Three Letters to the Editor

Ron Bolin: June 7, 2013

I couldn’t control myself after reading the agenda for Monday’s Council meeting and have given up after only three letters as I am exhausted.   Read them and weep.  We are watching our dignity leave the field.

If you find any or all of these topics to be of interest do not hesitate to comment here on the blog, or better yet, get your comments to Council before Monday’s meeting.  I believe we have provided all of them with computers or pads, so they should be available right up to –or even during- the meeting.

Letter the First (Colliery Dams):

Letter to the Editor:

The Council agenda for Monday, June 10, contains a report regarding the Colliery Dams Removal Tender which appears imminent. That report notes that:

“At is (sic) meeting of 2013-May-13, Council directed staff to:

proceed with immediate removal of the lower and middle Chase River Dams and take

the necessary steps to build replacements for both dams and equip the lower dam to

ensure it can be used for hydro generation.”


A tender and drawings for removal have been prepared and are ready to be issued; award

would be contingent upon receiving approval from Dam Safety Section and Department of

Fisheries and Oceans. The value of this contract is estimated to be $3.0 million. Funding for

this phase of the project will come from reserves, including the $2.5 million added to the

General Capital Reserve from the 2012 surplus.


The work consists of:

• dewatering the reservoirs,

• diverting the Chase River around the reservoirs,

• deconstructing the dams,

• creating a temporary (winter-time) flow channel through the bottom of the reservoirs,

• controlling erosion and sediment release to stabilize the area for winter time flows and mitigate the risk to downstream fisheries, residents, and infrastructure.


While the removal project proceeds, design and approvals can proceed on the dam replacement structures, with construction targeted for 2014.”

Careful reading of these passages clearly identifies a disjuncture between the motion which was passed by Council and the “work” to be contracted as there are no identifiable simultaneous steps to be taken to rebuild.  This is reminiscent of the conference centre referendum question which promised that, if authority to borrow $30 million dollars were approved, citizens would get a centre and a hotel for $52.5 million.  The only part of the promise that was kept was the borrowing of the $30 million.  Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.


Letter the Second (Upper Lantzville Water):

Letter to the Editor

At its meeting of Monday, June 10, Council will consider a Staff recommendation:

That Council authorize Staff to finalize a water supply agreement with the District of Lantzville based on the terms outlined in the Staff report.”

The purpose of this recommendation is given as

“To obtain Council approval for the supply of water to Lantzville.”


The brief and politically unenlightening report on this matter cites a 2005 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU):


“Under this MOU the City of Nanaimo agreed in principle to the District of Lantzville’s request for

the City to extend its water supply system, at some future point in time, to include Lantzville.


In the time since this MOU was signed, the parties have worked extensively to define

acceptable terms under which water could be provided to the citizens of Lantzville.”


Now I don’t know about you, fellow citizens, but I haven’t heard City Hall working extensively to discuss this matter with the citizens of Nanaimo. The implications of this deal are many and serious. Principal among them is the simple basic question of the conditions under which any municipality should be providing services outside its own jurisdiction.  In doing so are we operating as a charity?  Or maybe we are in a business venture which will make enough money to pay down the tens of millions which Nanaimo taxpayers have and continue to put out on our water supply and the annual 7.5% increases in water rates which we continue to endure? Or are we fishing for an amalgamation, given that water is probably the most important service which a municipality provides?

It strikes me as particularly un-reassuringly to learn that this deal is, at least for the time being, limited to service to Upper Lantzville where a huge development recently went bankrupt for lack of water.

Council owes its citizens a much broader discussion of this issue.


Letter the Third:  (Corporate Officer)

Letter to the Editor:

The Community Charter, section 148, identifies the position of Corporate Officer:

“One of the municipal officer positions must be assigned the responsibility of corporate administration, which includes the following powers, duties and functions:

(a) ensuring that accurate minutes of the meetings of the council and council committees are prepared and that the minutes, bylaws and other records of the business of the council and council committees are maintained and kept safe;

(b) ensuring that access is provided to records of the council and council committees, as required by law or authorized by the council;

(c) administering oaths and taking affirmations, affidavits and declarations required to be taken under this Act or any other Act relating to municipalities;

(d) certifying copies of bylaws and other documents, as required or requested;

(e) accepting, on behalf of the council or municipality, notices and documents that are required or permitted to be given to, served on, filed with or otherwise provided to the council or municipality;

(f) keeping the corporate seal, if any, and having it affixed to documents as required.”

In the minutes of the Committee of the Whole meeting of Nov. 26, 2012 it was noted that:

  1. It was moved and seconded that Council:  “appoint Tracy Samra as Corporate Officer for the City of Nanaimo, effective 2012-NOV-29.”

Ms. Samra is a practicing member of the Law Society of British Columbia and is thus eminently qualified to fill the position of Corporate Officer known administratively as the Manager of Legislative Services.

At the upcoming Council meeting on June 10, 2013, under the Division of the agenda which is apparently now known as ADMINISTRATION and previously known as CORPORATE SERVICES, Staff recommended: “That Council appoint Mr. Ian Howat, Director of Strategic Relationships, as a Deputy Corporate Officer, to fulfill the duties set out in Section 148 of the Community Charter, in the absence of the Corporate Officer.

The Corporate Officer was last noted as being in attendance at any Council meetings on March 18.  Where is our Corporate Officer and why do we suddenly require a Deputy Corporate Officer “in the absence of the Corporate Officer”?