The Team has Changed. Has the game Changed?

Mayor McKay and Councillors:

The agenda for Monday’s (Jan.12) Council meeting looks like a page right out of the last Council’s playbook. On Thursday afternoon, an agenda was released for a Council meeting on Monday afternoon which involves multiple millions in changes in expenditures from the current 2015 budget:

Under Corporate Services: Early approval for some 4 pages of project budget additions, alterations, etc., taking the current 2015 budget from $8,778,974 to a requested $14,432,906, an increase of $5,653,932, and with a total Early Approval Budget Request of $12,792,006. Remarkable are the number of items added to those originally scheduled for early approval. While there is no doubt that things do change from May of 2014 to Dec. 2014 (the interval between 2014 budget passage and the preliminary 2015 budget), there seem to be a lot of loose ends here with cryptic explanations.

Under Corporate Services: Approval of a Building Canada Fund Grant Application for $4.6 Million to meet the Sept. 2014 passage by the previous Council of

At the Regular Meeting of Council held 2014-SEP-08, Council passed the following motions:

“That Council:

1. approve partnering with the Port Theatre Society by:

a. designating this project as the Sesquicentennial project for the City of Nanaimo;

b. designating this project for inclusion in a Build Canada Application;

2. approve proceeding with building a City owned facility on the existing Port Theatre land with a project manager assigned; and,

3. allocate a financial contribution of $4.6 million to the project and support a Line of Credit on behalf of the Port Theatre Society:

a. dependent and conditional on the Port Theatre Society securing the remaining funds; and,

b. co-sign a $2 million dollar Line of Credit in order to proceed with design and engineering completion”.

At its Jan 12 meeting what appears to be happening is to try to pass the $4.6 million dollar obligation which the City hastily took upon itself to a grant from the Building Canada Fund. While this may be an effort to try to recoup some or its entire obligation from the federal government, I suspect that the Feds, seeing that the obligation has already been accepted by the City will not hasten to take it over in whole or in part.

Also, if I understand the matter correctly even were the grant to be made, the City remains on the hook for the $2 million Line of Credit which may or may not lead to the $8 million to be raised by the Society. The effect of fund raising failure on the obligations arising from this line of credit is not clear to me.

Under Community Services: A Social Development Grant Program approval for $70,000. The report does not make clear the relationship between the Province and the City in dealing with a facility which, I believe, was built by VIHA to serve an 8 bed unit which has, as I am given to understand it, until now only had 4 units in operation. Is it not the obligation of VIHA to fund the operation of all of the existing units? Is this a matter of provincial downloading or of a Nanaimo over-reach?

If I have failed to understand some critical reasoning on these matters, I look forward to your prompt response.

I also look forward to gaining some insights into these questions at the Jan. 12, COW meeting. Will we ever be given time for sober consideration of complex budget matters by seeing them appear with clear and understandable reports and sufficient lead time to permit that consideration?


Ron Bolin