Comments on Nanaimo City Council meeting: 2/5/2018

Ron Bolin: February 6, 2018

Following the Mayor’s reading of the seemingly increasingly lengthy harangue at the audience to maintain decorum, the meeting opened with a deafening silence concerning what the hell is happening at City Hall relative to what we read in the media; about the state of our administration; and where we are going from here. We peons are apparently enslaved by legislation which does not permit the governed to see how government works.
The meeting proper opened with a display of the power of the people when they come together with a united purpose. Only brought to the agenda at the start of the meeting (when such things are allowed by special request from one or more Councillors) were two delegations speaking about the Chase River/ Pacifica Housing project: How its site was found (apparently without a wider search); where the fulsome plan for communication with the public (and in particular the public of the area in which the facility is to be sited) was to be found; and what were the criteria governing those who were to reside in the new facility. This latter point became abundantly clear as Council discussed the matter with many opinions and few facts. Attendance at the meeting, which seemed to be made up largely by those from the Chase River area, demonstrate that Democracy is alive and well in our neighbourhoods when a threat is suggested, though it is equally obvious that as a municipality we are in a state of undeclared administrative war which leaves the public as innocent victims of the internecine battles at City Hall.
Interestingly, the next presentation was from the Officer in Charge of the Nanaimo RCMP. (Presentation available on line at , along with the full meeting agenda outline and the video of the meeting.) Among the points made were:
• Year over year, calls for service increased by 16% in Nanaimo;
• Year over year, Mental Health Related calls for service increased by 55%;
• Year over year, calls for service downtown increased by 30% versus 16% for Nanaimo overall;
• Year over year, calls for Mental Health related service downtown increased by 79%;
• Year over year, calls for service around 437 Wesley St. increased by 97% (2015 vs 2017);
• Approximately 15 illegal marijuana storefronts in Nanaimo.
This is not a hopeful report, especially for the downtown area.  As a side note I continue to wonder why Nanaimo collects business license fees from candy stores, but does not require them of marijuana storefronts, in particular as the RCMP estimates that the latter each do about $50,000/month in business. I further note that Victoria passed a bylaw dealing with business licenses for storefront cannabis sales in September of 2016 with a license fee of $5000. Does Nanaimo’s policy in this regard make sense for any but the pot stores owners?
Next came the approval of the Minutes of various Advisory Committee meetings, some going back to March of 2017. Do any of the members of those committees still remember those meetings sufficiently to approve them in good conscience? And why are Citizens deprived of the knowledge contained in those minutes for such periods? Minutes remain provisional until passed in an open meeting… but they can and should be available from the time of the meeting until they are approved. Why are we left in the dark?
Next on the agenda came the approval by Council of resolutions to be forwarded to the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) for consideration at their 2018 AGM. There were two: One dealing with the retail sale of certain pets, puppies, kittens and rabbits, in pet stores and the other with a recommendation that the Province be urged to return to three year terms for municipal Councils. Lest it be thought that these recommendations are to carry the imprimatur of the municipality of Nanaimo, there was no approved motion by Council on either of these recommendations, thus denying the public the ability to examine the thoughts of our Councillors on these topics about which they favour forward but do not show their cards. We will likely not hear anything of them again. I would be particularly anxious to hear the pronouncements of each Councillor on the matter of the length of the term of a municipal Council, remembering that if we had stayed with three year terms, we would now have a new Council.
Following some significant, but largely procedural matters, there came one Notice of Motion:
“That Council direct Staff to reallocate funding for the Dufferin Road sidewalk connection from Bowen Road to the Hospital intersection.”
And a motion which was passed:
“That Staff be directed to video record Finance and Audit Committee meetings.” It should be remembered that this Committee is made up only of Council members and is, in fact, a Committee of the Whole. There has been considerable concern about why the F&A Committee which was previously recorded, stopped being recorded…
The meeting ended before 9pm with Questions from the audience which can also be seen on the video of the meeting.