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Sunday, October 30, 2011

And More

Oct 30
BC minimum wage to increase
This will be a huge benefit to lower income earners and while businesses are concerned about bottom line it will actually allow more disposable income to be spent in those businesses.

Oct 29
Majority of council oppose idea of delaying project
I have learned, after attending on a regular basis over the years, that one should assume nothing when it comes to council making a decision. While I hope that the majority of council stand fast on the housing on uplands they must also as a block agree not to second Bill Bestwick’s motion. If they do this then it will not even be up for discussion/debate.

Yes the communication for this and much f what the city does has not been the best but with a new council we can assure this changes. To put this on hold will be to take a step backwards and who knows whom this might help but who will die while waiting.

Morally they must move forward and once they have then and only then will we be able to look at the other aspects of Nanaimo’s Homeless strategy.

Parksville-Qualicum MLA in hospital after heart attack
I may not always, and of late more often than not, agree with Mr. Cantelon’s politics but I wish him no ill will and a speedy recovery.

Jobs creation emerges as key municipal election issue
Job creation in the city with one of the highest unemployment rates should be at the top of issues in this community but sadly is not. It is unfortunate that a few individuals through spreading fear and misinformation have galvanized so many people into making housing the homeless the real top issue.

Cale Cowan: Time for real discussion on 'wet' houses
Cale, I may not agree at all times with what is said but I do find balance in the editorials and opinions. This is a complex issue that unfortunately gets hijacked by a few to galvanize the many with fear and misinformation. Bottom line for me is I know the housing will save lives.

More updates in the news

Oct 28
Bestwick calls on council to delay housing plans for uplands

This site should move forward and if I in anyway thought that there would be a rampant increase in crime or threat to the area I would not be speaking so adamantly for this type of housing. This area like all in Nanaimo currently has issues with drugs and alcoholism, it is sad but a fact. The people accessing this type of housing will at a minimum be at least contemplating change. The housing is low-barrier, not NO barrier and if a tenant brings violence or criminal activity to the building they will be evicted.

It is unfortunate that communication has not gone as those opposing would have liked but it is more unfortunate that the style used has predominated in the City for years and not just on this issue. This does have to change and the means to do so are readily available.

Tenth street housing project not a problem for residents
This was one of the 5 original projects. Despite trying to get it out to those opposed to Supportive Housing only 2 were originally proposed as low-barrier and this was not one. It is low-barrier in a sense in that while in their apartments the tenants can do their thing; then again they can do the same in any residence in Nanaimo. That said and the same goes for the proposed low-barrier sites the are low not NO barrier. Violence and drug dealing will not be tolerated and folk can be evicted.

Social media an effective tool leading up to election

Efforts to save Linley nature park not high on city's priorities
We must save what we can of this area. It would be a priority on my list and should be on the city's as features like our great parks, trails and harbour front are what will attract people and tourism to the community. The money that is being spent on the City Hall Annex would have covered the purchase of this area as well as paid for upgrades to the current city annex and had a few million left over to pay down taxes.

Happiness can't be measured by money
TOO true.

Oct. 27

Costs of Occupy Nanaimo encampment begin to build
By the headline I was expecting to see these huge charges being incurred by the city. When weighed against ones right to FREEDOM of EXPRESSION these costs are minimal.

City staff members embrace social media
"We were one of the first com-munities in B.C. to grasp the fact that this opens a new way to dialogue with our citizens." If only they would use it to do so. This could be a great means of getting information out to people about public open houses and other opportunities to take part in municipal process.

Owner of motorcycle shop happy with progress at Balmoral property housing project
Most people do not get the fact that the proposed housing projects, through-out Nanaimo are Low-Barrier and not NO-Barrier. Nice to hear from a neighbour of the project, he was not always supportive.

Oct 26
Time for occupiers to negotiate with city
It is the constitutional right of all too peaceful political protest. The group is causing no harm and are actually contributing to the economy of the downtown core.

