Governance in the City of Nanaimo – Letter to Mayor and Council

Ron Bolin: Nov. 2, 2012

The following report and recommendation will be brought before you at the meeting of Council acting in their manifestation as the Committee of the Whole to be held in the Shaw Auditorium, 80 Commercial Street, Nanaimo, BC on Monday, 2012-Nov-05, commencing at 4:30p.m.

While the intensions of this study are admirable, it may be noted that this report gives no definition of the term “governance”, i.e. of that which is to be measured.  In my opinion this is a significant lapse which could easily lead to an anecdotal rather than an analytic result.  I would suggest that the definition given by the Institute of Governance   ( )  is a useful one and should be considered:

Governance determines who has power, who makes decisions, how other players make their voice heard and how account is rendered.

It may also be noted that the subjects of concern in the list provided for the study in its terms of reference are defined by current City bylaws, policies and procedures in routine operation in Nanaimo.  It would be both effective and efficient to provide the consultants at the RFP stage with a document regarding these currently guiding elements prepared by our own legislative Staff who operate with this information daily.  This would mitigate the requirement for a consultant to start by doing ineffectively and at our cost, a task for which our Staff are already efficient, competent, and paid to do.

Such a document would also be of considerable utility to all citizens wishing to understand the way in which City Hall operates. Advice from the chosen consultant could, given Council’s assent, then be easily integrated to provide a final operating product. 

I hope that Council, meeting as the Committee of the Whole, will not at this stage approve the release of this RFP given the scant information contained in this report and would look forward to a more clear and complete RFP presented for consultant response.  This is a significant area in which the City can improve and Staff are to be congratulated for starting this process even if, in my opinion, a bit prematurely.

Thanks for your consideration.

Ron Bolin


City of Nanaimo




It is recommended that Council proceed with issuance of a request for proposals for the purpose of selecting a qualified consultant to undertake a governance review for the City of Nanaimo based on the attached summary terms of reference.


Council’s strategic plan which was adopted on 2012-JUL Y-09 identifies “Taking Responsibility” as a Strategic Priority. Within this Strategic Priority, Council identified an external “Governance Policy, Structure and Processes Review and Audit” as a potential strategy and/or initiative. The plan further identifies the City’s “Operating Philosophy” that is intended to define how we want to perform and be seen by stakeholders. The intention of the RFP will be to have a consultant measure the City’s governance against its Operating Philosophy and to provide recommendations to close or eliminate the gap between the City’s stated governance objectives and its performance.


Hiring a consultant through an RFP process is part of the implementation of Council’s strategic plan. The strategic plan implementation schedule states that this step of the implementation will commence in 2012 with the actual study completed in 2013. There are sufficient funds in the 2012 Financial Plan (Council Contingency) to fund this study.

Staff have prepared draft terms of reference, a summary of which is appended to this report as “Attachment A”. If Council approves the issuance of an RFP, staff will return with a recommended course . of action based on the responses. The deadline for responses is expected to be 2012-NOV-23.

Respectfully submitted,
D.W. Holmes,
Assistant City Manager/
General Manager, Corporate Services
Drafted: 2012-SEP-21


I concur with the staff recommendation.





The consultant will be responsible for providing expert advice in the form of the following deliverables (note that proponents are not limited by the deliverables and may wish to expand on them):

• Audit of current policy-setting environment – by measuring against the Operating Philosophy articulated in the Strategic Plan, assess the City’s governance to date including, but not limited to:

  • Use of committees;
  • Role and authority of committees;
  • Timing and format of meetings;
  • Policies related to in-camera meetings;
  • Practices for preparing Council for decision-making, including Council Briefings;
  • Delegated authority to staff (including delegation bylaw)
  • Council Meetings (including procedure bylaw).

• Recommendations – provide recommendations for the City of Nanaimo’s policy setting environment intended to meet the objectives of the strategic plan,

• Policy Documentation – draft any policy documentation required to implement the recommendations; and

• Best Practices Alternatives – provide any appropriate “Best Practices” other than those recommended that may be effective in the City’s circumstances with a comment on their strengths and weaknesses in the City’s application.