Agreeing to Disagree about an Agreement
Ron Bolin: Oct. 16, 2012
At Monday’s Council Meeting, Mr. Bernie Dumas, President and CEO of the Nanaimo Port Authority presented a sketch of the Marina Development Project which is being undertaken via a 30 year lease arrangement between the Port Authority and the Pacific Northwest Marina Group. Under this agreement the City’s commercial boat basin will receive an estimated $9.3 million dollar upgrade which will allow for a greater number of slips available to be re-leased to boat owners by the PNMG. This will presumably relieve the Port Authority from the task of routine management of the boat basin as well as provide income to it. The nature of the benefit to the Port Authority was not touched upon.
There was a nearly full house at the meeting which was cautioned to refrain from outbursts and those in attendance for this subject maintained decorum despite the fact that it was their lives that were under discussion. They were not allowed to ask questions.
The heart of the matter revolves around the insecurity which has been raised about the relation between the two geographically separated parts of Nanaimo, i.e. that part on Vancouver Island on the one hand and the part on Protection Island on the other. Protection Island residents and their visitors depend on a privately operated ferry service which is located in the boat basin as well as their privately owned boats which are allotted either paid slips or a free 3 hour tie up in the basin.
Assurances were given that the number of small 20 foot slips available for rent or lease would be increased from those currently available and that the space available for tie ups would also be somewhat increased.
The problems lie in two areas of the agreement.
First in the lease times involved: while PNMG will get a 30 year lease for their part, the lease agreements for Protection Island residents who require access to the City where they work, fill their requirements for living and to which they pay their property taxes are unclear. The Port Authority indicated that they would be concerned should problems arise in these areas but, in the end, washed their hands of any prescribed action.
Second, there was a great deal of hand wringing by the City about their ineffective role in this affair, asserting that it was a matter between the Port Authority, an agency of the Federal government and the PNMG, a private corporation. This ignored the fact that in the unique circumstance involved, Protection Island, a tax paying part of the City, could find itself effectively cut off from it by lack of access.
The question of how the City could have let this matter get so far without representing all of our citizens was raised during Question Period by Cathy Davis who pointed out that there was an existing agreement between the City and the Port Authority which should have brought this matter to the attention of the City and from there to its citizens at the start of this process. The City denied knowledge of such a document.
The City owes us all a debt of informing our Citizens of matters which may impact their lives and their livelihoods as soon as they learn of such matters. Either the cooperation required by the 2004 agreement was not carried out, or the Citizens were not informed of such negotiations when the matter became known. Either is an offense to the dignity of Citizens.
The Agreement, which was provided by Ms. Davis, can be found here:
Thank you Ron for this insightful post.
I was present at council when this agreement was brought forward in 2004. To be fair to some on Council, the only current Council member who was sitting then, was Diane Brennan. Mayor Ruttan had recently been the Chair of The Board of The Nanaimo Port Authority when this document was signed. I am surprised that he knew nothing about it.
But wait…I had a meeting with Joan Harrison and another senior staff member just last year. i brought the matter up, and was told that no such agreement existed. Joan Harrison heard my adamant claim, and did to due diligence to find the document.
I went to council to listen to The NPA presentation and was appalled by the fact that none of those present were able to speak to an issue that is vital to their way of life. Mr Pattje and Mr Anderson had good questions to Bernie Dumas. Since I had knowledge of the document, I brought it forward at question period. Mr Ruttan clearly did not want to hear what I had to say,Legislative Services had no clue, and Mr Kenning simply assumed that it was about busking.
I had not been to council for a whole year. Having been a relief Lightkeeper on Pine Island and Egg Island, a fisherwoman, and a small boat commuter in Prince Rupert, I know how important a safe harbor for all boaters is.
Council has a good tool to guide their relationship with the Port Authority. They have had it since 2004.If they have the will, they an use it to help mitigate the concerns of the public. We have a right to know about issues in a timely manner, and we we should expect that important partnerships like the relationship between the NPA and our City Council will be honored.
I had planned on applying for Joan Harrison’s job ,until i found out that one needs a class 5 license in order to get the position. I hope the successful applicant will keep Council abreast of important documents such as this. Perhaps then a person like me, will be treated with respect at council instead of derision. I took time out of my busy life to walk down there in the rain to do my civic duty.I doubt I will do it again soon.
I had an email exchange with MP James Lunney, and in short he said the NPA is autonomous and any concerns I have should be taken up with Mr. Dumas.
The NPA is an authority unto itself and is not subject to the concerns of Nanaimo citizens whether we like it or not.
Jean Crowder and Leonard Krog have adopted the same stance as our city council who recognize the nature of the power which rests with Mr. Dumas and his board. There was no need to discuss this matter with city council or city residents as the running of the harbour is entirely left in the capable hands of the NPA headed by Mr. Dumas.
