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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

NALT 2008 Civic All-Candidates Forums

Tonight is Nanaimo and Area Land Trust's forum for candidates running in the City of Nanaimo’s 2008 Municipal Election. It will be taking place in the Ballroom of the Coast Bastion Hotel in Nanaimo at 7:00 PM

My answers to the questions being asked:

Over-riding Question About Environmental Sustainability

1) Preamble: There seem to be many views on what is meant by “sustainability”.

QUESTION: Define your understanding of the phrase “living more sustainably”. As a decision-maker, what will you do to make Nanaimo, other RDN communities and rural areas of the RDN more environmentally sustainable to live in?

To do everything possible in your power to reduce your impact on the environment. Confine use and purchases to needs not wants. Recycle everything you can, grow your own food, purchase locally produced products, use your vehicle when necessary not out of convenience, conserve water and electricity, and look at alternative energy forms. I would encourage and support any means available to move sustainability forward in the RDN as well as lobby the provincial and federal governments to do so as well.


Questions about Environmental Quality

2) Preamble: In view of air quality concerns and global climate change, some cities have taken steps to ban drive-in windows for fast food restaurants and reduce the length of time that cars can “idle” their engines. Other cities have enacted bans or heavy user-fees on the use of plastic bags, disposable plastic utensils and dishes to reduce landfills and reduce the production of petroleum-based plastics.

QUESTION: If elected, will you work to initiate bans and/ or user-fees that would promote better air and water quality, and reduce landfills? If not, why not?

Yes. We must reduce our perceived dependence on the use of plastics and Styrofoam and encourage greater use of recycling. Any means of reducing the idling of engines, of all internal combustion vehicles, should be implemented.


3) Preamble: A bylaw to ban the use of cosmetic pesticides currently proposed for the City of Nanaimo applies to residential property owners only, while government-owned and Municipal and Regional properties would be exempt from such a bylaw.

QUESTION: Will you, as an elected representative, commit to implementing a universal ban on the use of cosmetic pesticides (including insecticides, fungicides and herbicides) in the Municipalities and the rural areas of the RDN? If not, why not?

Yes. Natural forms of insecticides, fungicides and herbicides exist and should be used. Fines for non compliance could be implemented and if these fines prove not to be a deterent increased incrementally.


Questions about Planning/Development/Growth Policies

4) Nanaimo City Council Candidates Only PREAMBLE: The first goal of Nanaimo’s new Official Community Plan is to manage urban growth and reduce urban sprawl by guiding development to areas that already have urban services. Plan Nanaimo states that under existing zoning for single family and multi-family residential uses, there are sufficient lands already available to accommodate future growth in Nanaimo for the next 20 to 25 years without using lands designated as “urban reserves”.

QUESTION: What steps will you take to ensure that lands available under existing development zoning are utilized first before allowing any “urban reserve” lands to be rezoned for development?

When elected to council I will not support the development of lands designated urban reserve. I will push to make the development process, for existing urban service areas, less onerous and time consuming; re visit the carriage house concept to allow for their use in lots with existing secondary suites; continue the push to increase density in the downtown and work to create a bylaw that will make development of urban reserve areas contingent upon the unavailability of other available lands for growth.


5) PREAMBLE: The Regional Growth Strategy is a good document, yet we are failing to meet most of its goals.

QUESTION : If elected, what specific steps will you take to ensure that the targeted goals of the RGS are met?

Despite Nanaimo’s extension of its Urban Containment Boundary I would promote the focus of development on existing developed areas before considering moving into the more rural lands, thus preserving their integrity, and I would push to have other communities strengthen their UCB’s. The eight goals of the RDN, Strong Urban Containment, Nodal Structure, Rural Integrity, Environmental Protection, Vibrant & Sustainable Economy, Efficient Services and Cooperation Among Jurisdictions, are indeed good. When elected I will push towards at a minimum meeting or when possible the improvemnet of these Goals.


6) PREAMBLE: The City of Nanaimo and many areas of the RDN are known for extraordinary views of the Strait of Georgia and offshore islands. An objective in Nanaimo’s 2008 OCP is to protect the character and extent of existing views of the inner harbour and Newcastle Channel; yet the bylaw limiting the height of buildings along the waterfront has been eliminated.

QUESTION: (Nanaimo) If elected to Nanaimo City Council, will you introduce and support a bylaw that would restrict the height of future residential and commercial buildings to 3 to 4 stories in areas where existing views of seascapes would be affected, and also limit building heights in other areas of the according to neighbourhood plans? If not, why not?
(All Other RDN Areas and Municipalities) If elected, will you introduce and support a bylaw that would restrict the height of future residential and commercial buildings in your area or community according to OCP guidelines and neighbourhood plans? If not, why not?

Heights of buildings are subject to existing zoning currently in place for the property, properties can be rezoned through process. Current zoning of the Chapel/Front St. area, Downtown, allows a maximum height of 6 stories. I believe that not only should heights along the waterfront be no greater than 3 or 4 stories but view corridors must be incorporated so as not to wall off the waterfront. I would support a bylaw restricting heights to those outlined in Neighbourhood and OCP plans as well as one that would put neighbourhood wishes above those of the OCP. City of Nanaimo: Zoning


Question about Transportation

7) PREAMBLE: Chief Judith Sayers, Co-Chair of the Island Corridor Foundation, has stated that “By working together to support development of the Corridor to its full potential, Islanders have the power to: preserve our environment; develop our economy; create safe, efficient transportation for our families; and to build a gateway to the world for our businesses for the next 100 years.”

QUESTION: Now that the Municipalities and the RDN each own a portion of the Island Rail Corridor, what steps will you, as an elected official, take to actively support the re-development and funding of our Island rail system?

I fully support the goals of the Island Corridor Foundation and when elected to council would take whatever actions within my means to promote, fund and support this valuable asset of Vancouver Island.
http://www.islandcorridorfoundation.ca


Questions about Food Security

8) PREAMBLE: Historically, Vancouver Island provided 80% of the food consumed on the island; we now produce only 6% of what we consume.

