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Friday, May 28, 2010

Starvation Army Reprise

The Salvation Army is at it again. An organization/church with assets and money, Billions of dollars, equal to or if not more than the Catholic Church is once again crying poverty.

The following stories have been put out this week by the Nanaimo Bulletin and Daily News. Following these are some comments I made at the request of the editor of the bulletin who saw my comment "There is more to this than is being said, some investigative journalism is in order," to the Daily News story and wanted elaboration. These comments/elaboration were also sent to the Daily News.

There is a lot of info here but I encourage reading it all. Then I also engourag writing the BC Divisional Office to express your disgust.
Major Brian Venables - Divisional Secretary for Public Relations and DevelopmentBritish Columbia Division
Address:The Salvation Army 3833 Henning Drive, Burnaby BC V5C 6N5
Phone: (604)296-3821Fax: (604)291-0345 Cell: (778)227-7291
E-mail: ...

Sally Ann meal programs in jeopardy I have put the full text to this link in because my experience has shhown that after a period of time links to past Bulletin stories do not work

By Rachel Stern - Nanaimo News BulletinPublished: May 23, 2010 2:00 PM
The Salvation Army is seeking help from the community to continue its meal programs.
The organization is losing $250,000 a year and is exploring options to cut costs or get more funding. “We cannot continue to lose money,” said Rob Anderson, Salvation Army director of Nanaimo community ministries. The Salvation Army wants to create a volunteer task force to examine the meal program, how it is delivered and how to save money.

The organization recently put a call out to members of the Nanaimo Working Group on Homelessness, of which the Salvation Army is a member, for help. While the church also operates a shelter and thrift stores, the lunch and dinner programs are the only areas to find savings, Anderson said. “It’s gotten to the point where we can’t go it alone anymore,” he said.

The problems the religious organization is facing is increasing in demand – 200 to 250 people were sitting down for the lunch program on average last fall – and increasing overhead costs.
The kitchen employees are unionized, so the Salvation Army can’t bring in volunteers to cut costs. “It ties our hands on what we can do,” said Anderson.

The Salvation Army’s operating budget for the year is $3.8 million. It receives about $700,000 in provincial and federal funding, while remaining $3 million must be fundraised. The New Hope Centre takes about $1.1 million to operate and the meal program costs about $500,000 a year. On average it serves about 6,500 to 7,000 meals each month – about 3,000 of those meals are given out for free.

Gord Fuller, a member of the working group and chairman of the 7-10 Club Society, said a clear accounting of the programs is needed. “We would like to get the breakdown on exactly why it’s not working,” said Fuller, about the Salvation Army’s meal programs. “They have the money in place, so why can’t they?”

Fuller said the 7-10 Club spends about $110,000 a year on its breakfast and lunch programs, serving an average of 125 bagged lunches a day. It also pays its kitchen staff to prepare the food. Unlike the Salvation Army, it doesn’t charge for any meals. The Society is also looking to partner with community organizations to get volunteer help on weekends to offer service seven days a week. Fuller said he might be interested in joining the task force to help the Salvation Army, if it clearly presents where the money is going.

Anderson said the meal program will not be cancelled, but the organization needs to be proactive. Cancelling the meal programs would hit the community hard, Fuller said.
“In the event that it does close, it will be devastating,” he said. “Who will pick this up?”
Anderson asks any community group willing to help or be on the task force to contact the Salvation Army at 250-754-2621.

Daily News
Budget crunch may end free meals
Even the headline is wrong in this story, lunch at the Sally cost $1.00 and Dinner $2.00.

Opinion: Salvation Army now needs our support
Seems to me they already get it to the tune of millions of dollars and food donations from the community.

Points to Ponder

Lets start with the easy ones first. Volunteers not aloud because of union? I would want to see the contract with the union and where it states such. They have and still do use volunteers. I am sure if both the Daily News and the Bulletin were to check their archives they would find stories re this and if someone were to go to the S/A they would see volunteers.

250 - 300 people accessing meal program. When they started charging for dinner their numbers dropped to 70. From what I here they are no more than that for dinner. Lunch numbers, prior to the $1.00 charge, were around 125, this told to me by Rob Anderson. Since the charge the numbers have dropped significantly. During the penny campiagn the numbers counted were around the 70 range. This could be easily determined by having someone count the people going in.

Budget of meal programs. Reported to Bulletin $500,000, reported to Daily News $400,000. Why is the budget so high? How much does charging for meals bring in? They get the lions share of donations from the community in both money and food, much of the latter going to the meal programs. How much of a savings to the overall cost is this? When they talk budget are the estimated cost of food donations factored into the overall cost.

Union wages; When I spoke to Rob Anderson and asked him what the staff were being paid the largest wage was a little over $12.00hr. The 7-10 Club pays its cook $15.00hr and it is not union. They do not have that many staff at the S/A meal program so what is the total in wages.

Did they really lay off staff?