As for the security of dock space at the boat basin, Protection Island residents have never had any more than a one year agreement in the past, as is the case with the other marinas they dock at.
Perhaps the residents could pool resources and build their own private dock?
In the eyes of the law your response is quite correct. However, as we all know, the law is, from time to time, an ass. In this case the issue, as is often the case, is between the law and justice. They are not the same thing. The law is a very concrete thing while justice is ephemeral, but founded in our feelings of what is right and what is wrong.
It may not be right that this island is a part of Nanaimo rather than being either independently governed or a part of a larger island group as is Gabriola, but our history and Frank Ney made it so.
In this case what rights do Protection islanders as residents of Nanaimo have to safe, effective and efficient transportation within the boundaries of their municipality. And can these rights be so easily surrendered to an organization which is a part of neither? I do not know how many other situations see such a sunder barring those which find themselves on both sides of a river. This situation is unique and should be recognized as such by all parties, particularly in view of the Charter registered in 2004 between the City and the Port Authority. For the City, under these conditions to refuse to fully represent their citizens in matters such as this by pleading nolo contendere is a dereliction of their duty.
I have posted an article on my site http://www.nanaimo-info-blog.com linking to this document which may or may not have any real force behind it.
In any case, as I point out in my post, the idea of having public consultation AFTER the decisions have been made, seems to be the ‘Nanaimo-Way’.
Jim ,the Nanaimo Port Authority comes under the Federal Ministry of Transport. Concerned citizens can try emailing that particular Minister.
Every one of us pays a port fee when we travel by plane or boat to and from this island. Their board is unelected and unaccountable to us as citizens and tax payers. The folks employed at the Port Authority make some pretty impressive salaries. I wonder if their salaries will reflect the fact that if this project goes through, their duties will likely be cut in half!
The harbor is considered to be a part of our downtown.We all contributed to the many upgrades that have taken place over the years. As taxpayers we need to make this arrogant “management ” accountable to the citizens who contribute to their salaries. City Council needs to step up to the plate.
Cathy …. to quote MP Lunney:
Nanaimo Port Authority operates under the Canada Marine Act and its Letters Patent as a Canada Port Authority. Canada Port Authorities are given the autonomy and authority to make decisions with respect to operational aspects of their businesses, including the issuance of leases that meet the requirements set out by the Act and the Letters Patent.
Transport Canada, as a matter of policy and good governance, respects that autonomy.
If I have read the explanation of the NPA website as to how they operate, they claim to not receive government funding.
I was surprised and dismayed to learn that a CEO and a few board members can arbitrarily make changes which may forever change the ‘flavour’ of our waterfront, but once again, this is just another example of what our ‘leaders’ have been doing while the rest of us were sleeping.
At this Council meeting, which began with a stern admonishment to the large crowd from His Worship our Mayor to keep quiet, has convinced me that there is no democracy here. Many of us have worked hard, pleading to be heard and represented by various political representatives.
In obedient silence we listened to Dumas, CEO of the Nanaimo Port Authority informed the City Council it has no power, and NPA is going through with the deal struck with PNMG , a corporation which includes American billionaire Craig McCaw under the guise of his corporation Marinaco Holdings ULC. UCL is a tax structure exempting him from paying taxes in the U.S. on profits from the venture.
PNMG told me that they expect their profits to come from moorage fees – 30% of which they anticipate will come from tourists, and 70% from “locals”.
We locals are not allowed to ask for their Memorandum of Agreement to be published, or what the terms of the thirty year lease will be. Developer Marker Group, owned by Canadian frontman Grant Rogers seemed to smother a contemptuous laugh as he stated that no of City of Nanaimo’s size has as much space as they are allocating slips for boats of a mere 20 feet and under. No guarantees are in place for these slips, or access for Protection Island residents.
It seems in other cities, residents who cannot afford larger boats are out of luck.
But the larger issue is the failure, despite all the expensive “vision workshops” for public input that is ignored, that there is no easy venue for Nanaimo residents to directly ‘approach the Bench’ ruled by His Worship.
Perhaps a less intimidating exchange could be set up in the form of Town Hall meetings?
Here is some interesting reading
Mr Bill mills and Gino Sedola had some interesting comments. It is a fair bit of reading but well worth the time!
I’d sum it up as breach of public trust.
Ron Bolin 17 October 2012 at 12pm – “For the City, under these conditions to refuse to fully represent their citizens in matters such as this by pleading nolo contendere is a dereliction of their duty.”
According to the Minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of March 12, 2012, Council unanimously ratified the appointment of Mervin Unger to serve as the City of Nanaimo representative on the Nanaimo Port Authority Board, for the term 2012-JUL-01 to 2015-JUN-30.