QUESTION: Considering the growing threats to food supply, such as climate changes and increased transportation costs, if elected, in what ways will you work to increase local food security and encourage innovative sustainable food production within the Regional District of Nanaimo (both urban and rural)?

Having worked as a board member on both FoodLink Nanaimo and Foodshare as well as with other food provision services I would maintain and expand on those relationships to develop a Food Policy and Charter for Nanaimo. The recent introduction of Food Security as a section within the OCP is good but it doesn't go far enough. I will support all of the policies outlined within the OCP as well as work towards making them stronger.
Plan Nanaimo: Official Community Plan


9) PREAMBLE: In the mid 1970’s, the BC Government established the BC Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to protect agricultural lands from being chopped up into small parcels and developed; yet lands continue to be removed from the ALR and/or misused as small acreage holdings that have absolutely nothing to do with agricultural use – while our agricultural land base erodes steadily. Local government bylaws and the ALC Act regulate the use of ALR lands.

QUESTION: If elected, what will you do to ensure that remaining ALR lands are preserved?

I would work to maintain and strengthen the bylaws around use of ALR lands and lobby the province to do so as well. As a means of promoting Food Security we need to be looking at means of supporting local food production and the means for those providers to make a living wage.
 

Questions About Stewardship of Natural Land, Parks and Green Spaces

10) PREAMBLE: Even if a park is designated as such, under current zoning it may still be re-designated or sold by a Municipality or the Regional District for development or other purposes in the future. Conservation Covenants are strong and binding legal instruments which protect the natural state of the subject property even if the property is sold or changes ownership. In recent years, the use of Conservation Covenants, set up and monitored by an independent third party stewardship organization such as a land trust, has become a more common land protection tool in BC.

QUESTION: If elected, will you commit to having Conservation Covenants placed on all Municipal and Regional District natural parks in order to prevent the possibility of future compromises to their integrity as designated natural parkland? If not, why not?

My question would be are Conservation Covenants the best means to protect natural parks? If yes then I would support their implementation, if not then I would support stronger means of protecting our natural parks. I would also encourage many of the policies around parks outlined in the OCP, working to increase where feasible the contribution by subdivision applicants of more than the 5% currently recommended. I would also work towards protection for all of our parks, from natural to so-called tot lots, from rezoning.


11) PREAMBLE: Some years ago, a previous City Council ordered a joint Planning and Parks, Recreation & Culture project to re-zone all existing city parks. Neck Point Park and similar natural parks would become zone one parks. This project has been progressing very slowly and the proposed bylaw has not yet been passed.

QUESTION: (Nanaimo Candidates) If elected, will you support the park re-zoning bylaw and insist that city staff complete this project in short order? If not, why not? 

If elected, will you pursue the enactment of similar zoning to protect natural parklands in other parts of the RDN? If not, why not?
Yes I would support completing the project as quickly as possible. I would only support the bylaw if it meant that all parks would stay parks in perpetuity.

------------

ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS FROM THE COMMUNITY - to be answered by candidates in writing only, and submitted to NALT along with replies to the first 11 (above).

A) PREAMBLE: City of Nanaimo and RDN parks staffs have been working for some years to
develop continuous natural greenways along the Millstone River, Nanaimo River, and other significant waterways within the City and Nanaimo Region.

QUESTION: As an elected representative, what role will you take to encourage further expansion and stronger protection of natural green corridors for use by humans and wildlife?

When elected to council I will use whatever means are within my pervue to encourage further expansion and stronger protection of natural green corridors and speed this process along.


B) (Nanaimo Council Candidates only) PREAMBLE: After more than two years of review and debate, a newly revised OCP has finally been adopted for the City of Nanaimo.

QUESTION: In what way(s) do you feel that the revised OCP (including significant extensions of the Urban Containment Boundary) will or will not contribute to environmental, economic or social sustainability for the City?

This question requires a much more lengthy response, on a local level, than others. As a participant in the OCP review process I was greatly disappointed in the outcome. I will be posting comments regarding my disappointment with the OCP on my blog. http://www.gordonfuller.blogspot.com


C) PREAMBLE: Local food security is threatened by the implementation of greater regulations for meat producers that are not affordable for small local operations - forcing them to send animals off the island for slaughter.

QUESTION: Knowing full well that this issue falls under provincial jurisdiction, what would you do to advocate for the rights of local farmers to slaughter their own livestock so that customers can purchase local meat?

Without knowing a great deal about these regulations, it seems to me this is but another means to promote only those larger facilities at the expence of smaller more local producers and distributors. This has the potential to see many existing producers and distributers lose their livelihood. While I have no doubt the rational is to promote food safety and decrease the number of inspectors and hence the budget for their provision, one must look at the ultimate cost to people through the loss of jobs, increased food costs, loss of potential taxes to the government and a move totally away from local food production. I would work with local producers, processers, food security organizations and other stakeholders to increase the viability of all local food production.


D) PREAMBLE: There is a sign on Rutherford Road, at the top of the hill, bearing a fish symbol and saying "Please protect McGregor Creek” - implying fish habitat. Yet within 20 feet of that sign, a beaver pond has very recently had some kind of excavating equipment knocking down trees, and fresh survey stakes are now planted not more than 5 feet from the disturbed and sediment-filled waters' edge.

QUESTION: How do the restrictions about riparian set-backs allow this kind of occurrence to happen – again and again?

I am of the opinion that restrictions on riparian setbacks, and other restrictions, must be adhered to. Fines for non-compliance should and must be levied and those fines must be sufficient to deter breaching of policies set out by the Municipality and the RDN.


E) PREAMBLE: In 2006, the BC Ministry of the Environment published a document titled: “Develop with Care! Environmental Guidelines for Urban and Rural Land Development”, which addresses the maintenance of environmental values during development of urban and rural lands.