"The Salvation Army’s operating budget for the year is $3.8 million" "The New Hope Centre takes about $1.1 million to operate and the meal program costs about $500,000 " from Bulletin.
Cost of New Hope and Meal Program 1.6 million. Where does the other 2.2 million come in? Where does the $250,000 shortfall fit into all this?

Nowhere do they mention the Meal programs as being a losing proposition just that it would be the easiest to cut. How much was raised by the Kettle Campaign, Monies to go directly to community programs? How much is raised in their Thrift Stores and where does this money go? How much money is raised throughout the year fundraising in Nanaimo? Perhaps the biggest question is How much of what is raised in Nanaimo actually stays in Nanaimo?

It receives about $700,000 in provincial and federal funding. On top of this they are housing federal parolee's in the transitional Housing, Housing that should have gone to local or homeless individuals. We know they charge far more for the parollees than they would get from someone on income assistance. How much?

How can they afford to open a 3rd store if they are running a $250,000 deficit? Are they really running a deficit?

From the Daily News
"While unpleasant, Anderson said the meal program is the most logical program to cut because other community groups can step in to provide a similar service.”It's the one program that takes very little capital to replace.” It’s the one program that takes very little capital to replace. There's more of a chance that a meal program can come from other organizations rather than the capital expense of a facility like the New Hope Centre,"

This is already a service funded by the community. The Salvation Army is mandated by the Community and the communities donations to the program to provide the service. It would not be easy for another group to take on. The 7-10 Club, offering a FREE breakfast and bag lucnh, struggles every year to raise enough to keep its program going and runs on less than a quarter of the funding the S/A receives. It would most certainly take a lot of capitol to replace, that statement is simply ludicrous.

As for the Capital expense of the New Hope, it cost the Sally nothing as over 3.5 million in federal and provincial monies went towards the new building as well as renovating the kitchen and office spaces in the old. Now the costs are Hydro etc and my guess is that because the Sally is a religious organization, they say they are a non-profit when it suits them to do so, they don't even pay taxes. Since opening, the New Hope have cancelled the drop in, devoted most of the transitional units to parolees at the expense of Nanaimo's Homeless and now they talk about shutting down the meal program or even the facility as a whole.

"We've been told by the Salvation Army's district headquarters that unless we can balance our budget, we may have no choice in where the cuts will be made." Was this same statement made to Rachel? Pretty heavy statement and one you would think he would mention.

It really pisses me off when I see the misinformation being put out by the S/A. The 7-10 Club struggles to operate a free meal program and serves just as many people as the S/A for less than a quarter of their budget. For them to state that it would be easy for another group to take this on just aggravates me to the nth degree.

I personally believe that they ultimately want to shut the meal program down and bring in programs where they actually make money. A full audit of all their programs costs etc. will be the only way to find out the real costs.

A letter to press from another fine activist Wallace Malay:

Dear Editor, Not only is Rob Anderson giving false and misleading info in your article, but you as well. They are not free meals at the Sally Ann. So I know that you are all leading busy lives, and well news just is not what it use to be (unbiased). Get your facts right. The Gospel according to Rob Anderson ( Salvation Army) is at best untrue in many aspects. That this breaking news comes after many in the community are gathering to work on food security and in supporting that the 7-10 location to be opened on Saturday and Sunday's to provide for those who cannot afford to pay for their meals. Also the amount of people that the S.A. says it serves is false.They receive money for their Emergency Shelter, money for clients in the Transitional Housing. Kettle Campaign money, money from not one Thrift Store, but from three as they just opened another. Individual and corporate sponsor of meals. Food donations from many businesses and individuals,etc.Now if the media in our fair city would like to organize an open public forum to address the need to feed our hungry. That Mr. Anderson be present as well as John Horn, then let us just see what is truth and what is fiction. I doubt you will print this, no matter. The word is out and will gather in momentum.

Wallace Malay

Nanaimo, B.C.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

On Empire, HST, VICC and Affordable/Social Housing

Empire days letters
May 19, 2010
Empire Days opposition is insulting, ridiculous
At least she doesn’t call him a professional activist.
Changing events name will create opportunities

May 20, 2010
Time to bring an end to the use of term 'Empire"

Good outline of the process and what could happen.
May 20, 2010
HST: is the Recall Act designed to fail?

Conference Centre
Ya gotta read this.
Philip Wolf: Vicc gets some press

Affordable Housing
Have been discussing affordable housing with a number of people lately and usually what comes up is how one defines it. I came up, literally, with these two definitions that I think put it quite succinctly.

Affordable Housing:

Housing, whether purchased or rented, that cost no more than 30% of a person or families monthly gross income.


Housing, whether purchased or rented, that is supported by Municipal/Provincial/Federal subsidies and cost no more than 30% of a person or families monthly gross income.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Empire Days 2010

And so it begins yet again. This year it will be a far more low key response on the part of those involved. It is really hoped that we can make some progress, progress that will make this a truly inclusive celebration of COMMUNITY.

