A surfeit of Vision
Ron Bolin: Oct. 4, 2011
On October 5, Nanaimo finds itself caught in the battle of the Visions (or hopefully it will be the confluence of Visions) as the Community Vision Rally competes for our time with the Vision for Regional Growth presented by the Nanaimo Regional District. It is greatly to be hoped that participants in both events will share the Visions which come out of these meetings.
On a personal note, I find it hopeful for our future that an independent group of local business and professional organizations is sponsoring one of these events. Those who remember the Vision of the Conference Centre and its role in community development may remember several well-known speakers on the topic which were sponsored by another independent group of citizens, FPN, the Friends of Plan Nanimo. For a city to have Vision, its citizens must have Vision. Vision is too important to leave to a Council and some civil servants. Please plan on attending one of these events and then keeping track of them both. To accomplish our goals we will need a shared Vision, something all too often missing in Nanaimo.
This blog will look forward to comments on these events from those who have taken part in them.
Vancouver Island Conference Centre: Wednesday, October 5th 6:00 pm
Do you have a ‘vision’ of what you want Nanaimo to become in the future?
Nanaimo’s Community Vision Rally on Wed. October 5th at the VICC asks you to put your imagination to work. Attend and learn how the entire community can bring imagination, vision and hard work together to create reality from dreams.
Find out how Whistler, BC took a hard look at their post-Olympics future and decided – between businesses, city hall and the community at large – what Whistler would become ‘after’ achieving status as one of the top luxury ski resorts in North America. Mayor Ken Melamed discusses how they focused on growth and sustainability and developed their “2020 Plan”.
Then, hear one of the world’s foremost experts speak on the success and sustainability of cities today and how many are grappling with their future plans. Learn how community service, leadership and vision come together to build the communities of tomorrow from our keynote speaker for the evening: MIKE HARCOURT. Former Premier of BC from 1991-96, twice Mayor of Vancouver, and multi-term City Councillor, Mr. Harcourt is an icon of community service and leadership.
The Community Vision Rally is sponsored by a non-partisan group of local business and professional associations. There is no coincidence that it takes place a month before civic elections although no candidates are being promoted or given a forum. By emphasizing that ‘vision’ in leadership is an important key to the future you want for Nanaimo, we hope the choice of candidates will be clearer during the coming campaign and turnout at the polls stronger than ever. Remind those that want to lead us how important vision is and help them make Nanaimo a place where the world wants to be.
The rally will take place at The Vancouver Island Conference Centre from 6:00pm to approx. 9:30pm
Tickets: $12.50 (plus $1 order fee)
Available through the Port Theatre Ticket Centre
And also on that date:
Regional District of Nanaimo Regional Growth Strategy Bylaw No. 1615, 2011
Beban Park Lounge, 2300 Bowen Road
Wednesday, October 5, at 7pm
The proposed Regional Growth Strategy Bylaw No. 1615 will establish a regional vision for sustainable growth and represent a commitment made by the RDN and the affected municipalities of the City of Nanaimo, City of Parksville, Town of Qualicum Beach and the District of Lantzville to a course of action involving shared social, economic and environmental goals.
The RGS aims to establish a more sustainable pattern of development in the region over a twenty-five year period by encouraging and directing most new development in the region within designated Growth Containment Boundaries, thereby keeping urban settlement compact, protecting the integrity of rural and resource areas, protecting the environment, increasing servicing efficiency and retaining mobility within the region. Bylaw No. 1615 builds upon the current RGS emphasis on growth management to include a broader range of sustainability goals that address climate change, economic development, food security, and affordable housing.
The Regional Growth Strategy Public Hearing this evening was, unfortunately, about as close to a non-event as is possible. There were some 10 representatives of the RDN in attendance, none from the City of Nanaimo even though seven members of our Council sit on the Board of the Regional District and receive about $11,000 per annum with 1/3 tax free for that position.
There were perhaps a dozen citizens at the meeting with two official presentations, both from environmental groups interested in water and a single last minute entry who pointed out a significant study done on water distribution in the RDN done by Associated Engineering some 30 years ago and inquiring whether the information in the study was used in the preparation of this latest Regional Growth Strategy. Apparently it was not. Associated Engineering is currently involved in the development of our new $65 million water treatment plant for which we recently “voted” for a $22 million loan.
