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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

City Staff Wages

The letter to the editor below should give one pause to think. Have also added links to the storys it was in response to. I am of the belief that we need to pay fair wages but if Jim Taylor is correct in his letter then we really do need a core review in Nanaimo.

Review of city salaries is absolutely necessary
News Articles
Review would determine if salaries justified
Top city staffers earn more than 175k per year

Referendum reversal

Letter to editor below from Ron Bolin re the reversal of the referendum. Ron is well known for his letters which dig for and present the facts. Lately he has been getting a tad bit more descriptive, coming from the heart, and put out some pretty good stuff.

Reversing referendum sign of weak council

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Treatment Plant bullshit

In one of the most asinine decisions Nanaimo City council has made, the convention centre ranks right up there, a majority of council chose to reverse the decision for a referendum on borrowing millions for its proposed water treatment plant in favour of a process that is almost guaranteed to ensure their wish that the city go further in hock to money lenders than it already is.

For those who are unaware the process chosen is the Alternate Approval Process, a process where if you do not specifically vote no you are deemed to be voting yes. In order for a no vote to win 10% of voters, approx. 6600, must vote no. This is by means no easy task as it takes a huge commitment of time and energy and volunteers to collect that many signatures. A referendum on the other hand is won by a simple majority of those choosing to vote, those that don't so choose simply do not count.

Councillor Holdom and Mayor Ruttan keep reiterating that because we are being mandated to build the plant then we need to move forward with this. What they are not saying is that a referendum would in no way impact the building of the plant just how we go about accessing the money to do so.

After the news stories and letters below I have included a link to the council meeting. Unfortunately a fair part of my comment during question period was cut off when SHAW stopped recording. To hear my comment scroll to the end and then back a couple of minutes.

June 28, 2011
Daily News
Loan referendum on Nanaimo water plant reversed

Paul Walton: VIHAs the risk not our water

Let citizens decide on borrowing in referendum

Risks to life and limb are costing taxpayers a lot

Council meeting Video.

Monday, June 27, 2011

HST Referendum

The time for the referendum on the Harmonized Sales Tax draws closer and soon folk will have to make a choice. All I know is that for me this tax seems to have taken any disposable income, which I have always had little, and leaves me living paycheck to paycheck. For lower income folk the rebate might be enticing but think about it, when has the government, any government given back more than you paid. Yes for people on Income assistance this might be true, but for the vast majority it isn't.

This pretty much says it as to where I stand.

Have added a pile of links to news stories and letters below.

Letter D/N
June 25
HST will not help business create jobs

June 11
HST forums wrap up in Nanaimo
Scroll down in the story and you will notice links to other HST related storeys.

June 7
BC Government risks backlash from HST ads

The following links are from a simple search, HST Nanaimo, on
For any of the news storeys copy and paste the title into Google and click on the result that has daily news in the URL, that way you will get to see the comments made on the story.

The HST will cost us plenty if it is rescinded

Vote call should have frozen HST rebate

High-profile ads are used to push B.C. HST plan

Liberal's HST 'bribe' isn't fooling anyone

More questions than answers about the HST

Use head, not heart to vote

Common sense can be dictated by dollars

Restaurant owners claim the HST is hurting business

HST helps big and small business

Consumption tax beats income tax every time

Get rid of the Liberals along with the HST

Nanaimo posties still on picket line

Developers say the HST causing construction dip
Taxes are the price we pay for civilized society

HST is a beneficial and modern tax policy

Seniors weigh pros and cons of HST

HST forces 'little guys' to bail out B.C. business

Misinformation clouds tax issue

Friday, June 24, 2011

More on Water Treatment in Nanaimo

More links to storys and letters below as well as to the City of Nanaimo's Water information page. Just sent the following letter to the editor in;

Okay, so it would appear that the City of Nanaimo will likely be forced by VIHA, a.k.a. the province, to move forward with a Water Treatment facility. If in fact this is a given, and it is provincially mandated, then shouldn't the Province contribute at a minimum one third of the costs?