The PPM got the ball rolling with Simon Schachner sending the following off to the papers and the Empire Days Society. A story came out in the Daily News today Funding trumps protest as threat to Empire Days and my letter in response appears after Simons.

May 12, 2010

Dear Nanaimo Empire Days Celebration Society,

On behalf of the Popular Participation Movement, I would like to acknowledge allthe hard work your committee and volunteers have done to make the festivities ofEmpire Days possible. Having attended the event for many years, I can attest tothe spirit that the parade brings out in our community. Nanaimo is indeed a cityworth celebrating.

Still, many in our community are uneasy with the society's continued emphasison the British Empire at the heart of the festivities. We hope you can appreciatethat this criticism is not radical. In fact, it is consistent with what the British havebelieved for over 50 years. Recognizing that Empire Days does not reflect theplurality of history, the United Kingdom abolished Empire Days in 1958 in favourof a more inclusive event: Commonwealth Days. We hope for a similar changeto come to Nanaimo.

It's difficult to understand why the celebration society would object to a change inname that is more respectful of our history and diversity. After all, the societywas founded as an organization committed to the "heritage of Nanaimo and thefuture of its young people." Given that we are a growing, evolving community ofmany origins and histories, Empire Days is simply out of touch with the truth.

As our annual efforts to raise public awareness of this issue have been rather effective, we are not planning a counter-event or any such interventions this year. We hope that the society will have the courage to respond to the community’sconcerns and transform the name and focus of Empire Days into something respectful of the experiences of all people of Nanaimo.

I would like to meet with you to discuss this matter further. Members our groupwill gladly assist with an effort to develop a more inclusive direction for thesociety. We appreciate that this is your busiest time of year. We will not betroubled if a meeting has to wait until June.

Please do not hesitate to contact me at your earliest convenience.
Simon Schachner, Organizer
Popular Participation Movement

May 14, 2010
To the Editor:

Re: Funding trumps protest as threat to Empire Days

The whole point this year is not to get into a war on words with the Empire Days Society but to sit down and have a rational discussion. While the PPM has been vocal the last five years organizations like the Multicultural Society and people like me have been pushing for a change of name for much longer. This will be my only letter on the subject this year.

We all realize the hard work the Empire Days Society and Lions Clubs do to arrange the events and parade each year, we honestly commend them for their efforts. The point is all this could still be accomplished with less controversy, and stigma attached to it, under a different name.

As an Advocate for Social Change and Community Activist I am the first to agree that cuts to gaming grants have had a negative effect throughout the non-profit sector and there is no absolute guarantee, as yet, that even with a change of government the monies lost will be reinstated.

Personally I see an opportunity here. If we look at these events as a celebration of COMMUNITY, not Empire, then something as little as a name change could result in bringing the very people opposed to the table in helping organize and raise funds in the future. While I can’t speak for the others I for one would be willing to make that commitment. Let us truly celebrate community through inclusiveness.
Gordon W. Fuller
604 Nicol St Nanaimo, BC V9R 4T9 Ph: (250) 754 6389
Cell: 797 0531 e-mail:

Housing Legacy Fund/Affordable Housing

A recent story City considers large residential development in Hammond Bay regarding a proposed development in Hammond Bay prompted me to send this letter off.

As sent May 13, 2010:

Re: City considers large residential development in Hammond Bay
Not only should the proponents for the development of 231 units on Hammond Bay road be contributing parkland they should be contributing at least 10% of the units, or the equivalent in cash, towards affordable social housing or the city’s Housing Legacy Reserve. This is not to single out this development per se but should be a City requirement for any development of significance requiring rezoning within the Urban Containment Boundary. Oceanview and Sandstone, with a combined 5000 units, are two others of note.

The city of Nanaimo 's Housing Legacy Reserve, with an expected $165,000 increase in each of the next five years, is a joke and it would take over a century at the current rate to be of any significance. Over 50% of homeowners and renters in Nanaimo are paying at least half or more of their gross income towards housing, anything more than 30% is considered an indicator of poverty as also is a person or families income level. Using these indicators Nanaimo ’s poverty level is well above average, roughly 50% of the population, and to top that off it also has one of the highest unemployment rates in the province.

Numbers like these show the growing need for affordable accommodation in Nanaimo . Other Cities in BC and across Canada have bylaws requiring contributions such as the above. It is time this city entered the 21st century and did so as well.

Daily News; May 14, 2010
Growing need in city for more affordable housing

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

HST Update

Some of the latest news in the Nanaimo Area and at the end a few websites, perhaps the best of which is the last .

Nanaimo News Bulletin

April 28
20 ridings to threshold

May 7
Anti-HST petition tops 300,000 sognatures

May 11
Mid Island Ridings all above anti-hst threshold

Anti-HST petition sites, updated daily, can be found at

Say No to the HST

Fight the HST