Gord Fuller: March 30, 2012
I don’t know what others think but we, the taxpayer, have shelled out more than $1.4 million for the new Economic Development Corporation and with the latest stories coming out from the D/N I am not impressed. Ms. Cudahy is being paid quite well for the job she is supposed to do and in some ways she fits right in with the reasons why many choose not get involved. Its almost like she has spent years here instead of about 6 months. As I mention in one of my comments on a story; how many strikes before she is out?
March 30 Work on tourism Nanaimo website goes to Toronto
March 29 Philip Wolf: Cynicism has legitimate roots for Nanaimo residents
March 28 Economic development CEO wants to end negativity about the city
Editorial: Nanaimo could use return of civic pride
The last two stories prompted me to send the following letter to the D/N on the 28th, though if I had known what was to come on the 28th & 29th I might have held off. If you haven’t already checked out the comments on the D/N stories please do, some are quite amusing:)
As one of those that frequently speak my mind I want to say I contend the vocal minority aka. naysayers actually care a great deal for this city and recognize its potential to become great.
Should we sweep our opinions under the rug, gloss over the facts, or like the three monkeys; hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil? I think not. In recognizing potential one must also recognize flaws. Only then can we work to make things better.
Statements like Ms. Cudahy’s ‘the idea we have a lot of unemployed or that people can’t find jobs here is a bit of an urban legend,’ are a perfect example of what raises people ire. Perhaps Ms. Cudahy would like the newly created position of Communication Manager with the City.
Some not to pretty truths about Nanaimo; 18th worst of 92 health areas for Economic Hardship in BC; 15th – More than twice the provincial average – for those on Income Assistance and E.I.; 15% of the population of Nanaimo receiving some form of Income Assistance; 11th highest for youth 19 – 24 on income assistance; 40% of the workforce has only part time jobs; 7.8 percent of families live on less than $20,000 per year; 26% of wage earners earn less than $15,000.00 per year, $3000.00 below established poverty levels.
Sifting through spin there is much the new Economic Development Corporation is doing that makes sense and can have a positive impact however let’s not gloss over the reality. I am proud to be associated with those that are willing to speak out; I am proud to call Nanaimo home; I am proud to be working towards making the community a better place for ALL.
Where to start…
How about the fact that there is no tangible industry here anymore. First it was coal, then logging and fishing and now what a call centre and a coffee shop?
Look, natural resource extraction and the associated spin offs as well as the real potential for value added service to them is something we fail to do – period.
Retail support and the other associated service industries have their place but when that’s the only economic driver for the private sector and the public one continues to get bigger and bigger one need only stop and ask yourself what for?
VI needs to become (again) self sufficient when it comes to energy, food and economic drivers. Nanaimo and the RND need to pay close attention to the fact that their red tape and inability to think outside of the box they have created is what is driving big business away.
We could of had biomass at Harmac – nope, sorry don’t want that, don’t know what it is but we don’t want it. We could of had Fortis and the Mt. Hayes project but that was stalled out too long and the CRD said sure, bring your money, ’nuff said. We could re-engage coal production in the mid-island area or at least not stall the production in Royston but after nearly 8 years of red tape, one has to wonder. We could bring wind generation to the valley behind Benson but nope sorry, we can see those towers and can’t have that – instead lets build one near Cape Scott in the mud. There is potential to leverage the Wilcox yard for those who commute to Victoria but that can’t get started to save itself. Similarly the cruise ship terminal was intended to be an economic driver, to stimulate that area and conect it to the other portions of down town – still waiting on red tape… Multiplex downtown – gee Cliff would be proud, maybe his Grandkids will live to see it?
Food production – oh well, let’s just build another strip mall, that will solve everything… we’ve got to start to really understand that by building out and not up, really high up, not just 3 storeys we are destroying the natural beauty (trees) of this place. the sprawl has got to stop before we are past the tipping point. We need to finish the interchanges on the parkway, get a commuter rail system and rethink the bus transit system.