QUESTION: Are you familiar with these guidelines as they pertain to Vancouver Island? If elected, will you support adherence to these guidelines as a minimum requirement for any development to take place? If not, why not?

I have only had a chance to peruse the document but as a minimum requirement I would support adherence to these guidelines. I would however push for stronger requirements if these guideline proved insufficient for the protection of resources.
Environmental Guidelines for Urban and Rural Land Development in BC: Community Planning

Friday, October 24, 2008

Housing First

Housing First

The Toronto model and Housing First in general is actually in a way no different than what I put forth in Nanaimo back in 2002 when the initial Supporting Community Partnerships Initiative funding of $800,000 was awarded to the Salvation Army for its all in one complex that proposed 20 Shelter Beds and 5 Transitional units. At the time the allocation of that funding would have resulted in the eventual closure of Samaritan House, a 20 bed shelter, due to provincial infrastructure funding being moved to the S/A upon opening of theirs.

What I put forth was the idea of taking half, $400,000.00, and purchasing with 20% down-payments 25 houses. After renovations 20 would house 5 individuals per home and 5 would be duplexed for families. Rents based on Social Assistance rates of the time would have been adequate to pay off the mortgage, maintenance costs as well as hiring 6 support staff. 100 plus people housed with one time only funding. A novel concept that was doable at the time and many thought was great, alas it went nowhere.

In 2006 in response to a Daily news story, The cost to end homelessness by Derek Spalding, Published: Friday, December 22, 2006, my idea reared its head once again.
The story talked about the cost of 57million in construction costs and 14million annually for the continuum of support services. Thinking this a bit excessive I penned the following sending it to the newspapers, City Council, MLA’s and MP’s. I think this quite informative when one looks to what Nanaimo’s latest response to homelessness will cost. When looking at homelessness there is not one means of providing homes but there is one answer and that is to provide homes.
__

February 10, 2007


Regarding the story, The Cost to End Homelessness – Nanaimo Daily News, December 22/06, there is no doubt that if the political will was there homelessness not only in Nanaimo but the whole of Canada could be eradicated. As a person who has worked with the homeless and advocated for more affordable housing, I also recognize that in doing so we must look at the burden to taxpayers. With no disrespect to those who came up with the figure of $57 million, as well as the $14 million in ancillary costs per year, to house the 300 homeless taken from the last homeless census in Nanaimo, I believe it can be accomplished for far less. Firstly careful perusal of the census shows the actual number of absolute homeless as closer to 160, I will however continue to use 300 as a basis for calculations.

By my estimates it could be done for roughly $17.5 million, be sustainable requiring no more funding, create employment, as well as allowing for more monies to be put into more affordable housing. Take the 300 people divide by 5 (number of non-related people allowed in single family zoning) = 60 multiply by $275,000 (average cost of a home) = $16.5m, add $1m for Reno ’s = $17.5m, a far cry from $57m.

Now take the 300 again and multiply by $325 (shelter amount allocated by MEIA) = $97,500 multiply by 12 (months of the year) = $1.17m. For the sake of argument we'll say the average support worker makes approximately $34,000 per year multiply this by 15(a reasonable number of workers) = $510,000 plus $100,000 admin = $610,000 leaving $560,000 for taxes, maintenance etc. of the buildings.

Understanding that the BC governments own studies show a savings of between 8 -12,000 dollars a year per person; if the 300 homeless are provided housing the government would save between 2.4 – 3.6 million dollars per year. This would pay off the initial investment of $17.5m in as few as 5 years.

One could also for the cost of between 1.8m and 2.2m dollars per year place the 300 homeless in existing rental accommodations, single and family. This in itself, if the government is saving up to $3.6m, would cost the government of BC nothing, actually adding between .2 and $1.2m to their coffers.

Locally Kiwanis is building a 45 unit seniors complex for the cost of $6m through a secured loan from the province. Build six and problem solved for a mere $36m.

Looking at the ancillary costs of $14m, divide by 300 = $46,667. Given that amount anyone could live quite well. Taken further divide $14m by 1200 = $11,667. This would give 1200 people almost twice what is earned on social assistance and slightly less than that earned yearly on minimum wage.

Canada and BC studies have shown for years there is a monetary benefit to housing the homeless. Once housed and connected to the right services the vast majority of the homeless would be capable of self sufficiency within a year.
These are but a few examples of what could be done if the political will and money were there. While there is no doubt the latter is, a $13 billion surplus federally and $1.3 billion in BC, it is the former that seems unattainable. Perhaps the financial cost might be relatively high to begin with but as it stands now the Human Cost is incalculable.

Gordon W. Fuller - Social Advocate

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Letters to the Editor (part eight)

The following are some of my letters to the editor over the past couple years. I have found, since submitting my first many years ago, that this is a means, one widely read, to express an opinion on events in the city and realms further afield. I fully encourage people to write letters to the editors of what some fondly consider our local rags, though don’t be surprised when they appear and are edited by the paper. In one letter I submitted the editor changed one word, eliminated one sentence and totally changed the context of what I was saying.

2007
Re; Panel advocates housing homeless
Finally after years of saying just this, could it really be true, that Housing the Homeless will be a priority. If so the first thing that will have to happen is the will of all agencies and governments dealing with the issue to put aside their own agendas and recognize the agenda of the homeless, that of being housed safely and affordably.
One need recognize the homeless cannot be pigeon holed into any given category. Some are quite capable of living on their own, others may need a little support and still others support on a longer term basis. When we look at the homeless we are looking at men, women, children and families. We are looking at people with varying degrees of mental illness and addiction, those that have been abused and others that are simply unemployed. All have in common the need for safe affordable housing.
Like the different causes of homelessness housing also needs to be comprised of varying types. Shared accommodation will work for some, others may need varying degrees of support but the majority will be living independently. Single family homes can be purchased and converted to shared accommodation or by adding secondary suites to house two families. Purchasing a motel for instant accommodation as well as purpose built 10 to 15 unit buildings are other options. The point is to develop a framework which includes transitional, supportive and independent housing, ensuring that it is affordable to those who will utilize it.
Monies to accomplish this exist and can be added to further by the savings to government by actually housing people. Municipal governments can also add to the pot by requiring developers to contribute land or money to affordable housing plans. Let’s stop talking and do something, let’s house the homeless.