Was at the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association coffee meeting today and Occupy Nanaimo came up. There is nothing in the wind yet as to when they would like to see it end though it appears they would. I had a chance to speak, as a candidate in the upcoming municipal election, and stated that the powers that be should allow it to go on and if it ends up being the last in Canada then that would bring attention to Nanaimo and show it a caring City. I also mentioned that it is an economic driver in that many people are coming into the Downtown to see what it is about and that those people are als spending money in the Downtown. It actually caught the attention of a few as they now can look at the Occupancy as a benefit to Nanaimo. Keep up the good work everyone:)that would bring it to the attention to Nanaimo and show it as a caring city.

I also mentioned that it is an economic driver in that many people are coming into the Downtown to see what it is about and that those people are als spending money in the Downtown. It actually caught the attention of a few as they now can look at the Occupancy as a benefit to Nanaimo.I also mentioned that it is actually an economic driver in that it is bring more people into the downtown core and in turn they are spending money Downtown. My comment actually piqued the interest of a few because they had not looked at this positive aspect. They can now view the Occupy Nanaimo site as a benefitJ.

Bulletin Oct 20
Editorial: New avenues inform voters
Somehow missed this one; t’is absolutely true there are new avenues that should make it even easier for people to get informed about elections and participate on all levels. While not into the twitter aspect I do have a FaceBook group Elect Gordon Fuller to Nanaimo Council

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Oct 26
Nanaimo dragon boaters battle at AGM
Let folk become members and vote last year and didn't this year? I would want to check the Society's Constitution and bylaws on this one because if they cannot do this according to their bylaws those members that got in at the AGM last year’s should not have voted on anything and on the off chance someone just given membership was elected it was done illegally.
Explosive Lantzville land issue back before council
Will lay odds that the District of Lantzville Council will pass this one. It is sad relly because the issue has become personal. The bylaw proposed is flawed on counts, see my comments to story on 25th, and should be tabled until a new council is chose.

Oct 25

Lantzville Urban Farm bylaw is hotly debated
I went to this and despite being a Nanaimo Resident spoke to the fact that the bylaw is discriminatory. Those not wishing to farm can grow their own food and spread as much raw manure as they like where-as those looking to do small scale farming have to use composted manure. Only one non-resident would be able to work on these farms but yet the same does not apply to any other business and the list goes on.

The proposed bylaw is even more restrictive than Nanaimo's in that it states the land under cultivation for sale "shall not exceed the greater of 600 square metres or 30% of the parcel area." This is all well and good for lots under a quarter of an acre, 600square metres is roughly 15% of an acre, as for these lots the percentage would be far greater than 30% of parcel area. Many smaller lots could actually be entitled to utilize 100% of their properties.

For bigger lots of an acre or more the percentage drops to 15% or lower as the parcel areas grows. Even in Nanaimo lots larger than .6 of an acre can have 25% coverage and this percentage does not reduce as the lot size increase. One would think that in a largely rural area, with larger lot sizes, Lantzville’s bylaw would allow for greater growing area than that of a largely urban area like Nanaimo.

Bottom line; this once again discriminates against those with larger lot sizes. A fairer way of doing this would be to allow larger lots up to 75% for cultivation and sale. This is something I will be bringing up for Nanaimo’s bylaw once I am elected to council.

New CEO reveals ambitious strategy for Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation
“The plan is "very ambitious," according to Mayor John Ruttan.” Details John, details. Don’t get the rationale of the Conference Centre Kiosk. It is located in the dead-zone at the back of the Conference Centre and as for dispensing information about Nanaimo the joint is running at less than 3% capacity. This really aught to attract a lot of tourism, yes I am being sarcastic.

Opinion: Economic Development Plan a necessity
“Priorities addressed during the announcement Monday include finding a builder for a hotel to complement the downtown conference centre and luring a company to the city to run a foot passenger ferry service between downtown Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver. Plans include everything from attracting new investment to retaining and expanding local business, increasing tourism and generating jobs.” Wonder how much they are paying for the CEO position? All sounds a lot like what has been tried already and if this is the best they can come up with perhaps I should try and get that job and screw being a City Councilor.
Paul Walton: Money isn't only election issue
It is not about having the money in a vault it is about spending what we do have wisely and in so doing also choosing wisely the things to subsidize. It is about taking much of the excess in that vault and using it to pay down taxes rather than to build facilities that could be refurbished. It is about engaging the public in a real way on the choices we make.

