Letters to the Editor, Council and the Public: Demand better Reports at Council

Ron Bolin: Feb. 21, 2014

The following two letters were written and sent today to the Editors of both the Daily News and the News Bulletin as well as to the Mayor and Council after looking through the Agenda for Monday’s (Feb. 24) Council meeting.  In my opinion the reports for both these agenda items left the most important aspects of the matters under discussion empty.  This seems to be happening with increasing frequency lately, though I can’t remember when outstanding reports were frequent.  Both these issues have significant implications for the citizens and ratepayers of Nanaimo and deserve full due diligence in reports describing them, particularly their financial implications, and the provision of adequate time for both Council and the public to reflect on their consequences.  Accordingly, in major decisions which come to Council and the public from Staff, it is time that Council and the public demand full and complete reports covering both the circumstances and implications for future decisions of the matter presented in a report.  If, having read these letters, you agree with their sentiments, please contact our elected representatives to ask that they refuse to receive these reports until they have been fully developed and demand better and more timely reports from Staff in future.

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Good Fences make Good Neighbours

At its Monday, Feb. 24, meeting (7pm, Shaw Auditorium), Council finds the following recommendation from Staff:

That Council approve the attached water agreement with the District of Lantzville and direct staff to forward it to Lantzville for its approval.”

https://www.nanaimo.ca/UploadedFilesPath/Site_Structure/Corporate_Services/Corporate_Administration/2014_Council_Agendas/C140224A.pdf         item 7(a)

This  agreement is “Whereas”d as follows:

A. Nanaimo operates a water supply system within its boundaries;

D. Lantzville and Nanaimo wish to work together to provide water in bulk from the

Nanaimo Water System to serve Lantzville and to strengthen this cooperative

relationship through Lantzville’s participation in the cost of other services

provided through the Regional District of Nanaimo on the terms and conditions

set out in this Agreement;

E. Lantzville has consented to Nanaimo providing a supply of water under this

Agreement;                             (Points C & D can be found in the agenda)

There are vague clauses in Staff’s proposal which are meant to comfort both parties, but which contain no quantified estimates of either risks or rewards, especially the rewards to Nanaimo for committing any portion of their water supply to accommodate growth in Lantzville. 

For these reasons Council should summarily send this report back to Staff to prepare a cost/benefit-risk/reward document to be presented to both Council and Nanaimo ratepayers for due diligence consideration prior to approving any water supply agreement.  Too often Council has proceeded to approve Staff recommendations in the absence of time for due diligence.  This has led to difficult and sometimes costly circumstance which could have been avoided.  Let’s not do it again.  Deals like this should be marked either by clear advantage (profit) or by union (merger). Anything else only creates a playground for never ending controversies. 

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

At its Monday, Feb. 24, meeting (7pm, Shaw Auditorium), Council will find in Agenda item 9(b) a report the purpose of which is:

“To present Council with options for dealing with the mandatory connection provision of Bylaw 2496 (Sewer Regulation and Charge Bylaw- 1982) for the Green Lake area.”

See:   https://www.nanaimo.ca/UploadedFilesPath/Site_Structure/Corporate_Services/Corporate_Administration/2014_Council_Agendas/C140224A.pdf         item 9(b)

The Staff report suggests two options:

Option 1: Mandatory connection (status quo).

Option 2: Deferment of Mandatory Connection.

Nowhere does it discuss the elements necessary to understand these options in light of costs or benefits to general ratepayers or the land owners in Green Lake, i.e.:

1)      How much has the City spent on providing the sewer infrastructure necessary to permit these hookups.  It may be remembered that this project which could have been developed as a local improvement was fully paid by general ratepayers?;

2)      What are the costs to general ratepayers of the individual hookups which have been made to date?

3)      What is the estimated cost to Green Lake homeowners to meet the standards required by the BC Sewerage regulations and how much will they save or pay annually due to system hookup?; and

4)      What is the estimated increase in the market value of a home –leaving aside the capability of lot subdivision- which comes from installing a municipal sewer system in a home which may be close to its final sewage capacity and require mandatory hook up in any event.

This report should be returned to Staff for completion before being placed before Council and the public in time for due diligence.  Decisions should be made in the open and be based on full and complete disclosure of the elements involved.  We have too often acted in haste and had to repent at leisure and loss to our pocketbooks.

End Second Letter

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