Re: NNC has been touted as a means to alleviate social issues
Since the $100,000 propaganda campaign, during the referendum, the NNC has been touted as a means to alleviate social issues in the downtown core. Most recently this was again brought up at the council meeting of February 12th. During question period I reiterated something I have brought up before, that being just how will the NNC do this. While hoping against hope that I would be hearing how the project would somehow help to combat, increasing homelessness and drug addiction or perchance the severe lack of affordable housing in the community, I was instead lectured by Councillor Brennan about employment opportunities.
There is no denying that a number of jobs have and will be created by the project. The problem as I see it is the construction jobs are primarily low paying labourer positions, which are temporary at best and the jobs created after construction will be predominantly minimum wage service industry, simply replacing jobs that were lost when the original businesses that occupied the site, prior to construction, were demolished. This to me alleviates nothing, least of all social issues.
If Council Brennan et. al. wish to get serious; Tiarc/Suro/Millenium’s failure to come up with financing for the hotel/condo tower has given them a golden opportunity to do so. Firstly, whatever company comes forward to build the hotel/condos should contribute a minimum of 10% of the market value of the Condos towards affordable housing or addiction services for youth, the later being in short supply throughout the province. Secondly, Maffeo Sutton Park properties should not be used as an enticement to developers but should remain, in perpetuity, a part of the park and improved accordingly for every citizen’s, as well as tourists, benefit. There are few enough free venues for those with low incomes to enjoy, our waterfront being one.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Homeless Awareness Week

Homeless awareness week was from October 11th thru the 18th but in typical Nanaimo fashion the Working Group on Homelessness actually extended the period to a Homeless Month, September 18th – October 18th. As part of the working group and on the HAW committee (Brett Hayward, John Horn, Sharon Welch, France Tellier and Moi) it was definitely an experience getting everything together.

First off we had the homeless census on September 18th. Sharon Welch (running for school trustee) did a great job of coordinating this and there was an overabundance of volunteers willing to trek through the downtown area looking for people. The numbers were down compared to other censuses but these things are iffy at best and, when one looks at homelessness overall, seldom accurate unless done over a period of days. The final report should be out soon and I will post it or a link to it when it is.

Next was the Homeless Fair on the 20th of September. Talk about fun. It was my idea that we do something like this and it almost fell through due to a lack of commitment from service and non-service providers. On the day of the event I showed up at 7:00am, to make sure we had access to Maffeo Sutton Park, and was warmly greeted by 8 of our resident homeless who had told me the previous Tuesday that they would be there to help out. Most had spent the night under the gazebo in the park so I shot them a few bucks for coffee and headed off to gather some stuff for the fair. Brett showed up at around 8 and was somewhat shocked to see them and have all the tables and chairs he had arrived with unloaded in a matter of minutes. For the next 10 hours the homeless took part in availing themselves of some of the services that had set up as well as free hotdogs, clothing and hair cuts. Two volunteers, Leon & Effey, actually kicked me out of my role as head hotdog cook and took over for most of the day. While the fair shut down at 3 the haircutting continued till around 6pm because Barbara Ann Rivers, one of the two stylists during the day, did not want to leave anyone unshorn. As I say, WHAT FUN! We hope to be doing this on an annual basis.

This great event was followed up with a Thanksgiving Dinner on October 11th.

Charities Hand Out Free Meals

This was another great event that would likely not have been possible without the commitment of Sharon Welch to coordinate it. Typical of myself I showed up unannounced to help Sharon and her husband set up for the event and, when it came time to allow people in, took over the kitchen to make sure things ran smoothly with all of the food being brought by volunteers. As I mentioned to the papers the commitment of the many volunteers in bringing this off was phenomenal. Since the event I have heard quite frequently about how much the people enjoyed the food, music and non-judgmental atmosphere.

October 18th was the final event, the Streets to Homes Forum. Well attended the forum was about the “Housing First model”, a strategy used effectively to get people off the street and into housing. Iain de Jong, form the City of Toronto, was invited to speak about Toronto’s Streets to Homes program which has helped in the housing of the homeless in that city. The forum was very informative and well attended.

Daily News Story October 21st.
Woes Can Be Fixed: Experts


While I subscribe to the Housing First model, the only solution to homelessness is a home, I also want people to keep a balanced perspective. I ran across this website while doing some research on the Streets to Homes program and place the link here for your perusal.
Criticism of the Housing first model

Monday, October 20, 2008

GINO SEDOLA

While I only had the honour of knowing Gino Sedola for a couple of years I came to regard him with respect and admiration for his contributions to Nanaimo and the South End Community. The last time I spoke with Gino was the night he received the Freedom of the City Award on September 29th. Gino Sedola, Mr. Frank Ney, Ms. Gertrude Hall, Mr. Ray Brookbank, Mr. Ted Kelly, Mr. Ken Medland, Mr. Alex Virostko, Mr. Jim Moffat, and Mr. Alex Ferguson, all recipients, were members of the 1975 City Council that saw Nanaimo almagamated with other areas to become pretty much as it is today.

This was a great honour but unfortunately one Gino was not able to enjoy for long. In fact when I spoke with him on the 29th we talked about how many awards such as the Freeman of the City seem to be given be given posthumously or near the end of ones life. I think when we look at awards such as this it would be nice if they were given while the person still had many years to enjoy the honour.

We talked about other things that evening, his life in Nanaimo, his time as a City Councilor, his long time friendship with Al Gallazin, but regretably the time was short and I hoped to continue where we had left off. Alas this was not to be but I look back on the discussions we did have, considering myself the more enriched for knowing Gino and being considered by him a friend.

