Not in Nanaimo, Mr. Edison!

Ron Bolin: Oct. 21, 2014


In another performance at Council last night, Diane Brennan railed against the temerity of a Nanaimo citizen in presenting a possible and less costly alternative to a report on the design of one of Nanaimo’s several seriously dangerous intersections. Her objection: the person presenting the alternative to Council did not give his credentials and she again didn’t feel that the expertise of Staff should not be questioned. While I do not propose to present Mr. Appell as another Thomas Edison who, despite having developed some of the seminal technologies of modern life, had no credentials, I do propose to note that her lecture defies citizens to bring ideas to Council.

As it proceeded, the conversation spun out of control with talk about the possibility of spending $50,000 or more in discussions between Mr. Appell, City Staff and transportation consultants unmitigated, even encouraged, by the City Manager, Mr. Swabey. This all arising out of the fact that the City’s agenda process offers no real opportunity for citizens or organizations or even Councillors to have time to consider, research, and discuss projects which may cost millions of dollars with the public, with each other, with Staff or with Council. Opportunities for sober second thought are all too often missing from our bureaucratic processes.

As a former municipal civil servant myself, I felt sorry for the City Staff who presented the case for the project as I suspect that they would have been happy to discuss Mr. Appell’s proposal with him had time and the big dogs not gotten into the way. After all, the purpose of the agenda item was to update Council on the work to upgrade the intersection of Northfield Road, Boundary Avenue and Highway 19A and to advise that the $2.9 million dollar project has been placed on hold. There was and is plenty of time to discuss this project at leisure. I trust that they will still be happy to discuss the matter with him despite the taint that was left by last night’s acrimony.

As a further comment and with regard to the matter of a Core Review, one is left baffled by some of the budgetary choices which Council has made which seem to demonstrate poor choices when choosing between public safety and public entertainment.