It is time that Nanaimo take more interest in the Regional District. We ignore it at our peril -and we do pay for attention to it.
On the other hand the “Envision Rally” was a pretty big event. I think every council member was there. All the candidates that I know are running for office where there. Some city staff where there. Lots of people that I know from my other activities where there. Yea, it was a pretty big deal.
I was pleasantly surprised by the emphasis placed on “sustainability” as the core of a community vision. Lately, when I use the word, I find people’s eyes glaze over, or just roll up into their head. I really was under the impression that nobody is interested in sustainability anymore. After last night, I have to conclude that people are interested in sustainability; they’re just not interested in listening to me.
Another message that I think was inadvertently conveyed by the speakers was that our political leaders where not that effective. Not so much this council, but the previous council made some very poor decisions with regard to a progress towards sustainability, and those decisions where thrown into relief when compared to some of the more progressive moves made by Whistler and Vancouver.
Also, Hartcourt and Ms Andrea Rosato-Taylor directly spoke to the habit of our citizens to say, “NO,” to everything. It reminded me of my many frustrating confrontations with my fellow citizens. While, ‘no,’ is an appropriate response sometimes, if used too often it causes us to miss opportunities. This rally was a very honest and sincere effort to challenge that weakness in ourselves. That is one effort I will whole heartedly support.
On the whole, last night was a good effort organized by a sincere group who really want our city to progress. I will be interested to see what grows from this. And, I think, whatever grows from this, I would be inclined to nurture.
Dan: I wonder if you would mind putting some flesh on your observation about the too-frequent use of “no” in Nanaimo. What opportunities have we missed out on? What opportunities have we pursued to our sorrow?
Rejecting a foot passenger ferry service to Vancouver is clearly a case of an easy NO overriding common sense approach to economic opportunity. This was an idea the Daily News took the trouble to reject.
The Newcastle/Brechin Neighbourhood Plan was in many respects the result of saying NO way too much. Truthfully, it didn’t help that the Brechin Hill group was surrounded by incompetent cheese chasing city planners, egomaniacal schemers along the waterfront, and morons from Newcastle. Still, the only parts of that ignorant plan the Brechin Hill group championed where the bits least likely to do anything for anybody.
This might sound odd coming from me, but I think a case can be made for the NO side of the argument against the conference centre, and the subsequent polarization of the entire city contributed to a whole series of really bad choices. Had FPN offered a real alternative to the plan instead of a resounding NO and a very poor alternative, then the proponents might have been swayed towards making some intelligent changes. Maybe I’m being foolish to think that the proponents had any intelligence to sway, but I remember advocating alternatives to the conference centre that just got ignored by everyone. Perhaps a lot more could have been done if more effort was put into bending the plans instead of rejecting them.
I could go on and on. My favourite example is a personal one. I was in the middle of pitching an idea to a co-worker. Before I finished my sentence she said, “NO.” “But you haven’t heard my idea,” I said. She sighed, “OK, tell me your idea, then I’ll say NO.”
After that I dubbed this place, NOnaimo.
Dan: Have you taken a look at the document which came out of Whistler’s Vision exercise? Could you provide a quick take on its substance/
Dan: I am glad that you thought the Rally was worthwhile. And that it may have brought some momentum to a ship that is dead in the water. But I’m afraid that you are a little too ready to join those who throw stones at the NO-sayers. While it is to be hoped that the next steps on behalf of citizens can lead to strategy for development which represents both the community and reason, it must be said that recent efforts have fallen flat on both counts. The conference centre, the water treatment plant and the new City Hall Annex come up to about $200 million dollars in public expenditures about which the public either had no say (the latter two projects) or were presented with a very risky and ultimately disingenuous plan. Rather than seriously discussing the matter, citizens were presented with a fait accompli with a developer and a demand to say YES. Can you give an example where we have said no to a well thought out and community accepted project?
If I have correctly interpreted the mood of the Rally it is that such practices be ended and that a thorough community assessment be made on an equal playing field. This would include some assessment of the foot ferry. We had several years of such service. Is there any evidence to show the magnitude of subsidy which would be required to bring it back? And more importantly any evidence from that previous experience which would show that the externalities of the service generated enough income to justify any subsidy: or do we simply, as we did with the conference centre, assert such benefits on a wing and a prayer in the absence –or even in the face- of any evidence.
