TEXT OF CHAMBER PRESENTATION TO CITY COUNCIL
TEXT OF CHAMBER PRESENTATION TO CITY COUNCIL
November 2, 2015
BY KIM SMYTHE, CEO
Thank you for welcoming the Chamber of Commerce this evening. We thought it was important to
provide this update on our first Report to Council on February 16 shortly after your election to office. In
that presentation we pointed out how much your individual platforms in the election were aligned with
the Chamber of Commerce platform. We found the following commonalities:
• A wish to use teamwork to provide better leadership
• A commitment to Maximizing Core Service Efficiencies
• The desire to seek transparency & community input in governance
• Ensuring you are informed, engaged and acting responsibly and
• Continually striving for community prosperity
Council was in general agreement that their values aligned with our platform points so we felt we were
all ready to work in unison. We went on to identify six key priorities for your first year in office. Here’s a
report card on those, ranking each priority as:
o Not yet started
o Project Initiated
o Project Progressing
o Project Stalled
Here are the priorities we identified at that time:
• Updating the 2012-2015 Corporate Strategic Plan – not yet started
• Green Tape Committee – stalled while we wait for Core Review
• Reviewing development and building permit procedures – initiated at staff level, but not reached Council table yet.
• Overhauling sign bylaws – not yet started
• Core Review – initiated the RFP in the past month
• Freezing Commercial Tax Rate hikes – completed by freezing tax increases across the boards – other than the asset management allowance of 1%.
Congratulations on that.
But take that list as a body of work and we don’t have a lot to celebrate. This is not the level of progress
that Nanaimo needs and it should have been achievable as Council. We say, as the voice of business,
that this community – all taxpayers — unfortunately aren’t getting their money’s worth today.
There are some who would say that an inability to define a shared vision, both short and long term, by
this Council is causing a slow down and is, in fact, preventing any real progress. An impediment to
defining a shared vision is Council’s apparent inability to communicate effectively and respectfully.
That’s been very visible in these very chambers, never mind in the world of social media.
Toxic relations exist at this table if one reads what is published on facebook or attends these meetings.
Council needs to focus on removing this toxicity from the working relationships in order to begin
effectively communicating. There has to be some shared responsibility to aim for that.
It’s been heard around the council table that you don’t have to like or respect somebody to work with
them. How does thinking and speaking openly like that promote productivity and demonstrate a
willingness to achieve GREAT things in ANY workplace? One would think that sharing common goals and
working towards a vision would be much more productive if people working together would focus on
what they shared, rather than what their differences were and how many reasons they have to dislike
There needs to be respect, and the outward appearance of respect, for the office you hold, respect for
the processes you manage, and respect for staff and the community when they stand up here to
communicate with you. But most of all you need to show respect for each other. That certainly has not
been standard operating procedure so far. That is noted not just by members of this audience but
everyone who tries to do business here and everyone who watches these interactions on Shaw or on
streaming video. Of course, the media also do a good job of reporting on the travails of Council.
Objectionable behavior and lack of decorum in this room by people in the gallery over the past year has
resulted in delays that cost taxpayers money, creates frustration and certainly adds to the stress of your
job. People shouting out, cheering and jeering, waving signs in front of the cameras and audience
members leads to an atmosphere of chaos and disrespect. In fact, these experiences and leadership’s
inability to maintain order is at least partly responsible for Council failing to meet quorum four times in
2015. I can’t remember that happening before.
This community needs a Council that is committed to an economic development vision and can point
toward a path that will result in a city with full and healthy employment. We need agreement with, and
a commitment to, Tourism Nanaimo’s vision and strategic plan. There needs to be a long term
commitment to the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, development of a complementary hotel, and a
business plan to make those inter-connected projects succeed.
Or we need to know if somebody is sitting on Plan B? A realistic option to do something else that will
reward our community the way we saw that project working for our us when we decided to go with it.
And if you don’t like what you see as the plans for these projects now, we need to work together to
come to an agreement on what will work because it is a product of our shared vision.
We need Council to build stronger relationships with external community groups. City Hall doesn’t
function well in a vacuum. Commissions and committees aren’t enough to help elected officials and
management make informed decisions. Partnerships need to be built or strengthened between Council
and groups like the Chamber, the Port Authority, Airport Commission, DNBIA, YPN and others.
In the 2012 – 2015 Nanaimo Corporate Strategic Plan, a commitment was made to deliver ‘excellent
municipal government’. That can’t be done without your vision defining what excellent municipal
government is. We need an updated Strategic Plan to guide that. This can and should be done in parallel
with the Core Review.
Finally, the Chamber strongly encourages Council to use the current opportunity of choosing a new city
manager as a chance to come together with this common vision. Use this time right now to figure out
how find consensus amongst the nine of you on what is best for Nanaimo’s future. Our new City
Manager will need that to help set their goals and targets. Without Council leading the process, how will
our new City Manager know what direction to point the ship?
Our new City Manager will be in charge of rebuilding a senior management team at city hall. These new
leaders will make a major contribution to a new culture at city hall steering Nanaimo’s municipal
management course into the future. This must be directed by the community’s shared vision and led by
you. This can be delivered through an updated strategic plan with a list of exciting goals and excellent
opportunities for the community to work on together.
That is why the act of working together to uncover this vision is one of the most incredible opportunities
you will have in your four-year term. Doing this successfully would demonstrate true leadership and, this
alone, could well be your greatest legacy as our City Council.
Much has already been written about this presentation to Council which was delivered at last night’s meeting. It is worth while to see its entire text and to consider its observations as a whole. Your comments upon it and the points raised are requested. Thanks to Kim and the Chamber for permitting the full text to be posted here. RLB
As a side note, I believe that the model set here by the Chamber is one which could be used to good effect by other Nanaimo interest groups to present a more coherent view of their objectives for our City: one can think of groups involved in such activities as the arts, sports, culture, communities, etc. which could make organized reviews and proposals to Council on an annual basis rather than the fragmented and often dis-organized approaches currently used.