Despite what Councillor Holdom and Mayor Ruttan say, a referendum on the long term borrowing of over 20 million dollars by the taxpayers of Nanaimo is necessary and steamrolling borrowing through by the Alternate Approval process is not an option. Why is a referendum necessary? For the simple fact that it gives all voting citizens the right to choose if borrowing is the best way to pay for the treatment plant.

Reserve funds in City coffers certainly exist and if also taken from other department streams should be able to pay for this without borrowing. Instead of putting 16 million to a new City Hall Annex, used by a few hundred employees, put that money towards the treatment plant which serves our over 80,000 citizens.

The point I am trying to make is let the citizens decide through referendum whether we borrow. If they say no then look at other options and get it done. After all 60,000 voters must carry some weight with the provincial and federal government and they would certainly carry weight municipally.

Letters D/N:

Dr. Murray Fyfe, The Daily News
Published: Friday, June 24, 2011
Water quality rules apply to entire province

By Dan Appell, The Daily News June 23, 2011
First save the money then build the plant


The Daily News
Published: Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Water project referendum is just absurd

News Storys:

Council must comply with regulations
Derek Spalding, The Daily News
Published: Friday, June 24, 2011
Nanaimo drinking water may not be as safe as people think

Pair absent from decision to approve public vote on borrowing $22.5 million want to reconsider decision
Derek Spalding, The Daily News
Published: Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Councillor condemns water referendum as nonsensical

Water treatment plant makes up biggest chunk of Nanaimo's construction costs

By Derek Spalding, The Daily News June 21, 2011
New buildings will cost city 85 million
This story seems to be inaccessible through the daily news website so any comments made cannot be seem.

City of Nanaimo – Water Treatment info

Monday, June 20, 2011

Water Treatment: To Be or Not To Be

Letters and newspaper storys regarding the Water Treatment Plant and upcoming referendum during the municipal election in November.

The biggest question is do we really need a 65 Million Dollar Water Treatment Plant? Also what would VIHA really do if the city decided not to build one? If VIHA revokes the city's water permit would that mean the City no longer can provide water to its citizens? I personally think not and council should have the cohones to say NO and accept the consequences.

Another pertinent issue in this is why did the Feds and Province not commit to a three way split on the costs and how can we get them to do so if we go forward with the project.

I belong to a group called Vancouver Island Water Watch Coalition and will endeavour to gather more information.

Couple comments of mine below in red.


Ron Bolin, The Daily News
Published: Friday, June 17, 2011
Council was right to choose referendum

Gordon W. Fuller, The Daily News
Published: Saturday, June 18, 2011
People need answers about treatment plant

Gary Joseph Chandler, The Daily News
Published: Saturday, June 18, 2011
Pay for water plant now, not in future

Don’t really know what to make of this one. On the one hand it seems like he is for the borrowing and then states he will be voting no to the borrowing.


Derek Spalding, The Daily News
Published: Thursday, June 16, 2011
Not borrowing for water plan will mean much higher rates

Derek Spalding, The Daily News
Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Health authority is forcing the city to upgrade water treatment; council must decide how to pay for it
Voters will decide on $22.5million loan for new water plant


The Daily News
Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Water project referendum not necessary


By Toby Gorman - Nanaimo News BulletinPublished: June 14, 2011 5:00 PM
Nanaimo plans referendum on 22.5 million loan for water treatment facility

Toby Gorman - Nanaimo News BulletinPublished: June 18, 2011 6:00 AM
More expensive projects loom for Nanaimo

An interesting story considering Oliver Woods Community Centre, briefly mentioned, is just a couple years old. If I recall correctly it has already had to have some deficiencies with leaky windows dealt with.

Published: June 16, 2011 8:00 AM
Editorial: City spending need thought

Friday, June 17, 2011

Referendum: Borrowing to build Water Treatment Facility

This issue just cropped up at a recent council meeting. Originally City Staff wanted to use the Alternative Approval Process; 10% of voters, over 6000, would have to vote against the borrowing in order for it to be defeated. This process sucks as even if one were not to vote either way it would be assumed as a vote for.

Fortunately council voted in favour of sending it to Referendum: simple majority of those voting on the issue determines whether the City borrows tyhe money or not.