Sometime in November, with his family’s support and participation, a tree will be planted at Deverill Square Park in Gino's honour. A small gesture perhaps but one that will live on as will the memory of him in the heart and mind of the many people he touched over the years. Gino, you will be missed.

http://www.bclocalnews.com/vancouver_island_central/nanaimonewsbulletin/news/33247039.html
http://www.canada.com/nanaimodailynews/news/story.html?id=5cb00bfb-8662-4025-807c-6e6bdd3d4f4d

GINO SEDOLA Freeman of the City, Retired Teacher, Former Alderman and Past Chairman of the Nanaimo Harbour Commission. On October 9th, after living an extraordinary life, Gino Sedola passed away peacefully while holding the hand of his loving wife, Leona Trimble. Predeceased by 1st wife Elaine; mother Christina and father Angelo. Survived by his brother Fred and family; and by his “brother by choice ”, Alvin Gallazin. Dearly loved and sadly missed by his children Paul, Anne, Janine and their families; and Leona's children, Trish, David, Sharon, Karen, Art and their families, including numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren; and many cherished friends. Gino was a member of more than 25 committees including founding member and original director of the Nanaimo Museum Society. A Celebration of Life will be held at the New Nanaimo Museum. 101 Gordon St, on October 26th 1:30 4:30p.m.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Letters to the Editor (part seven)

The following are some of my letters to the editor over the past couple years. I have found, since submitting my first many years ago, that this is a means, one widely read, to express an opinion on events in the city and realms further afield. I fully encourage people to write letters to the editors of what some fondly consider our local rags, though don’t be surprised when they appear and are edited by the paper. In one letter I submitted the editor changed one word, eliminated one sentence and totally changed the context of what I was saying.

2007
Re: Mayor accuses Friends of Plan Nanaimo directors of slander
I find it pitifully sad that that our Mayor sees fit to accuse Friends of Plan Nanaimo Directors and Members of libel and slander, for the bumper sticker that reads “FREE NANAIMO FROM KORUPTION,” when in fact without concrete proof he could be considered guilty of the same. This is nothing but further grandstanding on the part of a Mayor who has in the past called members of FPN Neanderthals and Liars, all of which occurred in the public arena.
I hazard to guess that in so vehemently publicizing the above bumper sticker Mayor Korpan himself may be responsible for furthering the want of it by community members. This may make his quest to track down those displaying it and “suing them into the stone age” a tad more difficult. I have one thing to say to his eminence and that is “GET OVER IT,” if you can’t take the heat Mister Korpan get out of the fire.

Re: Demand return of fees from Triarc
Why is it that our City Council is not demanding the return by Triarc/Suro of all development and management fees paid to them prior to their default of the agreement as outlined in the following section of the partnering agreement?
Sec. 18.5 If the Project does not proceed through an Event of Default of Suro, including Suro's inability to secure financing for the Hotel and Residential Complex following satisfaction of the Condition Precedent provided for in section 5.2, it is understood and agreed that Suro shall repay to the City all amounts paid to Suro as a Development Fee and Monthly Project Management Fee from September 15, 2004 plus all of the City’s reasonable costs, charges and expenses.
Council should be demanding all costs back as they, as well as city staff, have admitted Triarc/Suro were clearly in default. Allowing another developer to come into the picture at this late date, with the same incentives given to Triarc/Suro, is simply ludicrous. By all means continue construction but look seriously at other alternatives for the NNC, as it has been stated when the design was brought forward could easily be accomplished. Use the funds retrieved to hold another referendum, if the Citizens of Nanaimo really want this then surely it would pass by a larger margin than the previous illegal referendum. And for the sake of the city, whatever you do, take the lands at Maffeo Sutton out of the equation.


Re: Council pay increases again. March 10, 2007
I must say I am extremely disappointed in Councilor Holdom’s comment, in response to the $800 increase to his pay as a City Councilor, that, “"Maybe I'll get a new pair of shoes." This is nothing less than a slap in the face to the poor.  

Despite the economic boom in BC the Nanaimo Region is ranked 5th overall for human economic hardship in the province, 1st for a region with a population centre the size of Nanaimo or greater. 8% of families in Nanaimo earn less than $10,000 a year, $833 per month and the majority of those on income assistance earn less than $800 per month.

I challenge Mr. Holdom to step off his pedestal, give up his apparent life of luxury, and for one month try to live on $800 dollars. Perhaps then he will have a greater appreciation of the wages paid to him by the taxpayers of Nanaimo

Monday, October 13, 2008

Letters to the Editor (part six)

The following are some of my letters to the editor over the past couple years. I have found, since submitting my first many years ago, that this is a means, one widely read, to express an opinion on events in the city and realms further afield. I fully encourage people to write letters to the editors of what some fondly consider our local rags, though don’t be surprised when they appear and are edited by the paper. In one letter I submitted the editor changed one word, eliminated one sentence and totally changed the context of what I was saying.

2007
Re Obsession with security
What is it with Nanaimo and its obsession with Security Guards? We constantly hear what a safe place the Downtown is and yet we are soon to have security patrols through the night and on Victoria Crescent during the day. Seems to me this sends the opposite message to our citizens whom we want to come downtown and to tourists who we wish to see more of in the downtown.
Now we hear that Nanaimo Seniors Village has hired security to “keep the peace in the building”. What are the managers afraid of, insurrection on the part of the seniors? If so then I say good for the seniors, rise up and confront your oppressors. That Management would “lay off” 168 employees simply to attempt to rehire them at a lesser wage should be of concern to both the seniors and their families who rely on Nanaimo Seniors Village to provide quality care.
Lastly I am reminded of the offices of former Liberal MLA Mike Hunter. Shortly after the Liberal Party came to power in 2001 and promptly started implementing massive cuts to social and other programs, as well as bill 29 which allows the firing and rehiring of employees, Liberal MLA’s across BC were under siege. Mike Hunters office went from welcoming to having cameras and a security system installed, only allowing those deemed worthy to cross the threshold.
We certainly live in a strange world with Nanaimo being even stranger still. Perhaps that is what I love about living here, though lately I have been thinking I might need to hire security to watch my back.