Occupy Nanaimo protesters have no plans to leave downtown
The folks doing this should be proud no matter how long it lasts; they are a part of history in the making.


Coalition puts twist on all candidates meeting
The more All Candidates meetings the better and I have it on good authority that this one in particular will be unlike any other in the past. The site they mention has potential though as a candidate it will be tough remembering to check it out on a regular basis.

Opinion: Scare tactics don't foster solution

This article does illustrate that homelessness is in all areas of the city. I too have seen the person mentioned as I expect most who have driven in North Nanaimo. He has been in the area for a few years now and I have never heard of him causing any problems.

“Does one portion of society deserve to be given a home courtesy of the taxpayer while others must struggle to make ends meet all on their own?” Giving them a home will actually save the taxpayers money as once housed the person will utilize other services, paid for by the taxpayer, less often. a savings of up to $18,000plus per year.

Oct 24
Newcastle Island serves economic and cultural role
Newcastle Island is one of the jewels in a box of many that Nanaimo has. The cultural history alone, both pre and post colonization, is well worth learning about. When we look at attracting tourism to the city this and the other jewels in the box need to be the focus.

Women's centre supports low barrier housing
As one of those that worked on the ad talked about in this story I sincerely hope that this story will spur the many other organization and citizens in the community to publicly state their support. We cannot allow a few people to spread fear and misinformation gathering others into their misguided endeavours.

Oct 21
Ron Bolin: Pay attention, then get out and vote
Ron is one f the smartest people I know when it comes to city issues and digging for information. Ron attends most council meetings and has since 2002. He is one of only a few, myself included, that take the time to follow what is happening in the city and the processes used by council to make decisions. He will be someone I keep in touch with when I am elected too council

Westwood residents’ concerned restaurant will upset quiet lives
This is a huge issue in the Westwood Lake area involving the Nanaimo Tennis Club wanting to scrap a land use contract in order to open their member only restaurant to the public. While they say it has been so for decades by allowing them to do this the city could open the door for an influx of people coming to the restaurant and the resultant noise there-of. Directly adjacent to the tennis club is Bethlehem Retreat, a place where people come to get away from it all. In my opinion the city should have been monitoring and enforcing this and any other land use contracts. Too often there is disregard on the part of owners simply for added profit.

Oct 19

City looks for feedback with culture strategy
This is an opportunity for the community and groups to get involved in working towards the benefit of Nanaimo. I hope many turn out to give their input.

Regional District hosting open houses to discuss agriculture plans
And yet the District of Lantzville chooses not to be progressive.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Much more on the Supportive Housing debate

Below are links to a number of news storys and letter on the Suppotive Social Housing debate. Many I have commented on and in a couple of the storys I am mentioned. PS; this may be a bit long for some tastes:)

Oct 24
Women's centre supports low barrier housing
As one of those that worked on the ad talked about in this story I sincerely hope that this story will spur the many other organization and citizens in the community to publicly state their support. We cannot allow a few people to spread fear and misinformation gathering others into their misguided endeavours.

Letter: Comments from meeting very discouraging
Letter: Fear mongering must not ruin opportunity
A couple other well written and informative letters about Supportive Housing; it is heartening to see many more of Nanaimo’s citizens writing in support of Nanaimo’s Homeless Plan.

Letter: Seniors also in need of affordable housing
This letter is right in that affordable housing is needed for seniors, it is also need for all ages. Where he does miss the mark is that many of the homeless are seniors with addictions and they will be helped through low barrier housing. There are many other seniors that suffer from addiction to prescription meds as well and they to need to be housed in an environment supportive of their needs.

Oct 22
Uplands site was the most suitable for low barrier housing says city planner

North-end residents vent at meeting about low barrier housing
This was the one where I lost it a little and did some venting of my own. The following is posted on my Elect Gordon Fuller to Nanaimo Council facebook page.
When I went to the Concerned Citizens of Nanaimo Friday night I should probably have stuck with my original idea and just observed. Alas after listening to MLA Cantelon spout off, then Councilor Bestwick and a few other choice candidates in the election blatantly sucking up to the crowd for votes, the final straw came when prospective councilor Brian Fillmore came up and opened his mouth about the housing issue.
The meeting, I would guess three hundred in attendance, started with members of the CCN. One talked about how this wasn’t about pictures or spreading fear but about process. If that was the case why the photo shopped pictures, one of a family scene with a young girl in the background shooting up and obviously photo shopped into the scene? Why the rhetoric about crime and violence being brought to the area because of the housing when there is absolutely no proof of supportive housing doing so?