I would also point out that FPN did, in fact, propose an alternative which can be seen in the book which they published a few years ago: Nanaimo between Past and Future, which is available at the Public Library.
As for the rally, Roger was correct in interpreting my view; it was, “strong on enthusiasm, light on substance.” However, I don’t think it would have been fair to expect more. And it could have been a lot worse.
In capital poor situations, planning is a well placed push from the right place in the right direction. Was this rally a push from the right place and the right direction? Probably not; but it didn’t miss by much.
I think I’m accurate in my assessment of the relationship between schemers, NIMBY’s and city hall cheese chasers. The rapport between these three, very much diminished, groups is a shallow pond of toxicity. It is going to take many years and much effort to correct this unhealthy situation.
As for the foot ferry; if it was asserted in any other community, that this was the most efficient way to connect to Vancouver, the response would be infinitely more positive.
As for the negativity observed by two of the speakers the other night, all I really want to say is that I’m sympathetic.
About the proposed alternative to the conference centre; I was sitting in the library looking at the hole that was dug for the conference centre when the FPN alternative was announced. From my point of view, it didn’t look like an alternative at all. And it still doesn’t. If you think that urban planning is a ‘wish list’ dressed up with a couple of renderings, then you are making the same mistakes made by those who planned the conference centre.
Ummmmm, interesting Daniel . . .
That’s not how CBC Good Morning reported it!
I also attended the rally and while there was an interested and sincere crowd there was very little, if any, substance that could be taken and applied to Nanaimo which we have not already considered and even incorporated into our official plans and strategies for the future.
One principle which Mr. Harcourt threw out was the NATO effect, which is No Action Talk Only…… which I think you could apply in spades to Nanaimo.
I agree with Dan, that I look forward to what might grow from last nights rally, but if anyone is looking for some grand scheme which addresses Nanaimo’s staggering unemployment, they didn’t find it there. It could be simply because NO ONE has any real idea how to deal with it anyway. Yes, we may say things like attract green jobs, that will solve the problem…. will it? Are Nanaimo’s unemployed highly trained in the field of green jobs just waiting for a green jobs plant to open???
Another point made by Whislter’s Mayor is that every community likes the ‘Tourist’ dollar, but that is a market that isn’t what it used to be. He also made the claim that Whistler had put a moratorium on development claiming that while cities are addicted to development it only pays for about 70% of the costs it brings to a community.
I look forward to the leaders that will be inspired by last night’s rally to step forward and champion the cause for their community………….. full of wisdom and vision………
It is time that Nanaimo take more interest in the Regional District. We ignore it at our peril -and we do pay for attention to it…………….
And so it is with us in the RDN who look to those seven unelected representitives who dictate the direction that we wil take.
Sadly I missed this meeting ; I am especially interested in water issues.
Water is the big issue of the future.
If you want to follow up on the water related issues which came forward at the meeting, you need only follow both NALT’s recent Nanaimo River conference on the one hand and MISSI on the other. These were the two organizations which put forward comments, even though they never did say whether they were for or against the adoption of the Regional Growth Strategy Bylaw. In fact no one spoke directly to the bylaw. I did recommend adoption in a written submission along with a plea for more monitoring and more public transparency.
“On the other hand the “Envision Rally” was a pretty big event.
You were pleasantly surprised by the emphasis placed on “sustainability” as the core of a community vision.”.
Your take on the rally is strong on enthusiasm, light on substance, Daniel.
May I, in the interests of good planning and for your edification correct some of your dearly held misconceptions. You are a good man but on planning you are . . . errrrr . . . unbecomingly facile.
Newton’s second law of thermodynamics Entropy states, “nothing is sustainable”.
Sustainability is a misplaced shibboleth promoted by the likes of Al Gore who gives not a shit about you, your future, AGW, HCGW or whatever altar you chose to worship.
Here is one of Al Gore’s numerous luxurious hideaways (this one @ US$9m) . . .
. . . paid for by you, and your like, dutifully supporting his carbon credits.
Notice all the luxurious wasteful fraud: huge lot, swimming pool, multi heat escaping surfaces . . . no wind capture, no solar panels, indeed, nothing to show this mountebank practices what he preaches: and this is only one of his do-daddies.
You have stated “efficiency” as your criteria for planning. Ummmm, that doesn’t do it for me, (nor Al evidently). As planning criteria “efficiency” is one dimensional subject to misinterpretation: simplistic.
