Notes on the Council Meeting of March 5, 2018

Ron Bolin: March 6, 2018
Prior to the adoption of the agenda, a Request was made via the addendum that Reconsideration of the Development Variance Permit Application for DVP335 – 191 King Road which was defeated at Council’s March 19 Council meeting, be given reconsideration. The request was successful and was set as agenda item 16a.
Following the adoption of the agenda (item 4) and the adoption of previous minutes (item 5), the meeting opened with another cautionary statement from the mayor about good behavior during Council meetings. This hortatory admonition seems to be progressively getting longer and more detailed concerning what constitutes bad behavior during Council meetings.

Immediately following this statement Councillor Kipp, reminding the Mayor of the savaging of individual Councillors which he wrote some time ago in a document to a consultant which the Mayor apparently engaged privately, asked for an apology. In the high spirit of cooperation and courtesy demanded in the Mayor’s admonition to those assembled at the meeting, the Mayor ignored his request with shoo-fly aplomb, apparently finding no connection. As a side note, what has become of the tens of thousands for which the City was billed on that consulting contract remains unknown, at least to me…

Later in the meeting, the Mayor compounded his discourtesy, as he has been wont to do on a number of previous occasions, by interrupting a question from Councillor Fuller which required a brief introduction, insisting that he get to the question. This behavior by the Mayor toward Councillor Fuller has been noted previously on several occasions. It is unbecoming in one who leads each meeting with a harangue on courtesy and proper behavior. But so much for the politics of Council…

In the Mayor’s Report (item 7 on the agenda), the Mayor tried to reassure the public that despite the absence of both our CAO and our Chief Financial Officer on indefinite leave, the City continues to function under the direction of a Committee made up of experienced Staff and named Sheila Gurrie as our Corporate Officer and Laura Mercer as our Financial Officer… Personally I feel that the problems at City Hall are not magnified by the absences, but rather are manifested by them. If my calculations based on 2016 remuneration are correct and both positions remain on the payroll during their absence, then each month we are paying out for them more that the median income of a typical Nanaimo employee for a year…

The Mayor also announced that he would be writing a letter to the Minister requesting that Nanaimo be given time to consider alternative sites for the housing which was previously to be funded by the Province prior to the rejection by Council of the Cranberry Road site which was rejected the previous week. This matter was introduced as item 16b on the agenda for consideration by Council.

Agenda item 8b introduced the recommendation of the Finance and Audit Committee (the third name for Council) for the expenditure of $150,000 in Downtown Event Grant funding for 30 Event proponents. This item was introduced as a motion for Council and received assent.  Councillor Bestwick requested additional information about the similar expenditures last year.

Under Agenda item 10 (Public Services) there was one road closure (11 Roberta Road East); one Development Permit Application (10 Buttertubs Drive); two Development Variance Permit Applications (5341 Dunster Road (see Question Period) and 383 Hillcrest Avenue); Development Cost Charge Bylaw 2017 No. 7252 which received third reading after rescinding the previous third reading due to substantial reductions in the expenditures for City projects on which the Province would allow DCC monies to be expended. These changes reduced Development Cost Charges to developers considerably and thus the cost to taxpayers to pick up these charges considerably as well. (I felt that at least part of the problem was in the way in which the projects were described which did not emphasize that the expenditures were needed due to increased population pressures and not simply to improve existing facilities.) and finally a recommendation to introduce a Cross Connection Control bylaw, Bylaw 2019 No. 7249 which calls for substantial expenditures by the City for some capital expenditures and a new Staff position which, if I understood correctly, would provide a Cross Connection Control Czar at about $130,000 per year and further impose the cost of annual inspection of Cross Control Devices on all Nanaimo property owners with connections to the water system at their own cost… While I agree that this function is needed to keep our water distribution system safe from the introduction of contaminated water (and despite the fact that there seem to be no known instances of this having happened), the remedy as proposed seems more that a bit over the top. This motion passed three readings. As Councillor Kipp pointed out, despite the monetary implications for the City and for individual property owners, there is no requirement that such bylaws need to go before the public… Perhaps this lack of a requirement for public consultation needs a serious review…

Agenda Item 11a dealt with the appointment of a bylaw Regulation Clerk and a Bylaw Steno as Screening Officers and 11b was to appoint an individual as a Bylaw Enforcement Officer.

Agenda item 12 adopted Bylaw 2018 No. 7254 for a Highway Closure and Dedication Removal of a portion of Kentwood Way adjacent to 893 Kentwood Way.

Agenda Item 15a involved a Request from Councillor Yoachim to reconsider a motion which would reduce the minimum lot depth requirements for three parcels at 191 King Road and which was defeated at the March 19, 2018, Council meeting with Councillor Yoachim’s and four other votes. The motion to reconsider passed and the matter will be reconsidered by vote. When and where this reconsideration will take place remains unknown to me… as was the discussion of “The Change of Heart” consideration which apparently allows for such a revote. It also seems to conflict with the ruling that following a public hearing (granted that I do not know whether this matter came before a public hearing, but it seems to me that the principle involved is the same, i.e. What should happen in cases where some new information comes forward to a Councillor who has previously voted on a matter which might change his or her vote.?) How many other votes can or should come up within weeks for reconsideration by Council? And under what circumstances?

Agenda Item 15b was a motion put forward by the Mayor that, following the defeat of the Cranberry Road location for the development of low cost housing, he write to the Ministry to request additional time for the City in which to arrange another location for such a project. The Ministry had offered to provide some $7 million dollars in funding for the Cranberry Road project. The motion passed unanimously.

There were two submissions for Question Period. One from Pat McGee emphasized the possible dangers of back flow in lawn hose during the summer and recommended public education. The second came from the owner of 5341 Dunster which, during the meeting, was set over for further consideration. She explained the circumstances leading to the failure to complete the subdivision process which required the proposed setbacks within the two years allowed. This decision had previously been held over for further discussion about how to deal with time limited actions which were not completed and should come up again, perhaps at the next Council meeting as bylaws can only be passed at Council meetings. Why the owner of the property was not advised to be at this meeting as a delegation is unknown to me.

While apparently not relevant in this case, the story of subdivision processes is one which bears further discussion by Council and the public as such moves can often be seen simply as moves to increase the value of properties with or without actual effort or much expense. How long should possible manipulations of property values be permitted to continue before a halt is called? Is the two year term reasonable in all cases? The same holds for vacant and or derelict structures which can impact not only the structures involved, but those adjacent and surrounding.

Note: The agenda items in the agenda to not square with those on the agenda as presented in the video record. I have tried to use the video record item designations to facilitate locating a discussion in the video, i.e items 16a and 16b in the agenda appear as 15a and 15b in the video…

And don’t forget the Committee of the Whole meeting next Monday, March 12 at 4:30pm at the VICC. The matter of the relation of the City to the NRE, (Nanaimo Recycling Exchange), will loom with three speakers in the face of an end of March date to vacate their current location with no operable alternative site in public view. Is this the end of yet another long time Nanaimo institution like the Civic Arena which disappears into history for reasons which do not seem to be at all clear??

Please feel free to comment in the area provided below….  All of this gets curiouser and curiouser…