I could go on but I will say that the results you indicate above fail to outline the hundreds that leave this beautiful area to work in other parts of the Country (the north etc.) via the crippling grasp that Air Canada has on the regoinal airport.
Nanaimo and the regional district is a great place to live but we’ve got a long way to go to bring back the economic potion of the sustainable community.
I currently one of those professionals that works up north. My family is on the island for the social and environmental aspects of the sustainable equation but to maintain that lifestyle, continue my goal to be mortgage free before I retire I’ve got to work in locations where the rate of pay dramatically out weights the full day of travel to get here. There is plenty of work to go around, trouble is, few people want to leave their current location and make something of themselves and their situation as it is far easier to wait for someone else to fix it for them. How many people would really like to make $500 to $1300 per day, not that many when they really look at it.
Ok, sorry for my rant, I’m off the soap box now. Back to our regular scheduled program.
Maybe we need a formal “Why we can’t do it” list for projects which come our way so that there is at least a record of who says and why “We can’t do it.” and folks could work on solutions. As it stands, we have no place to start in dealing with them and so they slide away even before they are examined.
But one has to ask if that has anything to do with development or more to do with the poor planning of city hall / rdn and not letting things run their natural course with a DP process.
This level of government should stay out of the business of development and should instead run the city as a private business. If it was thought of this way much of the dead weight and bad ideas that have been intrenched in policies would be tossed out because they don’t make money, save money or stream line a process. Granted you can’t necessarily take every department that far into the real world but certainly there are some things like operations, maintenance, planning, engineering and that sort can be. You know if they looked at everything as if the money they had like a normal person or a small business than they’d quickly find out that there must be more creative ways to generate income and not simply approving a tax increase.
This level of government should stay out of the business of development and should instead run the city as a private business…..
Life is much more than business.
If we treat life as a business & only for profit then we are ‘fucked’ finished..
For starters ‘developers’ never paid their fair share of ” development” in the first place; hence the sitiuation we are in ,world wide.
Develop now; pay later!!!
Agreed:) I have been pushing for an increase of Community contributions for a few years now and my understanding was that through Councillor Kipp staff were to do a workshop to look at this. Hasn’t happened yet.
TB, yes life is much more than business but sustainability isn’t. You need all three, economic, social, environment. Go too heavy on one and another goes away. When a publiclly funded group runs something like a private company – stay with me here, then it is simply to determine if possitions like ED Office, another staff memeber, is really required. Same goes for projects that some find questionable, is there a benefit to the bottom line in the future? Most of the development issues in Nanaimo are a result of Frank, the mayor from years past – but I’m sure you know that. If there was a plan back then, I’m certain things would look much different now but since there isn’t we are stuck with many problems due to short sightedness.
I know you don’t like what I do (manage construction projects) but don’t paint me with the same brush as I’m more about life cycle and sustainability than you’ll ever want to know. That said, let’s rethink your definition of business for a minute: What would happen if the first idea of business that popped into one’s mind was a coffee shop? The shop owner needs to make a certain amount of money to stay open to pay for a certain amount of employment, lease space and materials. When costs go up, either the price goes up, service goes down or they close shop and or relocate. Apply that to a City – what do you see? We need more money for this, that or the other, what to do, oh I know, raise taxes… How do we maintain the roads and so on, raise taxes, why because the labour is so expensive. The materials are no different than the private sector buys but we can do it cheaper, more cost effective and in some cases to a higher specification for the same money – aka better value.
I don’t know, but I certainly see value in my approach.
One of the issues that is impossible to address without a core review, is whether the actual necessary services are being supplied at a cost that reflects good value for the customer. In an enterprise where there is ZERO accountability and a bottomless purse, true value does not need to be included in the equation.
True. Cut off the bottomless purse and see what happens. Be it a tea party or what but someone will eventually say enough is enough. Get the core review and that will determine many things not excluding what is actually required for any particular department.
The idea of a core review is sound.
However depending upon it’s terms of reference it ‘could’ be nothing more than a avenue to dump all over organised labour & fat cat management.
Whilst this is , in my opinion, all well & good , let us not forget the millions spent upon ‘promoting growth or shoud I say the development/real estate industry .