Re: Victoria crescent security considered fascism
Mr. Rick Hyne’s plans to rid Victoria Crescent of the addicted and homeless are simply ludicrous. The idea that our public walkways would be reserved simply for the deserving smacks of fascism or discrimination to say the very least. While I empathize with business owner’s plight of open drug dealing and aggression we have laws in place to deal with this. Did not Mr. Hyne and others laud the Red Zoning (drug dealers/users banned from the area upon conviction) of the Victoria Crescent area, were they not in support of Nanaimo’s own aggressive panhandling bylaws despite a provincial bylaw already in place?
To think that in anyway this will be helpful is delusional on the part of Mr. Hyne. One cannot mandate people to “get help or get out,” unless in a court of law in which it would be get help or go to jail. One can however look at the broader social issues contributing to the problem in the area, one of the latest being the Vancouver Island Health Authority giving out free crack pipes. If this doesn't attract the very people the area fears I don't know what would, other than giving free crack out to go with the pipes.
Perhaps if this group were to put their money towards affordable housing or drug treatment, these addicts and homeless they so fear would have safe places to go and not have to frequent the streets of Victoria Crescent .


Re: Slumlord
That the building on Victoria Rd., recently declared a nuisance property, housing a variety store dealing in crack pies and other drug paraphernalia, caught fire would come as little surprise to many people in the downtown who have been aware of owner Paul Saroya’s propensity to provide little if any maintenance or security at his many rental properties in the area. This is the same owner of what used to be a beautiful Character Home at 365 Milon Street . The house was in good condition but shortly after purchasing and turning it into a rooming house, cramming as many people as he could into the building, inevitable deterioration soon followed. Within a few short years the building was condemned and demolished due to neglect.
After purchasing properties in the Gulf-view area for development, by Mr Saroya’s company Akal Developments, he had his business license rescinded in March of 2004 for deficiencies in many of the homes built. The company was again refused a business license in December of the same year. A long well documented history of the many problems associated with Paul Saroya’s properties can be found by looking back through the annals of Nanaimo and how often one or another has been before council as unsightly or having unresolved building deficiencies.
While it is sad that his behaviours, and those of certain other downtown landlords sometimes referred to as slumlords, continue it highlights once again the extreme need for safe affordable housing and a Minimum Standard of Safety and Maintenance bylaw put in place by the City of Nanaimo.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Re: Mayor Infrastructure Hotel and Taxes

October 9, 2008

Dearest Editor:

How nice of Mayor Korpan to try and put the squeeze on the feds for funding to the convention centre. This type of grandstanding is simply ludicrous when it would be far more appropriate for our Mayor, and Council, to be securing funds for much promised but never delivered infrastructure services to Green Lake Residents as well as other areas promised the same during amalgamation 30 plus years ago.

Equally of concern is the distinct possibility of Millennium Developments not securing funding for the long proposed but yet to be built Conference Centre Hotel? Councilor Manhas may not be worried but with ongoing issues past and present I certainly am. My guess is that even if the City did try to collect the penalties rightfully owed to us by Triarc/Millenium, for their past failure to build on schedule, they could possibly default on those as well.

Many believe the next big project should be a multi-plex sports facility. I have no problem with the idea but with city taxpayers on the hook for other over budget schemes of late the City’s only contribution should be the land it would sit on. Our taxes are high enough and we should not be burdened with even more.

Now is the time that Citizens have the opportunity to create change. On November 15th please get out and vote.

Gordon W. Fuller

Related News Stories:

Mayor makes PNC funding demand

Sewer promise has gone down the drain

Why so long for PNC's hotel?

Councillor sure we will have a hotel….

Proposed multiplex would be a major issue in city election

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

STAND FOR HOUSING

With all of the hoofoola regarding the federal election I noticed Homelessness and Poverty were sadly lacking from the agenda. Homes for All has been a passion of mine as a Social and Community Activist/Advocate for years and I was disappointed at the lack of these issues being brought forward by the candidates. Knowing there would be other stands happening in the province on October 4th I made the decision to challenge all of the candidtaes from both the Nanaimo/Cowichan and Nanaimo/Albernie ridings to take part (see press release below, an e-mail was also sent to each of the candidates). The front page story from the Bulletin (also below) is the reported outcome, oddly enough the Nanaimo Daily News reported nothing leading up to or about the event.  Not mentioned in the story from the Bulletin was that the North End STAND saw the candidates from the Liberal and Marxist Leninist parties while the Conservative and Green Party had no showing at either venue. A special thanx has to go out to the members of the Nanaimo District Teachers Association and the students from Woodlands Senior Secondary who also held STANDS that day.


Nov. 15th 2008
Elect
Gordon W. Fuller
To City Council 


City Takes A Stand For Housing
By Niomi Pearson - Nanaimo News Bulletin
Published: October 06, 2008 3:00 PM


Nanaimo residents and politicians braved the rain and cloudy weather Saturday to take a stand against homelessness in the Harbour City. Two streetside rallies took place at Pearson Bridge on Terminal Avenue and in north Nanaimo. John Little, centre, president of the Nanaimo Duncan and District Labour Council, gets his point across to passing motorists with help from Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog, Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP MP Jean Crowder, and rally organizer and community advocate Gord Fuller.
NIOMI PEARSON/The News Bulletin


Federal candidates running in Nanaimo’s ridings put their political differences aside Saturday and joined area residents in taking a stand against homelessness.

The Stand for Homes for All brought together dozens of concerned members of the community and politicians on Pearson Bridge downtown and in north Nanaimo opposite Woodgrove Mall, as they waved signs at passing traffic and showed support for Nanaimo’s homeless.

