Another “Vote to get a Vote” referendum – water flowing underground

Ron Bolin: July 11, 2011

At its meeting of July 11, 2011, Council backed yet another “Vote to get a Vote” referendum, otherwise known as the “Alternatative Approval Process”, dealing with water.  The negative option elector response which will require 6268 signed forms to require a real vote states that:

“I am OPPOSED to the adoption of “EMERGENCY WATER CONNECTION AGREEMENT BYLAW 2011 NO. 7131” which authorizes the Emergency Water Connection Agreement between the City of Nanaimo and Nanaimo Forest Products, without first obtaining the assent of the electors in a voting proceeding (referendum).”

Neither in this description nor in the report that was presented to the public in the agenda, was there any discussion of the costs and benefits of this agreement.  While a question from Councillor Pattje elicited the information that at least $4.5 million dollars was involved in capital costs to the city, there was no follow-up on other indicated capital costs or on any annual operating costs.  One can guess that these will not be inconsequential.   The matter of the relation of this project to the water needs of the massive development projects in the area of Harmac was avoided.  This report should have been sent back for lack of a proper financial and development plan.  It was not.

As was the case with the $65 million water treatment facility, there is no urgency involved and both could just as well have been put onto the ballot in the November Council election at virtually no cost.  Once again, the onus has been placed on citizens to defend themselves if they so wish as Council will not stand for them.  While it has been made impossible to tell whether these projects are required or have options, financially sound or fiscally irresponsible, what is clear is that Council is acting on the theory that citizens and taxpayers are ignorant and deserve to be kept so.