If this was simply about communication then I would have to agree with them; yes the process was not the best and sadly the same happens all the time and not just on the housing issue. I will talk more about communication at a later date because it is one of my pet peeves and a reason I am running for council.
Ron Cantelon got up and it was so obvious that he was vote pandering, at one point even asking how many people in the room lived in his riding. He mentioned how he had spoken with Rich Coleman and was assured that if the uplands location was put on hold the government would not withdraw the money. Yeah right, how many lies has this government told and should we trust them?
Councilor Bestwick got up and spouted on for at least 10 minutes. He has always been in opposition of the housing. About the only thing I can say I agreed with him on was when he mentioned too much of councils time was spent in camera; for those not in the know this means no public input and no need to release what the meeting was about or the decisions made there-in.
There were then a few other speakers, most talking about crime, drug addicts coming into their neighbourhoods as well as a couple council candidates. Their was also talk about research showing that smaller works better, abstinence based, and how pathways in New York place people in individual units and research showing smaller was better.
The reality is that while I do not disagree with this research there is also research that shows larger facilities work as well. There is one organization in Seattle where they have 9 low-barrier units housing 800 people and within a few months almost 100% are working with supports brought to the buildings.
If one were to actually look at Nanaimo's Response to Homelessness Action Plan page ES2 (more on pages 14 thru 20) they would see that in it is not just the 160 units of new builds for 5 locations but also creating 75 rent subsidies and 70 acquisitions of existing housing.
Personally I have always thought that the rent subsidies should have been implemented immediately in conjunction with the new build and housing acquisitions as outlined on page ES2. Rent subsidies would have allowed for almost immediate access to housing. Alas when the monies were put forward by the Province they were for new builds and have led to where we are at today.
Okay now we get to the losing it part. So, up until Brian Fillmore got up to speak, and after listening to rhetoric and vote pandering for at least 45 minutes, I was still just planning to listen. It was only during Fillmore’s spiel about drug addicts and how he had personally went to visit Warmlands Low-Barrier Housing in Duncan, found it not to his liking, and spoke with a business person and neighbour who allegedly told him that problems of crime and drug use in the area had gotten worse that I decided I had to get up and speak.
I found much of what he was saying to be so much bullshit that I was infuriated. Especially since we had previously heard from the school district about how well Warmlands, located next to two schools was working well and that Warmlands actually had a community garden where they were teaching school children about healthy eating. We had also heard from business and neighbours that since Warmlands had opened crime and drug use had actually decreased in the area.
As Fillmore was leaving the podium and walking by me I called him scum to his face. I have thought about this comment a lot since then and while I likely should not have said it, better I say it to his face then behind his back.
When I got to the mike the first words out of my mouth were, “I AM NOT HERE TO KISS YOUR ASS FOR VOTES.” I then said something to the effect that I stand by my views on Supportive Housing and am not ashamed to say so. One person in the front said well you are not getting my vote to which I replied if this is the only reason I am not getting your vote then I don’t want it.
I then went on to say that I agreed about the communication process but it goes deeper than just this one issue and I brought up the recent borrowing of 22 million for the Water Treatment Plant as an example, only one public meeting only about the borrowing.
I also went on to mention that when these public meetings were announced, and set up in the community, there was very little participation by the public. It is only when something was perceived to affect them directly that people got upset and banded together wanting the very input they could have actually given earlier on. The Homeless strategy is a perfect example in that when the community was invited to give input very few chose to do so.
I then talked briefly about the fact that the homeless strategy was more than the 160 units, also encompassing acquisitions and rent subsidies. At this point I was being nudged to stop speaking as my three minutes were up, though oddly enough others had been given more, and still pissed off as a wrap up stated that Brian Fillmore was a liar. I then promptly exited stage left, last thing I saw was Fillmore storming back up to the line for the mike looked like he wanted to hit me, with a few people thanking me as I left the building and a few thanking me outside as well.
The reality is that the only thing I specifically regret was accusing Fillmore of being a liar. I have to honestly say that I do not know this for a fact but then I also do not know that he actually went down to Warmlands in Duncan and talked to anyone.