Are you at dis-connect, Daniel? You need catch-up big time before you do any more sounding off authoritatively on this blog!
Sustainable is one of those catchy buzz words that means different things to different folk, one dictionary definition is:
a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged
So what exactly do our leaders mean when they say something is ‘sustainable’? I have heard our city manager say that the currently budgeted tax increase of 21% over the next 5 years is ‘sustainable’…….. I have never heard anyone press him for a study to support that claim or what HE means by sustainable. An increase of even 1% is not sustainable for the single mom needing the school lunch program to feed her kid.
Does the city manager mean it is a way of harvesting taxes from the local residents so that our resources are not depleted or permanently damaged?
One could likely argue that the lifestyle and creature comforts our generation has lavished upon ourselves, never was sustainable as could be proven by the fact it has all been financed with future generations wealth. It has not even been sustainable within our own generation.
So what politicians, planners and other gurus mean when they say something is sustainable is not always very clear. How to accomplish this state of utopia is not likely truly helped by some new scheme to trade carbon credits……. just another scheme to move wealth from one strata of society to another….
I would be far more comfortable hearing ‘leader wannabes’ explaining how the economy of Nanaimo is going to be improved, rather than yet another great ‘sounding’ plan supported by yet another great ‘sounding’ study which has at it’s core ‘sustainability’.
Let me see now. I believe I am the only professional on this blog with the experience to speak authoritatively on sustainability and the, so called, green nonsense.
Actually the “sustainability ruse started on the west coast, in the early ‘80’s, with the leaky condo: that, BTW, has not abated.
Until oriented-strand-board was approved by the provincial building code sheathing grade plywood was used extensively as a sub for ship-lap: a reasonable substitute given the never ending lumber dispute with the US and that the forests were being logged out at a fast.
Industry conflict of interests occupied seats on building code committees hence the real cause of the crisis was possible to determine but difficult to arrest.
I see from my window loads of poles (the scraggly remains of what used to be huge western timbers) being shipped off to China: hence the downtown protesting marchers last week (that, apparently, our on-blog gossips did not notice).
Such is the condition of the building industry now that green, sustainable, LEED platinum/gold/silver (privately assessed by a, for profit, company) are very expensive appellations, expressing empty corporate, marketing bullshit fraud abetted by city hall.
Google OWS. See how our young southern neighbours: wont take it any more.
Envisioning Rally: government and corporate bullshit. And us? Too wimpy to call ‘em!
Sustainable; Green; both overused words that have lost all meaning .
Words pirated by the Corporate & media for less than altruistic uses.
FWIW, i have been in three sawmills this week.
All are working single shift.
All are closed at the drop of a hat for lack of logs!
At one mill the owner has the cheek to be building a log sort to enable the export of 60 loads of logs per day whilst the millworkers look on wondering how much longer their jobs will last.
I say again; the future of Nanaimo will not be made here.
The big decisions area made elsewhere.
Are you saying there is a demand for lumber that our mills are not able to supply because they can not get the logs???
The forest companes would rather export logs than run mills.
Many mills are being systematically run down.
To be clear, are you saying that our mills are deliberately not supplying the demand for milled timber because the owners of the logs will NOT supply them with sufficient raw product?
One explanation I have been given regards our milled lumber and the Asian market, is that they do not use the same dimensions as we do and therefore we could not supply them anyway.
If our mills can compete for the same market as the exported logs (as finished product) are being sold into, what political remedy do you see for the problem.
Ron Bolin – 5 October 2011 at 10pm – said:
“There were some 10 representatives of the RDN in attendance, none from the City of Nanaimo even though seven members of our Council sit on the Board of the Regional District and receive about $11,000 per annum with 1/3 tax free for that position.”
How unfortunate that there was a scheduling conflict in that the Regional Growth Strategy Public Hearing and the Vision Rally were held on the same evening! I trust that the 10 RDN reps at the Public Hearing were understanding?!!
The RDN folks made no comment on the attendance, but having worked for a couple of years on a Growth Strategy that encompasses the region and the City, one can imagine either that they were either sorely disappointed albeit silent, or that they were elated that everyone was so attuned to it that no further comment was required.
The critical factor will be to see how it is used in development strategies. Better, one hopes, than the Urban Containment Boundary which was promoted by the RDN and then promptly abandoned by the City in favour of the likes of Cable Bay/Oceanview.