The six million dollar pipeline agreement between the City & Harmac is just the latest example of such spending particularly when the water is almost certainly earmarked for development in the Cable Bay area!
We should add the conference centre & cruise ship terminal , built for the benefit of downtown merchants ; the ‘investment (if that is what it really is) with an awful rate of return to the taxpayer.
All things considered we are unlikely to see an independent honest all encompassing core review!
Re: Harewood Neighbourhood Plan
Could this be the new economic miracle we so desperately need? Word has it that the director of planning is hoping to implement the OCP in record speed, transforming 650 single family properties into 3 kilometres of major collector with wall to wall two block deep, 6 story mixed use buildings. Wow, this ought to generate some economic excitement among the locals.
In developing the neighbourhood plan Harewood could look to cap urban node and corridor heights. The South End plan calls for 4 – 6 story in urban node instead of te 6+ and 2 – 4 in corridor instead of the 4 – 6. Developers can ask for variances but it would have to go through the neighbourhood association. We, the South End recently approved an increase to eight stories for a property on Nicol. We did this in part because of the difference of 39 feet in the grade from the South West to North east corners of the lot.
All this said it will be some time before developers jump on the bandwagon to develop.
The “urban node” in Harewood consists of the University Lands and the DND lands, hardly a place for planners to dream about high rise towers, office space or commercial development. There is nothing “urban node” about these lands!
The “corridor plan” aimlessly wanders through a viable single family neighborhood for 5 kilometers. The plan is not related to existing land tenure or historical uses. It does not understand the concept of incremental development which is the hallmark of this very sustainable community. It is an ignorant scheme and disrespectful of residents probably because they did not have a neighbourhood association with which to defend themselves at the time the OCP was drafted. It is a plan that promotes condominium development at the expense of existing affordable single family homes.
The point is that the neighbourhood belongs to the residents and not to a centralized planning department out sourcing imaginary futures to Vancouver based consultants.
Have to agree; likely a lot of it was in response to the development community. Now would be the time to bring this all out in the Neighbourhood plan. Push back and push hard.
I have to agree and disagree at the same time. Nanaimo faces many challenges in the coming years (short term) and the major contributor is urban sprawl. Not withstanding the issues with whatever was put in an OCP (I don’t have a copy, didn’t contribute anything to it and don’t pretend to support much of what makes City Hall tick) but the infrastructure is all getting very old. This costs major $$ to repair or replace because everyone wants or has a white picket fence and some nice frontage on the street. When you look at the cost to replace water pipes alone (hard dollar costs, all in is about $500 per metre) and how many metres it takes to go from one to the other, down the road and around the corner, we wonder why our taxes go up. Anyone that supports sustainable development understands that it is more cost effective to go up than it is to go out and in the next 20 years there won’t be any more room to go out so plans need to be put in place for things to go up. Like it or not it is a street we need to cross and come to terms with.
Tough call for sure.
I think and would hope that most agree Urban Sprawl is not the way to go. I would actually like to see our Urban Containment Boundary returned to pre OCP update. Harewood is interesting in that Corridor designation is a tad haphazard. In the South End when we did our Neighbourhood Plan we actually wanted to extend the Mixed use Corridor desigantion further up Nicol St. Unfortunately this did not happen when the new Zoning Bylaw came out as they would have had to contact numerous single familly residential owners to see if they were amenable to the upzoning;had they been and the strip was upzoned the city would have lost the ability of requiring servicing such as they will get if one decides to rezone their property on their own..
Sustainable development is not about plumbing and it is not about building in the direction of the moon. It is about protecting the environment by protecting what is already sustainable.
Harewood is an old established community with an established functioning economic and social reality. “We are the brand”, the families with children, the students, the seniors, the friends and neighbours. We build our own houses and we call them homes, we add on to them when we need to, we pass them down through generations, we take care of each other, we are sustainable all by ourselves, we are the hope of tomorrow. We are real people, not numbers or bankrupt concepts muttered by planners. We don’t need clap trap rhetoric about urban sprawl, densities in units per acre, and infrastructure efficiencies.
