The Other City Council Meeting
Ron Bolin: Feb. 3, 2012
Disguised as an innocuous committee meeting, the Finance and Policy Committee of the Whole (FPCOW) will meet on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012, in the Board Room at City Hall at 4:30 pm, as it does on most Mondays alternating with regular Council meetings. This committee is made up of all members of Council and it differs from what is otherwise known as a Council meeting in two distinct areas: first, no bylaws can be passed in a FPCOW meeting; second it is held in a small board room at City Hall, it is held at a time inconvenient to working citizens and there are no intruding cameras to record the proceedings. What can be done at these meetings is approving spending and the notification of Council regarding upcoming project expenditures that may exceed the $250,000 limit set for Staff to manage in accordance with the budget without explicit Council approval.
For example, on Monday Council is asked:
- to approve $30,182 in 2012 Arts, Cultural and Festival Grants;
- to approve $175,988 in 2012 Cultural Operating Grants;
- to provide in principle up to $300,000 toward a $1.8 million project to replace 4 existing barns on the VIEX grounds with a new consolidated barn structure;
- to approve the transfer of $74,500 of the Port Theatre Society’s capital reserve to their 2011 operating deficit;
- to receive the externally completed review of the City’s contracted services which totaled $31.7 million dollars in 2010. To read this report see: http://www.nanaimo.ca/assets/Whats~New/PDFs/ContractedServicesReview2012.pdf
- Notice of issuance of a tender tor traffic signage services for a period of one year with the option to extend the contract for three more years. This contract was worth $364,000 in 2011;
- Notice that a tender seeking a general contractor for the construction of the Rotary Park Tourist Information Kiosk, Sani-Dump stations and Dog off Leash Park is to be issued and is expected to exceed $250,000;
- Receive a report discussing the City’s grant to the Vancouver Island Symphony which recommends an increase in grant funding of $26, 760;
- Receive a report regarding the issuance of public tender calls for Materials Supply for the Water Treatment Plant and Number one Reservoir which are estimated to be in excess of $3 million dollars;
- Receive a report regarding Contractor Pre-qualification for construction contracts regarding the Water Treatment Plant and Number One Reservoir;
- A presentation regarding a project at 5300 Rutherford Road and a Delegation regarding the same property a review of the environmental monitoring of that same project.
The Agenda for this meeting with considerably more information is available at: http://www.nanaimo.ca/UploadedFilesPath/Site_Structure/Corporate_Services/Corporate_Administration/2012_Committee_Agendas/FPCOW120206A.pdf
You may agree with me that this Other Council Meeting deserves to come out of the dark and further into our attention.
Yes but that would require openness and transparency, something I believe everyone talked about during the election but a reticent to act upon. A perfect example of this being when I asked council if they would be willing to not go ‘In Camera’ for those items under sec 90(1) of the Community Charter that says they have a choice and ‘may’ go In Camera. Councillor Brennan spouted off about how the term ‘may’ actually doesn’t mean may.
I thought we voted for “transparency ” with a new council. I voted in every election for the last 60 years and getting very frustrated. Like the saying goes: Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice…………… Looks like it is time to throw in the towel on this voting business. Maybe the young people are smart. Does voting really matter?
With do respect to other commentators I think that the word “transparency” should be banned from this blog. It is the most exploited, grossly overused word of our times. It is the “sustainability” of 2012. An example. One of the many city managers recently described the web-cam at the annex construction site as part of the city’s commitment to transparency. One of the commentators on the Daily News article pointed out the ironic idiocy of this and I totally agree. This was a project developed behind closed doors – that you can see it get built via a web-cam (as opposed to just walking over to the site – is a building site ever kept covered up behind curtains?) is transparency????????????????? I think the couple of hundred (I exaggerate but not a lot) people who are called managers at City Hall must get together once a year at Yellow Point for a weekend and given their word of the year which they will use over and over again – usually to cover up (opaquely)the exact opposite.
David: While I might agree about the term transparency, its overuse and even abuse, what term do you suggest which will not bring with it legal jeopardy?
Suggestion, while I do agree there is likely little appetite for transparency at city hall, and staffers and Councillors have latched onto the latest buzz word, in spite of their best efforts to avoid real forms of transparency (used the word again), the word does clearly state an objective many in the public would like to see.
The local media could do a whole lot more for the cause of transparency, if they would do some actual reporting, instead of polishing up press releases. Something I attempt to do with my blog.
I don’t see banning a word from discussion, when it clearly conveys the intent being expressed by those watching council as being helpful That said, openness has a nice ring to it also, and is equally clear as to what it means.
Clearly, Council & staff are seeking to portray sustainable transparency for all stakeholders.
Funny how two of the more controversial projects in Nanaimo have had Cameras set up so we can view their progress. How hard can it be to set up a camera for the FPCOW meetings? Oh yeah I forget council would not like the public to see how many In Camera meetings are actually going on.
Council needs to publish how each member voted on all the issues on a regular basis. This information should be in the paper and on websites so it is easy to access for everybody.