And it appears from the City of Nanaimo’s website, that Mayor Ruttan and Councillors Bestwick and McKay are the City reps on the Nanaimo Port Authority Board.
According to the statutes governing board members of the NPA , a sitting mayor cannot be a director! Thanks for this Janet!
This is to provide some clarification, as I was NOT saying that the Mayor is a director. I advised above, that it appears that Messrs. Ruttan, Bestwick and McKay are City representatives on the NPA’s Board.
The City refers to the Committee as the “Nanaimo Port Authority/City Liaison Committee”. And in its Minutes of the Regular Council Meeting of December 19, 2011 on page 6, you will see the item “EXTERNAL BOARD APPOINTMENTS (Appointed by Council)”.
My understanding is that the role of the three current Council members would be that of acting in a liaison capacity only, (as intermediaries).
Thanks for the clarification, In my opinion a former chairman of the NPA should not be acting as a liason . If indeed these three council members are having regular meetings with the NPA board, I would expect them to have been well aware of the impending marina leasing opportunity, as well the opposition to such an encounter from the boating population of the city of Nanaimo.
Are we not missing the most relevent point!
This is just another taxpayer payed for asset that is being privatised..
Just how much longer are we going to stand around with our fingers situated into our posteriors saying nothing??
To answer my above post..
Perhaps the Convention Centre will eventually be put in private hands as to make it a money making venture.
Unfortunately,the only forum we have to say something is at a city council meeting. All of us were admonished to keep our mouths firmly shut at Monday’s meeting.
Every single member of Council, and Bernie Dumas got a copy of the agreement on November 25, 2011 via email. Diane Brennan was on council when the agreement was put in place. Al Kenning was on staff.
I resent being made to look like a fool or a liar, when I bring up a pertininent question. Why make agreements with the NPA if they are ignored or forgotten?
The Nanaimo Way……….. for the most part a small handful of folk will gripe and complain and try to make their point. This will have no effect, as the small handful are the only ones that seem to give a rip, the rest are deeply involved with more serious matters such as American Idol, So You think you can dance and other life changing uses of time.
This fact is not lost on the rulers of the land who know they can, and will do pretty much as they damn well please, all with public consent which is registered by silence and lack of participation.
No problem spending $16 million on new offices for staff…….giving $300,000 tax breaks to pubs in train stations and on and on it goes……. all under the watchful eyes of the mainstream media with their stable of…………………… well, enough said.
Better take my meds……………………….
“The Nanaimo Way……….. for the most part a small handful of folk will gripe and complain and try to make their point.”
What is all this intrigue surrounding Nanaimo’s Boat Basin? I kept my sail boat in the boat basin for ten years until a year ago.
I knew nothing of this until last summer when people were circulating a petition, dockside, again the PNMG proposal.
Gossip on the dock amongst First Nations professional crabbers, my neighbours, was that NPA was upping their rates to make way for big time pleasure craft: judging by the finger dock layout it looks that they are right. Here it is . . .
Click to access Site%20Plan_21AUG2012.pdf
. . . that at first glance seems reasonable.
I suppose the Protection people will use the inner basin for smaller boats.
The current infrastructure is woefully inadequate: docks, water supply etc are in need of replacement, more than repair.
If PNMG thinqxz it can do all that for C$4M then they are infor a rude awakeing!
Roger: Your comments are the first I have read to indicate that the facilities in the boat basin are not adequate. Recognize that I say that as one who has not had a boat there to one that has. PNMG has pledged/estimated that they will spend $9.3 million to improve the facilities while increasing the number of slips available, i.e. billable units.
It seems to me that the primary question here involves the move from public ownership and operation to private lease and operation. I believe that there are areas where, at least at some stage in its history, operations can be more effectively handled by private and thus, at least supposedly, competitive management. I do not believe that this is the case where the necessities of life are involved… and for Protection Islanders a secure connection from their part of the city to the rest of it is a necessity. If a reasonable 30 year lease were to be made to them as PNMG demands of the Port Authority, I would say OK. But this is not, at present, the case. One,, three or even 5 year leases leave a great deal of room for too much insecurity. (While current leases are apparently year to year, the ability of the people power of government to ensure access is much stronger than the dollar power of private operation.)
For me the question here is one of how much power a private corporation has over a municipal corporation. Does it have the power to sunder or to distress the efficient and effective operation of a municipal corporation, and if so under what authority?
Ron: So C$9.3m eh: I’ll believe it when . . .! I was down there an hour ago: dock D is cleared and marked so it looks like something is about to happen. If PNMG is about to shell out millions (???) then I suppose it wnts its pound of flesh!
