A Complaint to Victoria regarding the Alternative Approval Process

Ron Bolin: July 28, 2011

Notice of Complaint

On July 13, 2011, Nanaimo City Council approved the use of an Alternative Approval Process instead of a referendum in the matter of “Emergency Water Connection Bylaw 2011 No. 7131” which would provide for a connection between the city’s treated water supply and the untreated water supply of the local Nanaimo Forest Products plant (Harmac).

I find it egregious that the City can use the AAP in a case where a general election is coming shortly and would bring virtually no extra cost to the city, while at the same time loading a very laborious and expensive process onto citizens.  It is doubly egregious that the notice for the AAP which was published in the newspaper on July 21 and again today, on July 28, does not, in my opinion, carry the information required by Section 86 of the BC Community Charter, namely:

(2) Notice of an alternative approval process must be published in accordance with section 94 [public notice] and must include the following:

(a) a general description of the proposed bylaw, agreement or other matter to which the approval process relates;

(b) a description of the area to which the approval process applies;

The Notice published can be seen on the City’s web site:

http://www.nanaimo.ca/assets/Departments/Legislative~Services/Municipal~Elections/2011EWCAAP/SStatutoryAAPPublicNoticeEmergencyWaterAA.pdf

Can it be possible that a Notice to Electors of the proposed bylaw and the AAP process can be considered compliant with the legislation even if it does not notify citizens of either:

a)      the capital and operating expenses entailed by the project ($4.25 million dollars plus approximately $10,000 per annum in operating expenses if an emergency never takes place); or

b)      the extension of the city’s treated water supply beyond its current location to a point further into the city’s periphery (approximately 1 km).

As the AAP process regarding which I raise this question is currently in process and the citizens of Nanaimo are being asked to abide by a negative option process which would be illegal in most commercial transactions, I find that it is particularly galling that the city does not feel the need to make the most basic information available in its notice of the process to the public.

On July 22, 2011, the following email was sent to Joan Harrison, Manager of Legislative Services for the City of Nanaimo:

Good afternoon Joan:

In examining the Notice to Electors regarding this project in the Daily News today, I notice that there is no clear identification of the capital and operating costs which will be entailed by this project, or of the location of the pieces needed to make it work.

Isn’t this presenting the public with a pig in a poke?  By what authority are these vital elements of any decision neglected in this notice to Electors?

Thanks,

Ron Bolin

To this date I have not received a responding email.  Today, before registering this complaint, I called Ms. Harrison to determine the city’s situation in this regard.  I was told that it had been OK’d by the City’s legal advisors.

I look forward to your consideration of this matter at your earliest convenience given the essence of time in this matter.

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