Sent the following letter today:

I really have to question not only the rationale of borrowing money for but of the water treatment plant itself. Do we really need this plant; is a water treatment plant really the only option? Is it in fact a necessary piece of infrastructure? Is the city only proposing the building of a water treatment plant because the Vancouver Island Health Authority has told us we must?

How many other cities have been TOLD to build water treatment plants by VIHA and how many of these are complying? In the last 10 or 20 years how many water advisory notices have gone out to residents of the City of Nanaimo and how many of these have been boil water advisories?

If these plants are so necessary then why are higher levels of government not funding the total package instead of expecting the citizens of Nanaimo to come up with 73% of the cost? What is the penalty if we do not follow the mandate of VIHA?

I will readily admit to being an activist but ‘Cranky’ I think not. I believe there are many questions that need answers. I also believe the taxpayers of Nanaimo deserve straight answers to these questions and not the bafflegab we are used to getting from the powers that be.

Re: Just plain nasty

I sent the following letter to the editor off regarding the letter linked to in Just Plain Nasty. It has not been published which surprises me. Perhaps because it has actual information in it and maybe the press do not want to have people know more regarding Nanaimo's Homeless Strategy. This way they can continue to have the Hosuing issue remain contentious so that it is news worthy.

June 11, 2011

Initially on reading Larry Mashinter’s recent letter to the editor, Using tax money to give homeless comfort wrong, I thought to address his ludicrous comment stating the homeless and those with addiction are vermin. Given more thought I realized that some comments do not dignify a response and so will leave that one to public opinion alone. What I will do is give Mr Mashinter credit in that he did, despite his asinine comment, use his real name; at least I am assuming the newspaper did establish that as a fact.

I do want to briefly address his concerns on costs. It has been a well researched and established fact that it actually costs less to house the homeless than not. While initial expenses towards housing may be expensive the savings over the long run far outweigh the costs of the status quo. If you, the reader, are at all interested I have included the following three studies that can be easily found on the internet.

Housing and Support for Adults with Severe Addictions and/or Mental Illness in British Columbia ; Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University , February 2008.
(CARHMA study)

Calgary Homeless Foundation Report on the Cost of Homelessness in
the City of Calgary ; RSM Richter & Associates Inc. Business Valuations & Litigation Support Calgary, January, 2008.
(Calgary study)

The Costs of Homelessness in British Columbia ; Province of British Columbia, 2001

(Cost of Homelessness BC)

Just found this one when getting links for above Homelessness-costs-BC-taxpayers-1-billion-a-year

Friday, June 10, 2011

Just plain nasty

I had to put the following letter in here simply because of its sheer nastiness. I will however give him credit for using his real name, at least I am assuming so.

Using tax money to give homeless comfort wrong

Putting aside Mashinter's reference to the homeless as vermin I will however touch very briefly on his comments about costs of housing the homeless. This link, , will take you to a page where you can access a couple of studies that show there is actually a savings to the taxpayer by housing the homeless.

"It costs $55,000 a year to leave a homeless person on the streetcompared to only $37,000 a year to provide housing with support services- Calgary study and Carmha study."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Correction, Sort Of

As pointed out in a brief letter to the editor in the todays Nanaimo Daily News Housing project 18 units, not 10 as letter claimed , the Building that was built on 10th St. is 18 units. T'wasn't that I had misinformation in my letter to the editor it was simply that the information I had posted was cut and pasted from the MOU and there have been some changes. Changes also include,as noted in my earlier post, those of the Hillside and Townsite (Dufferin) developments.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Supportive Housing Bowen Rd.

News Stories:
June 3
Still playing the blame game
June 1
City council voted to postpone controversial housing
May 31
Council delays controversial social housing project

Couple Recent Letters:
June 3
Social housing for north end not likely

June 6 (Me)
Housing facts may lift some of the confusion

The following is long but hopefully helpful.

Supportive Social Housing Redux:

Alrighty then. So on May 30th a motion was made by Councillor Bill Holdom to approve the rezoning of the proposed Supportive Housing location on Bowen Rd. but put any development on hold until the others have been built and the need for more is determined. Also the property could be sold. Once moved and seconded the motion passed with only Councillors Bestwick and Sherry dissenting.