Given the state of the US economy next cruising season will be interesting. Last season was way down from the glory days.
NPA is federal, covering the big ships up Northumberland Ch: I assume MacBlo pays its way. PNMG does not extend that far
The cruise ship pier is also federal but no way do I see that paying its way! DNBIA is all a-froth when a ship is in: living downtown, I don’t see it!
FYI I am dead against this type of essential public services privatization but a zealot has his hands on the national throttle. Asi es la vida!
The trouble is that we do not have elected representation; we have a plundering of the public treasury by self serving back scratchers holding various appointments. Shades of Montreal!
Roger…… from those I have spoken to, the economic concern is the doubling of moorage rates, which is what PINA thinks is in the offing. Originally there were NO 20 foot slips in the first design. It is still uncertain how much 3 hour dock space will be available, it was going to be 200 feet, and now seems to have shrunk to 100 feet.
The commercial fleet fears being priced out of the harbour, and also being squeezed out as less desirable for those wishing to park their 60+ foot floating cottages. I asked the new operator if they figured there was a market for this kind of facility in Nanaimo and the reply was, that there were waiting lists all over the mainland and other points of people waiting to find docking space.
My personal concern, which may be unfounded, is that we will loose the interesting mix of boats that makes our current harbour an interesting place for a stroll. Whereas, if it becomes nothing more than a parking lot for different lengths of white fiberglass boats with size being their only distinguishing feature, we won’t have a very interesting place to go for that stroll. Of course that is just a personal opinion, and I realize that Nanaimo, still can’t figure out what it wants to be when it grows up, but I do think the mix of vessels in the harbour now is what makes our harbour interesting and gives it some character.
A parking lot for large white boats, interesting? ….. not so much.
Another concern I have had is with the whole process, wherein Mr. Dumas and a few board members can make a decision without public consultation on something which could dramatically change the ‘flavour’ of our waterfront. Mr. Dumas is quoted as saying this was not initiated by the NPA, but the private operators came forward with this idea. It kind of reminds me of a convention centre we bought into. It also raises the question of why can’t the existing NPA run this marina in a successful manner since they have had a captive market for years. They recently signed a deal with DP World to run the cargo aspect of the shipping wharfs, which leaves them with a few marinas in Newcastle Channel, and of course the running of the Cruise Ship Terminal which by the way, has half the traffic we once had when ships had to anchor out.
Of course like all little government fiefdoms, the NPA is not actually responsible to anyone.
Ron, I’d be interested to see how the Protection people are treated. There aren’t that many, they don’t have much clout.
As for rates: I started with a 9′ dinghy in 2002, if I remember correctly, @ C$200 +/- semi-annually.
2003 my Ranger 22 was @ C$400 semi-annually and my last year 2011 @ C$900 semi-annually.
I’ve noticed latterly Vancouver boats winter here: Vancouver rates, I am told, are stifling: ergo many also winter at Point Roberts or up river. They can be recognized with a 13k number. I see two large US registered schooners wintering here now.
None of this should have been carried out in cognito!
Nanaimo has become a safe haven for the 1% sailors.
Most interesting! If they are doing such a great job, why do they need to privatize the marina?
The usual reason is that when a State owned/Taxpayer funded entity is successful it is privatised or bled to death with out sourcing.
Cathy; While I cannot vouch for its correctness, I have been told that the great job being done at the Duke Point facility came about as the result of its having recently been leased out to private operators and that under the direct operation by the Nanaimo Port Authority that it was not doing well. I would be interested to know if this information, particularly that dealing with the leasing of Duke Point operations to a private company, is correct.
Do you know if this is correct? If so, it could explain a lot.
I am still working on it Ron.
Ron, this group has connections to The Nanaimo Economic Development (now situated in the old Port Authority officers) There are interesting trails to follow when you note who the directors, movers and shakers have been. Particularly “Sasha Angus”.
http://www.viea.ca/members George Hanson is the president of this organization, which recently held a conference in Nanaimo.
Many of the changes that have, and are happening in our city, and to our harbor, have been in the works since the late 1990’s. my very first converstion with Gary Korpan was about the harbor, foreshore and The Nanaimo Port Authority. I have not researched enough to be able to directly link members with board appointments etc. this is a perfect example of a new “old boys club”. Follow the money .
It seems that directors of the NPA have served as both City council liason representatives as well as directors of the NPA . I am trying to find out who the directors of the NPA were in 2004. So far I have come up with Jane Gregory ,Martyn Green, David Bakes
“Existing BC port facilities are operating at about 60% of utilization – PMV is operating at about 57% utilization.”
Given the general circumstance of marine cargo traffic on this coast questioning Mr. Dumas’ enthusiasm would be appropriate . . .