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:
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 – Regarding your reference to the Agenda item – Corporate Services – Social Development Grant Program approval for $70,000 for more safe house beds …… See BC Government press release issued June 10, 2011 – 2011ENER0042-000697 – “Supports and housing for Youth and Elders in Nanaimo” …. .. may answer your questions
Immediately after the opening of Salish Lelum, at 479 Tenth St., (18 apartments of supportive housing) – eight for elders and ten for Aboriginal youth …..
“Salish Lelum Housing Society celebrated the groundbreaking of a new youth safe house adjacent to the new housing development that has $375,000 in provincial funding through the Ministry of Children and Family Development and $100,000 through the Vancouver Island Health Authority. The City of Nanaimo will waive development cost charges of approximately $16,500.
Once complete the safe house will offer temporary emergency shelter for up to eight youth between the ages of 14 and 19.”
(sorry – don’t have the link to press release)
Janet: Here is another announcement about the youth housing. It appears that the previous youth housing on the site in an old house was provided some $325,000 per year for operations. What happened to this. I see that John Horn’s name is on the document. I couldn’t stay at the meeting to see if this was sorted. I will watch the video tomorrow.
For Immediate Release
June 10, 2011
Ministry of Energy and Mines
(Minister Responsible for Housing), Ministry of Children and Family Development
City of Nanaimo
Supports and housing for Youth and Elders in Nanaimo
NANAIMO – As the doors officially opened at a new supportive and affordable housing development for Aboriginal Youth and Elders in Nanaimo, a neighbouring youth safe house broke ground.
Salish Lelum, at 479 Tenth St., has 18 apartments of supportive housing. Eight apartments are designated for elders and ten are for Aboriginal youth. Constructed to LEED Silver standards, Salish Lelum will be managed and operated by the Salish Lelum Housing Society – an arm’s length society to the Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Society.
The Province provided $3.08 million for the Salish Lelum housing project and will also provide an annual operational subsidy of $52,700. Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Society is leasing the land to the Provincial Rental Housing Corporation through a 60-year lease. The City of Nanaimo waived development cost charges of $115,906. This development is part of the partnership between the Province and the City of Nanaimo to build up to 160 units of supportive housing in the community.
Immediately after the opening, the Salish Lelum Housing Society celebrated the groundbreaking of a new youth safe house adjacent to the new housing development that has $375,000 in provincial funding through the Ministry of Children and Family Development and $100,000 through the Vancouver Island Health Authority. The City of Nanaimo will waive development cost charges of approximately $16,500.
Once complete the safe house will offer temporary emergency shelter for up to eight youth between the ages of 14 and 19. It will provide a safe and supportive environment for vulnerable youth, where they can meet their basic physical needs, have a safe, warm place to sleep, and get help in accessing services for their longer term needs.
This safe house will replace the existing youth safe house on site, which is operating in an older home, with four beds and one washroom. For the past three years, the Ministry of Children and Family Development has provided operational funding of approximately $325,000 per year. The new youth safe house – slated for completion in October 2011 – will offer eight beds, two full washrooms, updated amenities and it will be wheelchair accessible.
Mary McNeil, Minister of Children and Family Development –
“Today’s opening of Salish Lelum and the groundbreaking of the youth safe house demonstrates the government’s commitment to families, by investing in the next generation of British Columbians. Vulnerable youth need our support and it’s wonderful to see many partners working together to bring safe, affordable housing options to those who need it the most.”
Ron Cantelon, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum –
“Our government has made an ongoing commitment to increasing safe and affordable housing for families throughout the province. Salish Lelum follows through on that and will make this an even better community.”
Mayor John Ruttan, City of Nanaimo –
“These projects are an exciting addition to Nanaimo’s affordable housing stock, and are a significant step forward in Nanaimo’s housing strategy. The youth and elders housing represents a unique intergenerational approach that is a fantastic model for our community and others. The new safe house will provide a safe haven for youth and is an important element in our response to the emergency housing needs of young people experiencing difficulties. We are pleased and honoured to provide support to these projects.”
Grace Elliott Nielsen, executive director, Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Society –
“Since its inception, our society has grown exponentially because the demand for the services we provide has grown as well. We are extremely grateful to all of the partners who have helped us create the Salish Lelum development, and who are helping to create the youth safe house. Together, we are making a difference in our community.”
Allison Cutler, executive director, Population and Community Health, Vancouver Island Health Authority –
“As a capital funding partner in the youth safe house, the Vancouver Island Health Authority recognizes the importance of this project. This Youth safe house will go a long way to provide a safe, caring environment for youth at risk when they need it most.”
· Over the last decade, the province has invested $2.8 billion to provide affordable housing for low income individuals, seniors and families. This year, more than 93,000 B.C. households will benefit from provincial social housing programs and services.
· In Nanaimo, the government will invest close to $7 million this year to provide subsidized housing and rent supplements for more than 2,000 low-income individuals, seniors and families.
· Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Society has been working to help improve the quality of life for Aboriginal people living in an urban environment since 1965. They have grown from a coffee drop-in to an agency that offers education and training programs, health and counselling services, social service programs and a wide variety of special cultural events and activities in the community.
· The Ministry of Children and Family Development is committed to ensuring the safety of B.C.’s children and youth, by providing services for vulnerable youth engaged in high-risk activities.
