Is it a record?

Ron Bolin: April 13, 2012

The agenda for Monday’s Regular Meeting of City Council is some 412 pages in length and more may come in the final amended version which will be out on Monday prior to the 7pm meeting in the Shaw auditorium.  If I were a Councillor I would certainly let it be known that the time between the release of the Agenda, usually on the Thursday afternoon preceding the Monday meeting, does not provide adequate time for the reasonable consideration of the business of the City of Nanaimo: and most especially not when the agenda is overweight with the lengthy, significant and detailed reports which form part of this one.

In addition to the usual 1 to 5 page reports usually to be found in an agenda we have the following:

  • a 48 page report on the Westwood Tennis Club Land Use Contract;
  • a 79 page report on the Public Hearing of Thursday, April 5, 2012;
  • a 50 page report on Expressions of Interest for the Sale of the City Hall Annex;
  • a 42 page report on RCMP Contract Renewal;
  • a 68 page report on the 2011 Annual Financial Statements and KPMG Audit Findings  (pp 285-353. Does not match the agenda index.)

While I suspect that these subjects have been part of previous discussions, these documents are, in effect, the contracts that have been drawn on them and thus are worthy of detailed scrutiny before they are finally approved.  I am sure that our Councillors are well aware of their responsibilities in this regard and they deserve the time that it takes to ensure that Staff, as their agents, but with their own viewpoint in mind, have not overlooked something important to the public weal.  This was apparently the case when a deal was struck with Millennium Developments which paid them over $3 million taxpayer dollars directly for services which were never provided rather than putting the funds into an escrow account to be paid following  performance.  Responsibility is Council’s charge and commitment and I do not see how this can be done in a case like this.  I want my representatives to demand their right to sufficient time for appropriate oversight.  This seems to be a glaring case on which to make that demand.  All agenda items, barring emergencies items -which in a well-run organization should be few and far between- should be distributed at least a week in advance to both Council and the public for adequate scrutiny.

There will also be two important presentations at the meeting.  In the first, a representative of KPMG the City’s auditors will provide a presentation on the City of Nanaimo’s audited financial statements.  In the Second, Ms. Terry Hartley, Nanaimo’s HR Director and the principals of RETHINK (West) will give a presentation on the development to date of the Corporate Strategic Plan.  Both these are matters of significant consequence to the development of our City, and its business, social and financial well-being and deserve our full attention.

It may be noted that the agenda presented on line at:

http://www.nanaimo.ca/UploadedFilesPath/Site_Structure/Corporate_Services/Corporate_Administration/2012_Agendas/C120416A.pdf

does not take note of the Notice of Motion given by Councillor Anderson at the last Council meeting regarding the recording of the other Council Meetings, i.e. the Finance and Policy Committee of the Whole (which even now is slated to become the Committee of the Whole and to be the only entry point for Delegations on matters not on the Regular Council Agenda.)  I have been informed that this was an oversight and will be added in the final agenda.  IT will be a great step forward in transparency if this motion passes.  One can only speculate on the message which Council is sending if it is defeated.

Things are happening out there in our Council and in our City.  On Monday aside from the scheduled Council meeting at 7pm, there is the usual morning get together as well as an 90(1) in-camera session scheduled for 11:30 am.  Be aware.  Be active.  Be alive.

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