This, in my personal opinion, was a good move on the part of council and close to what I had proposed, that of approving the rezoning and selling the property then purchasing one or two others in other locations for Supportive Social Housing. The added benefit is that there will be a cooling down period and an opportunity, providing council and staff take it and the community is willing to get involved, to get some real information out and have some meaningful communication.

A lack of communication and too much misinformation, on both sides, has been part of the problem with the process for creating supportive social housing in Nanaimo. Much of the misinformation came out in the over 12 hours of public hearings spanning 4 nights Public Hearing submissions , not to mention numerous news stories and letters to the editor.

To add to that fear has been used and spread by those initially opposed to galvanize the greater community. Talk of pedophiles, criminal activity, prostitution and increased activity by drug dealers has taken away from the original intent of providing this housing for the homeless in our community.

Street drug use, crack/crystal meth was predominantly mentioned as a concern by those opposed, very seldom was alcohol the topic of discussion. It did come out at the public hearing that the Hospital/Bowen area already sees the drug trade on their streets as do most areas of Nanaimo. The reality is most crack cocaine and crystal meth users want nothing to do with any level of supervision and will not access housing where they know that supervision exists. Most are ambivalent about their drug use and have housing, of a sort, already.

This said, when one does start to contemplate change and a wish to remove their selves from the street drug culture this housing will be in place to provide safety and if needed referrals and help accessing detox and treatment programs. The people the low barrier supportive units will help out the most, potentially saving lives, would be the street entrenched individuals with alcohol addictions.

Focusing on the misnomer of ‘Wet Housing’ has muddied the original intent and uses suggested for all the proposed sites. ‘Wet Housing’ has been attached by the community to all the proposed housing when in fact only two of the original housing locations were proposed as Low Barrier. Low barrier simply means that there would be no conditions attached to getting into the housing.

In an effort to provide some information and if one actually reads the Memorandum of Understanding, wonder how many folk have, it outlines a few important things folk should know. For those not willing or too lazy to read the whole thing below offers some guidance towards sections and content pertinent;

Sec 1 - last sentence
Sec 3 - last paragraph
Sec 4 - last three sentences
Sec 8
Sec 10
(my comment - implies not all units will be supportive)
Sec 26 (my comment - would give this one a fail on the part of all involved)

The (MOU) between the Province and the City of Nanaimo commits to the construction of up to 160 units of new supportive housing on five sites. The total number of units is approximate and is likely to change through the design and development process.

For all sites, the Province will arrange for funding to build and operate the buildings. The City will lease its sites to non-profit partners (to be selected through a proposal call over the next few months) at a nominal cost, and the City will exempt all the developments from property taxes as long as the Province continues to provide operating subsidies.

1598 Townsite Road (Dufferin)
Owned by the City and located immediately adjacent to the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Approximately 70 units of apartment-style housing are envisioned for the site.
Given the proximity to the hospital and associated services, this site may be suitable for tenants with mental health and addictions issues.
1402-1590 Bowen Road
Owned by the City and located northwest of downtown, these properties could accommodate commercial or service uses at ground level and apartment-style housing above.
The property provides multiple transportation options and could serve more independent tenants in about 30 units.
437-445 Wesley Road and 421 Franklyn Street
Owned by the City and located downtown, the site can support approximately 40 apartment-style units. Given the proximity of a range of services and resources, the development could be conducive to bachelor suites for homeless singles and those in need of higher levels of support services.
3515 Hillside Avenue
Owned by the Province, this property is the location of a group home.
A new home will be built next to it on the site. The tenants would then move into the new home, and the old home will be torn down and replaced with a new building. In total, 10 housing units will be created on the site.
477 10th Street
Owned by the Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre, this property will be developed into an innovative 10-unit housing development for youth and elders.

As can be seen by the above, only the Wesley and Dufferin sites would be considered low barrier. An unannounced, as yet, site in the North End is in response to cutting back the 70 units on Dufferin by half because of the objections of the neighbourhood.

It should also be noted that to the best of my knowledge the Hillside Avenue site has been withdrawn by the province. While not mentioned above the 10 units on this site would if I recall have been for couples or single parent families. Personally I hope to see this one resurface in the future.

Also the 10th street project changed from the proposed 10 to 18 units of housing for youth and elders.