo has loads of potential. Perhaps as a relative newcomer you might write about it and why you think that it is unrealized.
As for your analogy with a corporation and its ability to close its meetings, I would make the following observations concerning shares in a real corporation vs those in the EDC:
1. I had a choice whether or not to buy my shares in a real corporation;
2. At any general meeting I can lead a charge to change the management of a real corporation;
3. I can sell my shares in a real corporation at any time. In this situation, the only way to sell my shares is to get our of town.
4. In a real corporation I am not forced to keep repurchasing the shares each year.
As a corporation, what we have is a mockery. I have suggested to no avail that we need our local entrepreneurs to act like capitalists, take the bull by the horns and organize the funding (and thus the control) of the corporation. With a good business plan they could sell real shares to those like you and I who may believe that Nanaimo has a lot of undeveloped potential and also seek grants and contracts. As now established, the EDC maintains the same political masters who have always been in charge, only now they are behind a veil.
Ron, I don’t disgree with your observations with a real corporation but the city is looking for citizens to sit on the oversight board. This board will have the 3 elected members from the city and then the citizens. Wevot vote in our mayor and councillors, so this is where we can change the boardsome of the board.
I would suggest that if your concern is this great that you put you name in for the Progress Board. This board participation will allow you to watch over what is going on with the new corporation
Lynn: I have previously been down that path, having served on a city committee and, I think, serving well. However, as I was involved in an organization which thought that the conference centre was not a well planned business decision, my application to serve another term was rejected. The city’s committees and commissions are not free of political interference, and neither will be the EDC.
Believe me I am well aware that committees and commissions are never free of political interference. I was not here for what happened with the conference centre but it is certainly up to the city to make sure it is well used, if that is a possible issue.
Since being here I found that Nanaimo has a lot of work to do to built this city up. It has some very odd bylaws for both the individual and citizens which I think can hamper what happens in this city. I call this community closed, and perhaps not to open for new ways of doing this that do not 100% fringe on the envirnoment. For example I just attend a Hort Society meeting where the speaker, who is an employee of the city said he wants and is working towards a bylaw that will not allow a homeowner to cut a tree down in their own yard without approval by the city. This is untterly stupid. All for the envirnoment! Anyway I am not going down this road here, but this is an example of what can drive people away. No control over their own personal envirnment.
If you are new here it is impossible to find a job unless you know someone, the wages are low and the housing costs are high. I can only hope that the EDC has an excellent person running the corporation and she/he has a group of people to back them up.