Similar events were held in communities throughout the province.

“The issue of homelessness and poverty in Canada should be paramount in this election and I’m seeing very little with regards to it,” said Gord Fuller, who organized the event.

“Poverty is an issue that affects all people and affects all parties that are running in the federal election.”

Considering the high poverty rates in B.C., Fuller said candidates should be doing more to address the issue.

“I don’t think it’s been given hardly any coverage. They mention the environment and the economy and that’s great, but without looking after the people, how are we going to look after the environment?”

Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP incumbent Jean Crowder said she would like the city to do more to encourage new rental developments rather than condominiums.

Rally participants said the issues go further than the homeless themselves and into the realms of affordable housing.

“This is an important piece of raising awareness,” Crowder said. “It has to happen on three levels of government. We have to work together on a housing strategy.”

Jake Etzkorn, a local musician, said he is upset about the lack of affordable housing in Nanaimo.

“We want some more action on that but we also want people to be more aware that it is a really big problem,” he said. “People are basically living either in unsuitable conditions or out on the streets in their cars.”

Etzkorn said the problem is more visible to residents of the downtown, like himself.

“It’s a bigger issue than a lot of people realize.”

Brian Scott, Liberal candidate for Nanaimo-Cowichan, said he is confident in his party’s 30/50 anti-poverty plan, which aims to reduce national poverty over a five year time span.

“Part of the program, which is really important to this riding, is to bring back the Kelowna accord,” he said. “It was a Liberal program, and we’re trying to bring it back and one of the components of that is housing for First Nations and Metis.”


newsbeat@nanaimobulletin.com

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cops For Cancer

Canadian Cancer Society COPS FOR CANCER and the TOUR de ROCK

I recently attended the Red Blue Serge Dinner in Nanaimo, a fundraiser for the Tour de Rock. The Tour de Rock involves a number of police officers from across Vancouver Island cycling the length of the island and stopping in various communities where they meet and talk to the public raising funds to help in the fight against cancer. Here's a local news article.

This is a charity that is close to my heart especially as the monies raised go to help fight paediatric cancer including research and the operation of Camp Goodtimes the goal of which is to create “a safe and fun environment where friendships and lifelong memories can be made.”

At the dinner auxiliary Constable David Knott and Constable Cameron Thompson spoke eloquently about their reasons for participating in the event. Aux. Constable Knott talked about his personal battle with cancer as well as experiences he had at Camp Goodtimes working with the kids and how they offered support and understanding, beyond their years, to each other

Almost everyone I talk to has been touched in one way or another by Cancer. While it is no less hard for families to deal with when an adult is diagnosed with cancer it is the plight of a child facing the disease that really pulls at my heartstrings. Shortly after my wife Gayle passed away from Cancer in 2003 I was lying on a beach and listening to the radio. Interspersed with the music was a campaign seeking donations for the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver and especially heart wrenching were the personal stories of the children. At that point I made a decision to go home and call the fundraiser to make a significant donation to the campaign, I still had some funds from a small insurance policy through where Gayle and I worked which allowed me to do this and make the donation in her name. While driving home I had put in a CD of Gayle’s favourite songs one of which is called Stolen Child by the Waterboys, by the time I arrived home I was in tears. I have attached a link to the song, listen to the lyrics and you will see why.

Gayle Lynn Fuller (1956 – 2003)


My stepson Erik, Gayles son, has had his fair share of dealings with this insideous disease. Upon returning from a stint with Canada World Youth he was faced with his mother's diagnosis as well as his father being hit by throat cancer. While the outcome for his father went well it unfortunately did not with his mother. Erik has moved forward in life graduating from the RCMP earlier this year as well as marrying his long time girlfriend shortly thereafter.

Erik Wedholm and Jennifer Boos (now Wedlolm) at Erik’s graduation from RCMP Training, March 2003



Gord & Erik at Graduation from RCMP Training

It was my distinct pleasure to sit with Constable Cameron Thompson, his wife Anne and their two children at the Red Blue Serge dinner and I look forward to getting to know the family better. The commitment of all of the riders, their support staff and the many others who raise funds in towns and cities throughout the Tour is to be commended and I would encourage anyone who is able to donate to this worthy cause. While the Tour has recently ended you can still donate by clicking here.

Letters to the Editor (part five)

The following are some of my letters to the editor over the past couple years. I have found, since submitting my first many years ago, that this is a means, one widely read, to express an opinion on events in the city and realms further afield. I fully encourage people to write letters to the editors of what some fondly consider our local rags, though don’t be surprised when they appear and are edited by the paper. In one letter I submitted the editor changed one word, eliminated one sentence and totally changed the context of what I was saying.

2007
Re: Harewood resident opposes firehall location
Once again we have another Harewood resident, Paul Walton, espousing why the Harewood Fire Hall was inappropriate for use by the 7-10 Club. I have a question for all those who deemed it an inappropriate location; did you ever come down and take a look at the service, sit down and talk to the people using it? My guess is no. If you had you would have seen that by far the majority of people using the service are simply Families Individuals and even Students who cannot make ends meet through government subsidies or low paying employment. You would have seen people that for the most part are your neighbours, currently living quietly amongst you, in Harewood and surrounding neighbourhoods and that the space in the Fire Hall was actually larger than that used at St. Peters .
Most of the outcry against the service moving to the Fire Hall was put out by a few people spreading doom and gloom propaganda to the larger masses of Harewood. Was NYMBYism involved, most certainly? Amanda Young, a local teacher, at least had the courage to state publicly that no matter what the 7-10 Club did she would never support its relocation to the Fire Hall, Jack Tielman put together a Web BLOG that was full of misinformation and postings bordering on hatred of the poor, usually anonymous. Again had either one visited the service, NO?
The vast majority of people in Harewood are by no means NIMBY’s, sadly they are being coloured by the minority who had no qualms about spreading false information.
Oddly enough this is exactly what happened to the 7-10 Club, the view of the many being influenced by the actions of but a few.