The simple fact is that the OCP urban nodes and corridors map is a demolition declaration against the existing single family neighbourhoods of Harewood. We do not see proposed corridors running through north end neighbourhoods and we will not see them running through our neighbourhood either. The City does not have the authority they presume to have to rezone our lands so that every opportunist has free rein to trample all over us. This is not an activity that is supported by the OCP nor is it an activity supported in law. We expect equal treatment as it applies to the entire city, north and south. The OCP as it stands represents huge inequity for the Harewood Neighbourhood. Huge inequity!
Sustainable growth is an oxymoron..
Re OCP’s.. The first thing that happens to an OCP is that it is amended, usually to allow development..
” more cost effective to go up than it is to go out and in the next 20 years there won’t be any more room to go out so plans need to be put in place for things to go up’
Going up is good but where we go ‘up’ seems to be the problem (or one of them)
I believe highrisers are the blight of the Nanaimo water front.
They take the most desireable locations for the use by the better off at the expence of the ‘masses’.
To make this a desireable city we have to use the waterfront to benefit of all.
Nanaimo has no beach area worth speaking of so we have to use our waterfront in a much more inclusive manner; if it is not too late to do so!
As to the ammount of land available for development ( if that is what is desired) we have lots of it.
The problem lies with the cost of servicing these areas hence a sigh of relief when Cable Bay had problems.
On the down side we are likely to see more faux farms/ five acre lots with unlicenced auto wreckers with dry wells , shipping in water.!.
TB: You are exactly correct. Granted I want to see the hotel built to service the convension centre but that’s not the issue here. Why has someone thought it a great idea to place 12+ storey buildings on the water front when they should be placed on top of hills, staggered on site lines to gain views and that sort of thing. Blocking the overall view of the water is foolish at best.
Cable Bay’s original idea was ok (minus the golf course) when it had towers so that it would keep the trees but when that changed to a bunch of 5 ac lots I was and still am dead set against it. The business plan needed the marina to survive and when that was removed the entire idea fell flat. I’m glad it isn’t moving.
So, the question is, why can’t there be a place for mid rise towers and greater density near the university? This doesn’t happen over night but it sets a direction for things to come. Sure some people don’t like that idea but I think there is more value to it than not.
TB: an OCP with the right language is the language of the people that worked at creating it. I’ve done a few in my time and the hours that go into it to protect a vision and a direction are long and sometimes difficult but the results are well worth it. A plan developed by one group or another (or managed by the City) falls flat if it is not inclusive. Again, not everyone likes the results but if growth is happening regardless, why can’t it be controlled / planned / managed properly?
Sustainable growth is therefore not as you say but is instead a 3 sided stool of economic, social and environmental items… When any one over powers the other, it falls over.
“A plan developed by one group or another (or managed by the City) falls flat if it is not inclusive.”
The original location of towers in the downtown area was, if I am not mistaken, to be set back on Church /Chapel not on the waterfront. It was an OCP change to accomodate Pacifica and the Convention Centre Hotel etc that saw council move the location to Front St. as well as increassing height. Council of the day was pushing this through no matter what the public had to say..
There are areas all over the city where building up can fit in,
“an OCP with the right language is the language of the people that worked at creating it.” So to are Neighbourhood plans, it is in the implementation of these plans that we face problems of changes for personal agendas that may not be with the best interest of the community in mind.
An OCP has more weight in the planning process than a neighbourhood plan but neither of them are bylaws and technically have no legal gumption as it were.
What council did / does makes your head spin. I don’t think the Pacifica is wrong there as it helped get the seawall walk finished but certainly this doesn’t mean that everything tall be set right at the front of the city… I’m getting dizzy with all the spinning…
This blog string is about economic development in our city. High rise buildings do not benefit the citizens of Nanaimo in any way. They are made of concrete, steel, and glass, materials which come from elsewhere. They are constructed by out of town contractors with labour from else where. They are financed by institutions that do not contribute to our local economy. They consume vast amounts of energy over their lifetimes, they have huge environmental impacts, and their maintenance becomes an economic burden to condo owners around the time of the last mortgage payment.