Oct 21
Cantelon says city had other options for north end housing for homeless
Talk about intentionally inflaming the issue. He had told me on a number of occasions that he had been going out in the North End area with a few others speaking in support of the planned housing.
Our view: Cantelon has inflamed the housing issue
Extremely well written editorial, couldn’t agree more.
PS; I keep hearing about this 1400 strong petition. If getting people to sign it involved any of the blatant fear mongering tactics and false information put out by the Mythical CCN group then no wonder so many signed.

Oct 20 DN
Letter: Counter misinformation with factual information
It is unfortunate that when a few people spread fear and misinformation they gather many to their cause which makes giving accurate information even harder. Months ago I had mentioned to a couple of councillors and the social planner that they should be going out to the North End and speaking to people about the issues of Homelessness and Addiction; educate them about all the details of the Homeless Strategy. Had this happened the uproar in North End area would have been far less that it is now.

Oct 20
Social Housing debate continues
A sitting councillor or candidate would have to be nuts to attend this as it will very likely be a bitch fest extraordinaire. Hmm, perhaps I might just attend.

Oct 19
Letter: Residents campaign fails on several fronts
Letter: University women's group advocates inclusive community
A huge thanks to CFUW-Nanaimo for this letter.

Oct 18
Group continues fight against low-barrier housing project
Our View: Lies about low-barrier facility unhelpful

Oct 18
North End residents rally against low-barrier housing (Published as ‘Social housing opponents voice concerns)
I attended this council meeting and spoke in favour of the housing as well as thanking council for their ongoing support. Interesting to note that one of the delegations, the only person yet to admit to being part of the group Concerned Citizens of Nanaimo, refused to answer councils questions after her presentation. Amusing as one of their primary beefs has been a lack of communication and consultation.

If you check this link out Council Meeting October 17 2011 you may want to skip over the delegations prior to the ones regarding housing. I did not get to speak until after 10:00pm, 3 hours after the start of the meeting.

Letter: Are we a welcoming inclusive community
An excellent letter and something we need to work on.

Letter: Ad is a tasteless joke if sponsors are unknown
The ads can be viewed on this website

Letter: Many things wrong when looking at this picture
This letter speaks to the above

Oct 14
Citizens band together in effort to scuttle city's housing project
Oct 13
Opposition and support emerge on low barrier housing
Editorial: Resident takes leadership role
D/N Letters
Letter: Inflammatory pamphlet only spurs negativity
Letter: Lack of consultation for low-barrier housing
A very good quote at the end of this letter.

Oct 11
Letter: Residents must not exclude other people

Oct 8
Uplands land required lift on restrictions
This explains how the Uplands site came to be chosen. It is in essence a close to perfect site and in my opinion City Council could have done this in the open instead of in camera.

Letter: Dump low barrier idea for a workable solution

Cold Weather Shelter

Nanaimo's former Extreme now Cold Weather Shelter will be opening soon which will have a huge impact on the absolute homeless in the community. I was integral again this year in steering funding their way and when I look at accomplishments I have achieved it is this and other issues of homelessness that I am most proud.

Oct 20

Shelter offers comfort during cold weather
I have been in contact with the shelter to discuss the following. It would be better for the following reason if the homeless if the Shelter were to open on November 1st with a tentative closing March 1st.
1. November is far colder traditionally than March.
2. Extreme Weather Criteria, days that BC Housing will kick in funding to augment that already in place, has been lowered to 4 degrees with rain or wind. With colder weather expected this year these Extreme days will expand the amount of time the shelter can stay open into March and perhaps through to the end of March.
3. Opening at an earlier date will allow more time to secure the needed funding for March in the event extreme days are less than expected.

Oct 18
Shelter gets grant to operate for colder winter months
This is good news indeed, but as I have said , they should have kept the start date on the 1st of November with a tentative closing date of March 1st. November has a tendency to be far worse than March weather wise and it is also when Extreme Weather Shelter days funded by BC Housing kick in across the province. These extreme days will as it stands be balancing out the City Grant to allow a Cold Weather shelter and as the weather is expected to be far worse could contribute over the months allowing the shelter to stay open through March. In the event they do not then it would also give time to raise funds from the community to do so.