Re: handing out crack kits
I am greatly confused with regard to the rational of handing out Crack Kits to addicts. After much research on the inter-web I have been unable to find any concrete studies on the transmition incidence of HIV and Hepatitis C through the shared use of crack pipes or evidence supporting the harm reduction aspect of these kits.

What I have found is that one supposed reason for handing these kits out is the wish to reduce the intravenous use of crack and the higher risk of the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C through the shared use of needles. If this is the case then it seriously puts into question the very efficacy of needle exchange programs. The problem is, there is a dearth of evidence that suggests needle exchanges have had a significant effect on the reduction of HIV and Hepatitis C.

Rather than handing out free crack kits on the streets, which may have the effect of drawing on the curiosity of youth to obtain such followed by the logical outcome of then trying them out, a greater focus should be made towards the awareness of existing needle exchange programs. If one still insists on handing out crack pipes then let it be done through these existing programs, not in the middle of residential neighbourhoods. .

VIHA’s behaviour in all of this is questionable to say the least. To not involve City Council, local residents & businesses, in there decision to hand out free crack kits and now removing vehicle identification in hopes of continuing the handout surreptitiously leads one to seriously question their motives.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Writing Letters to the Editor

I am always encouraging people to write letters to the editor of our local papers if they have a particular issue or story they want to comment on. There are a few things you need to know when doing this.
  • Keep it consise, trying not to have more than 200 words
  • Don't make comments that could be considered slanderous
  • Expect your letter to be edited (see below for an example)
  • Don't take edits personally. Sometimes they can change the whole context of what you are trying to say and in that case let the editor know how you feel. The Daily News once edited one of mine, removing one sentence and changing one word, totally changed the context.
  • Don't expect every letter you send to be printed. While I have had litterally hundreds of letters printed over the years many have not been.
  • Don't expect the various newspapers to edit your letter in the same way. Each will do as they do and it can be amusing to see what they remove or how they rephrase a letter.
  • Finally HAVE FUN with it. Yes letter writing can be a serious endeavour but a little humour or sarcasm can make for enjoyable reading.

AS SENT:
Re: Canadian Federation of University Women

The only mistake the Nanaimo Chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) has made is to call their public meeting an All Candidates event. More appropriately it would have been better to call the event a meet & greet, for potential female candidates running for office, something no different than other organizations have done in the past.

In 2005 Friends of Plan Nanaimo held a number of gatherings throughout the city for the candidates they were endorsing, if other candidates showed up they to were allowed to speak and field questions from the Audience. The Builders Association routinely invites a few chosen candidates, usually a number of incumbents with specific others, who would support their agenda. There is nothing wrong with this.

Personally, knowing some of the members of the CFUW, I am confident they would not encourage voting for a person simply because of gender. These are well educated women, involved in the community, and as such I am sure would advocate their members, other women as well, to vote for candidates based on community participation and awareness of issues that face the community.

I hope to see more women getting involved but also my hope is that more of the so-called visible minority population does so as well. First Nations are the perfect example of this. While they comprise a large percentage of the population there is no formal representation on council. The sad fact also being that if they live on reserve they cannot even vote municipally. Good on you CFUW and anyone else who will actively encourage people to take part in the upcoming election, especially in doing so encouraging people to get out and vote? As a candidate for City Council I plan to attend as I see it as an excellent opportunity to further my own education.

AS PUBLISHED:
Nanaimo Bulletin Sept 30, 2008

Specific candidate meetings not unusual
To the Editor,
Re: Women only undemocratic, Sept. 23.
The only mistake the Nanaimo Chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women made is to not call their public meeting a meet and greet, for potential female candidates running for office – something no different than other organizations have done in the past.

In 2005, Friends of Plan Nanaimo held a number of gatherings throughout the city for the candidates they were endorsing. If other candidates showed up, they to were allowed to speak and field questions from the audience.

The builders’ association routinely invites a few chosen candidates, usually a number of incumbents with specific others, who would support their agenda.

There is nothing wrong with this.

Knowing some CFUW members, I am confident they would not encourage voting for a person simply because of gender. These are well educated women, involved in the community, and as such, would advocate their members, and other women as well, to vote for candidates based on community participation and awareness of issues that face the community.

Good on CFUW and anyone else who actively encourages people to take part in the upcoming election.
Especially if doing so encourages people to get out and vote.

Gordon Fuller
Nanaimo


Nanaimo Bulletin
editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Dailey News
letters@nanaimodailynews.com

Harbour City Star
star@nanaimodailynews.com

Friday, October 3, 2008

VOTING IN THE MUNICIPAL ELECTION

First-past-the-post system: This is the system we use in Nanaimo for Municipal elections and refers to the basis on which votes are counted in order to determine who is elected. A first-past-the-post system is one where ballots are not valid unless they have been marked by the voter to indicate the candidate(s) that the voter wishes to have elected. No more candidates can be indicated than the number of vacancies to be filled.

Often voters think that because there are eight positions for City Council they need to pick eight names from the list of candidates. This is not true and can ultimately cause those you want to see elected to lose (see Plumping).

Counting of the Votes: Where there are multiple council positions, 8 in Nanaimo, to be filled, the votes on each ballot are counted as being of equal value to each other. Even though a voter might have a distinct order of preference among the candidates there is no mechanism for such preferences to be shown on the ballot.

Candidates are elected consecutively according to who receives the largest number of votes. There is no pre-determined percentage of the overall vote required to be gained before a candidate is elected so a candidate can be elected with a very much smaller percentage of the vote than under any other electoral system.

Plumping: Plumping allows voters to vote for fewer than the number of candidates to be elected. It permits voters to concentrate their voting power on those they support, rather than being constrained to also vote for those they oppose. Rather than voting for all eight council positions a voter can chose to vote for simply one, two or more if they wish.

Prepared by Gordon Fuller – October 3rd, 2008