Short sighted planners hope in the name of sustainability to foist this myth of high rise sustainability on the residents of Harewood. We will not have anything of it. Our housing stock consists of 90% single family homes, some with suites, some with carriage houses, some duplexes, and a few four story buildings. These buildings are all constructed using a renewable, pollution free material – wood. This is a material that we know very well, is found on island, harvested by our citizens, and manufactured locally by local residents. It is used in buildings constructed by our own contractors and carpenters. The projects are small and financed locally. Everything about the way we build in Harewood is sustainable, and all the money that this activity generates circulates in our community to the benefit of all of our citizens. This is who we are.
We do not need to be re-branded by planners or economic development people all of whom come from elsewhere and know nothing about us or our history.
Joe, sorry but I must diagree here. Check the code – hi rise is anything over 4 stories and we can build up to 6 out of wood should we want to. Next, from a sustainability point of view (strictly speaking construction life cycle and efficiency) concrete is one of the greenest products next to steel. Wood is not all that great when you factor similar criteria (particularly earthquake code items). Next, single family homes are the most inefficient use of tax payers dollars for sevrices, the most inefficient when it comes to energy consumption and promote sprawl (hence the white picket fence idea).
I’m not saying that everything should be one way or the other – far from it but we’ve got to keep an open mind.
The contracting companies may come from elsewhere (this is tendered so far is far, right?) and the labour comes from local groups from union halls or qualified trades that are open shops. Finances are nothing we can control unless one of the credit unions gets into the mix so I don’t think anything is truely financed locally unless there is an angle investor footing the bill.
That said, I do agree that certain aspects of what you are saying hold water but as I am in the industry as a construction manager I’d love to work close to home but to afford to live here I work in the North – I’m sitting in YVR now, awaiting my flight… Not reall sure what is sustainable about that commute but I have to pay the bills. In fact most of the diect flight is full of local residents from the island going to projects elsewhere – all qualified trades and professionals.
Sorry, Wyatt but this ain’t the OK coral. You have one of the biggest carbon footprints around, so does your concrete, steel and glass all things calculated including embodied energy. I said it before; it’s not about the plumbing, Harewood paid for that infrastructure long ago and it’s not falling apart. And in case you didn’t notice, taxpayers don’t pay for servicing land, developers pay through development cost charges.
Your rhetoric is pretty ironic given that you are about to board a fossil fuel powered airplane that is no doubt heading to the oil patch where you will participate in even more environmental destruction, so you can have your dream home in Nanaimo. Apologies don’t cut it. Neither does proposing high rises in my neighbourhood so that you can be employed building them.
Yes I do know what the code calls a high rise, but someone here was discussing tall buildings, and the zoning which is the issue refers to 6 floors as mid-rise. And yes I do know that you can build six storeys in wood, if you have the nerve, the financing, and the insurance, but you can’t build them in my neighbourhood because we will stop them. You can even build 20 floors in wood but not in my neighbourhood. (Google Michael Green)
An open mind is not necessary for any foolish thing that gets written, but an educated one is essential if all these dots are going to be connected in a way that sustains us and our children.
I’m not in disagreement with you regarding “your ‘hood” but as a member of the Canadian Green Building Council I’m certain on the life cycle costing and environmental impact. You are also correct that I am heading to the north but incorrect in that what’s going on – I’m building a LEED Gold project. I’d do the same here if the work was here but it isn’t.
Last time I checked though part of a core review would indicate aged infrastructure that does need to be replaced. The cost is also accurate for hard dollar values of $500 per metre but again, most people ignore that when they think that’s what my taxes pay for. The issue there is another about the ever growing size of the number of people at the City. Then people complain about tax increases… I don’t really know what to say there.
I love wood as much as the next guy but our forests are far from managed properly with these clear cuts, carbon offseting and impacts to water ways and so forth.