· The youth services budget for 2011-12 is $38 million – an increase of $12 million since 2000-01.
· The Ministry of Children and Family Development funds a range of youth services that include outreach workers, youth support workers, youth and family mediation, guardianship, safe house and emergency shelter beds, transitional housing, youth agreements, and support services to sexually exploited youth – in addition to programs like the Youth Education Assistance Fund and Agreements with Young Adults.
· Safe houses and emergency shelters provide safe and supportive short-term accommodation for youth who wish to leave the streets or other unsafe situations. The Ministry of Children and Family Development provides funding for approximately 85 safe housing and emergency shelter beds across B.C.
· To learn more about provincial programs and services to address homelessness, visit: http://www.bchousing.org/Initiatives/Creating/PHI
To learn more about Ministry of Children and Family Development services for vulnerable youth, visit: http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/youth/index.htm
604 318-4419 cell
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Children and Family Development
City of Nanaimo
Ron: In the first paragraph of your post of January 13th, you wrote: “It appears that the previous youth housing on the site in an old house was provided some $325,000 per year for operations. What happened to this.”
Excellent question, Ron!! Has anyone answered it yet?
As you know, the Ministry’s Press Release of June 10, 2011, advised: “This safe house will replace the existing youth safe house on site, which is operating in an older home, with four beds and one washroom. For the past three years, the Ministry of Children and Family Development has provided operational funding of approximately $325,000 per year.” The new youth safe house, which was to offer eight beds, was apparently, slated for completion in October 2011.
It is with a great deal of hope for the future that I reflect on the actions of Council at Monday’s COW meeting. Council refused to be sold a bill of goods on the basis of one of the worst reports it has been my misfortune to examine. It provided examples of almost every type of misleading and poorly presented warrant-less assertions which could be presented regarding the need for pre-approval of inadequately defined projects. They were presented as a haystack of “needs” without adequate demonstration of those needs.
When asked about varying projects, rather that presenting the missing information needed to make a responsible decision, Staff tried to inveigle Council into itself studying the matter thus taking them away from their role in setting policy and procedure and into Staff’s role as managers of operations. City Staff are very well paid and know, or should know, how to write reports which are both complete and accurate in both documentation and design. That they have been allowed to lay a large portion of their responsibility on Council has been the downfall of previous Councils and will do the same to this one if allowed to do so. Staff has a duty much higher than simply running things up the flag pole and seeing if they can get Council to salute. Council did not salute on Monday. Let’s hope they continue in this manner, only saluting when the ceremony has the goods to go with the flag raising.
With a bunch of rookies now on Council the time was ripe for staff to manipulate them.
Lets hope that the new members of Council grow up quickly.
It looks like this new crew may not be so easy to manipulate. We need to keep watching and to keep offering advice when we think it is needed.
At the January 12th COW meeting, council unanimously endorsed Coun. Kipp’s motion to hold regular council meetings and COW meetings on Thursdays, instead of Mondays. In view of that decision, I wrote to council on Jan. 16th to enquire if the regular open council meetings that begin at 7:00 p.m., will continue to be televised from the Shaw Auditorium. Shaw TV Channel 4 televises the “Voice of BC” program (Vaughn Palmer), weekly, on Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. (Coun. Brennan was not in attendance at said COW meeting.)
Janet: This form doesn’t seem to allow a reply to a reply. In any event the answer to your question is: ambiguous… This is the reply I got from John Horn:
Hi Ron, thanks for paying attention to these things – not everyone does
By way of cc I am going to direct your query to my colleague at Tillicum Lelum who will be better able to answer that question
City of Nanaimo
I have not yet had a reply from the colleague at Tillicum Lelum. But I remain curious as to why Mr. Horn would not be able to answer himself as the question involves City finances.
Ron: Further to the response that you received from Social Planner, John Horn, it appears from the COW Agenda, that the report to council regarding the 2015 Social Development Grant Program was not submitted by staff … it was submitted by the Chair of the Social Planning Advisory Committee.
Janet: The following message wiht regard to our Committees and Commissions was sent to Mayor and Council yesterday. It deals directly with this kind of problem. Council is meeting on Committees at 4pm today.
Mayor McKay and Councillors:
Before or during your discussion on Committees at your SPECIAL OPEN COUNCIL MEETING on Jan. 19, I ask that the following information be publicly available for each Committee or Commissions:
1. An Annual Report showing the number of times it met, attendance at those meetings and the activities which it undertook and completed last year;
2. The number of Council and Staff members assigned to the Committee or Commission and these direct costs to the City;
3. The amount of money needed for the operation of the Committee or Commission last year;
4. The amount of grant and or exemption money which is controlled by the Committee or Commission.
Committees and Commissions are made up of unelected appointees which may come to be politically active in the administration of the City’s responsibilities to its citizens. I believe that an examination of the distribution of the $7.4 million in grants and exemptions given by the City, i.e. some 8% of the total amount of Nanaimo’s property taxes, makes this case.
I would additionally ask that, for each commission or committee, you ask whether individual private citizens and/or groups could not provide oversight and input to the area of any C or C to guide Council in its deliberations about that area. This approach seems to work for the Chamber of Commerce which is readily prepared to offer suggestions and comments which apparently are sufficient to leave it off the role of City sponsored Commissions and Committees.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to tomorrow’s discussion.
Apparently ; no changes to be expected!!