Oct 12 D/N
Housing shelter faces funding crunch

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Supportive Social Housing heats up again

It’s been a busy few weeks what with running in the upcoming election, dealing with work and all of my other commitments. Sadly it looks like the Supportive Social Housing will be one of the main issues.

With the announcement of the North End location things have really been heating up. A particularly nasty little group calling themselves the Concerned Citizens of Nanaimo has a website up, What’s Wrong with this Picture where a lot of misinformation and fear is being spread. They have a lot of money behind them and have sent out a card, with some of this misinformation, which people can send to their MLA and City Council. The group has also placed a number of full page adds, seen at the bottom of their home page, in the papers in order to galvanize and misinform the community.

As a response to this the Working Group on Homelessness decided to do an ad of their own thanking council for their steadfast support of housing the Homeless. On Monday the 17th I also appeared at council, council video Nov 17 2011, to reiterate that support personally. Go to the first delegation after Cathy Davis, 917pm, for delegations from the North End as well as my own.
Below are copies of the ad we put out, spent many hours pulling it all together with the help of Lynn Burrows and we still have more than 100 names that came in that we were unable to put in the ad, as well as my delegation. Have to head out soon to do some of my regular pickups for the 7-10 Club but wwill hopefully be able to spend the afternoon wwith more updates to the blog, things are pilling up. You can also find out more about what I have been doing by checking my facebook page for the election Elect Gordon Fuller to Nanaimo Council

Delegation to Council:

October 17, 2011

Gordon Fuller
604 Nicol St.
Nanaimo, BC

I want to keep this simple and to the point so as not to take up any more of your time than needed.

I personally want to thank the Mayor and all on Council who have steadfastly supported Nanaimo’s Homelessness & Harm Reduction Strategy.

The housing first concept, used throughout North America, has proven itself in alleviating homelessness and by attaching supports to meet the need of the individual has allowed many to move forward in their fight against addiction.

Some would like to see Nanaimo revisit its strategy a strategy based on the success of the Housing First concept. I and many others in the community spent years to develop this plan and to gain support of the province towards its funding. Should we start over? No, we need to keep moving forward with a proven strategy.

As an Advocate for Social Change on Homelessness and poverty issues in Nanaimo, for well over a decade, I have attended memorial services for far too many in the community who, I have no doubt whatsoever, would still be here had the strategy been implemented sooner. It is on their behalf, and the many this will save, that I so adamantly believe Nanaimo’s Homelessness & Harm Reduction Strategy must continue to move forward.

Again I wish to thank you and the many others in the community for your continued support of this valuable initiative.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Cost of Poverty

The article below is interesting in that it weighs the cost of poverty against the cost of a plan to tackle poverty and the political will to actually do so. In my opinion it is political will that has hindered and contributed to the problem of poverty not just in BC but across Canada.

I also believe that to a degree Municipalities can also have an impact in how they design their own social policy initiatives. An example is the current debate about Supportive Social Housing and Nanaimo's plan to spread out housing to all areas. This for me is a no brainer simply for the fact that spreading out housing and services does not allow for the creation of ghettoized areas. It will take all levels of government to solve the issue.
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: Poverty comes with a high price tag

It’s no secret that British Columbia has a problem with poverty. Many of us do our part and contribute to food drives and other worthy causes. But how many British Columbians realize that poverty is costing us – all of us – a lot more than a few cans of non-perishable food and a new toy donated at Christmas? A new study released by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has, for the first time, quantified the economic cost of poverty in BC. We estimate that poverty costs the average man, woman and child in BC as much as $2,100 each and every year.

The economic cost of poverty to society as a whole adds up to between $8.1 and $9.2 billion per year. That’s a lot of money –close to 5% of the total value of our economy. Our analysis shows that failing to address the root causes of poverty is very expensive, both in terms of current and future costs. Study after study has linked poverty to poorer health, lower literacy, more crime, poor school performance for children, and greater stress for families. Poverty takes an enormous toll on the people who struggle with it, no question about it. But at the end of the day, it’s society at large that is paying a very high price. British Columbians pay approximately $1.2 billion per year in higher. Public health care costs linked to poverty. We spend another $745 million annually on policing and criminal justice costs driven by poverty-related crime. Higher costs of income supports and lost tax revenues that come with inadequate earnings account for over $900 million per year.