As educated adults we can agree to disagree and as far as my ironic thoughts, well like I said, I have employees, suppliers and taxes to pay and it just isn’t happening here so for now it is what it is. For what it is worth, last year I built a wind farm in the north as well but few people down on the coast even know that happens up there.
Glad to hear you landed safely and have your feet on the ground. Sorry about the oil patch remark. I am glad to hear you are building a LEED Gold project. Thanks for supporting the “hood”. You ought to spend more time bragging about your good works, like wind farms, maybe that would help a whole lot of people down here get a handle on the issues. I don’t disagree with the $500 for replacement costs, it will probably cost more than an F-35 since it is tax dollars at work.
I do not know how deeply the Canadian Green Building Council analysis goes but I suspect not nearly far enough. When I think about these materials (concrete, steel, and glass) I start with mineral exploration, the mining of them, the processing, the manufacturing, the transportation of them and all the other connections associated with them, this is the industrial economy, it’s based on cheap fossil fuel energy and it’s very dirty and environmentally damaging on the whole.
That is why I suspect a rapidly renewable material like a tree which fixes carbon and creates oxygen is a pretty good way to go, BC forest practices aside, it’s better than shipping raw logs, it’s added market value, and it is something us little old small potato people can actually pull off.
For what it is worth I wrote the policy and designed the public infrastructure for North Americas First LEED Platinum Neighbourhood, the 2010 Athletes Village in Vancouver. I think we have a lot in common. Let’s due coffee sometime.
I’d like that (coffee) sometime. I was CM on the Ferry Terminal as well – it is a LEED Silver Building but I digress. If it were the Fed’s doing anything that $500 per LM is more like $5K per LM! LOL…
I too look at everything associated with the life cycle and this is why I refuse to own and operate a hybrid car (another story I know) – I’ve got clean diesels (1 of which was the green car of 2008 – but the Suzuki Foundation will never admit to that). Don’t get me started on raw exports of anything (another story) but back to the concrete / steel question – actually when you base it on life cycle costing concrete actually wins out on the green rating cycle. Particularly when you fact in fly ash as an admixture. The problem with the rapidness of trees is that when we push to harvest that fast they loose strength, then we use more of it and then there is a bigger “scar” from the clear cut. Yeah, I know an open pit mine isn’t all that more pretty but let’s face it Canada now controls most of the raw materials in the world – the problem is they aren’t taxed accordinly and most of the big companies that run these operations are not exactly locally owned (although they might be operated as such). I don’t care if it is mineral, oil, heavy oil, water, LNG or what shipping it raw is wrong.
There is nothing green about concrete. Fly ash is produced by the combustion of coal. Concrete contains sintered limestone, calcium sulfate dihydrate, alumino siliacte, silica fume, metakaolin, accelerators such as calcium chloride / calcium nitrate / sodium nitrate, retarders such as polyol organics, plasticizers such as linosulfinates, superplasticizers such as sulfonated naphthalene formaldehyde condensate, sulfonated melamine formaldehyde condensate, acetone formaldehyde condensate and polycarboxylate ethers, and corrision inhibitors. That’s just for starters, now you have to go dig up the gravel, haul it, crush it, sieve it, wash it, haul it around some more, etc.
Did I mention rebar? Without rebar concrete is pretty useless. The manufacture of steel has an equally long list of noxious elements and enormous CO2 emissions.
Did I mention concrete forms with plastic surfaces on plywood? Usually heading to the landfill after a few pours.
I think you need to give up this life cycle idea because it is a death cycle problem that we are dealing with in this generation. The biosphere cannot accommodate 7 billion people plus behaving in this way. Taller buildings and densification using concrete is not the answer.
A tree is a tree is a tree. It gives us nuts, fruits, pitch, rubber, syrup, lumber and a thousand other things. It runs on rain water, ground water, solar energy and a few nutrients in the soil. It is used by birds to build homes, kids to build tree houses, by beavers to build dams, and pioneers to build log homes. It does not contain hundreds of toxic chemicals and its use does not create enough CO2 to melt the ice caps.
I have to go and change the wood deck on my skateboard, catch some air as they say.