Poverty also acts as a significant drag on our economy. BC’s prosperity is undermined when people are excluded from the workforce because they don’t have access to the supports or training they need to do better, or when they are stuck in low wage jobs in our polarized labour market. Underutilizing all the talents and human potential of poor British Columbians to contribute to society and to our economy is among the biggest costs of poverty ($6.3 to $7.2 billion per year). This is a conservative assessment of the cost of poverty in BC, as our estimates do not capture all of the costs. Notably, we exclude the costs that child poverty imposes on future generations by perpetuating the cycle of poverty. We also do not measure many of the less tangible costs, such as the impact of high poverty levels on social cohesion and our feelings of safety in our communities. Nor do we include the direct cost of providing frontline social services to those in poverty.

The BC government’s current approach to poverty is to deal with negative consequences as they arise. This is akin to handling a leaky roof problem by repeatedly mopping the floor. It makes things look passable when the guests arrive, but it does nothing to address the root causes of the problem. And like a leaky roof, poverty’s consequences only get harder and more expensive to fix the more we put off dealing with them. The high costs of poverty in BC gives us a purely economic reason to be concerned about our poverty levels, which are the highest in Canada. Seven Canadian provinces and two territories have recognized this and implemented poverty reduction strategies (or are in the process of developing them). In fact, poverty reduction has emerged as an issue that transcends party politics and ideology to receive all-party agreement in most provinces. It’s time for the BC government to rise up to the challenge and commit to a comprehensive plan to systematically tackle the root causes of poverty in BC. We estimate that once fully implemented, such a plan for BC would cost between $3 and $4 billion per year. That’s less than half of what poverty is costing us now.

Making poverty reduction a priority is the right thing to do. And our report shows that it’s also the fiscally responsible thing to do. The biggest challenge that lies ahead is that upfront investments are needed to bring savings down the line. The four-year election cycle hardly encourages long term thinking or investments. What’s needed is leadership, vision and a willingness to do the right thing for BC’s future.

Iglika Ivanova is an economist and public interest researcher at the CCPA-BC.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

In the News

Oct 8
Letter: Objective measure for council pay is required Nice letter. Interesting that Councillor Greeves, who receives a lot of support from unions, voted for the raise when even unions are receiving 2% or less. Even former councillor Brennan, running again this year after a failed attempt at the mayors’ position in 2008, also supported by unions is in agreement with the raise.

Oct 7
City takes possession of Oceanview properties in tax sale One can only hope that Canadian Property Investments neglects to pay within the one year allowable; the City of Nanaimo must not even give them one day extra. We have seen how well extending contracts for developers has worked in the past for the city; no hotel at the convention centre.

Council to reassess Maffeo Sutton Park plan Citizens of Nanaimo must get involved in this. If not we could see it developed towards being a private entertainment venue. The park must remain public and entertainment in the park must be accessible to everyone.

Oct 4 D/N Council will review plans for Maffeo Sutton Park
Maffeo Sutton Park improvements Jan 2009 This link to a copy of the brochure on the City website. In it it talks about a referendum but that referendum was actually about borrowing money for the convention centre. Just a tad misleading.

Oct 7 D/N: Volunteers continue battle to save Linely Valley While the title is a bit misleading, part of the valley Cottle Lake is already park, it is a cause that is worth getting behind. I once walked my dog through the forested lands between Rutherford Rd. and Hammond Bay Rd., phenomenal and an experience that should be enjoyed by all. If this group is successful many will be as able to enjoy it as I have and we will have another jewel in the city of Nanaimo.

Bulletin Oct 2: Moorecroft Regional Park planning
This is one of those things that irks me. The first open house for public input is between noon and 4:00, right when most folk are working. Despite an online survey, not yet available, I have to ask just how much they want your input?

Oct 7
Windley Contracting earns contract to build city hall annex Yeah right, as far as I know this contract was never put to tender and was simply given to Windley. “could crumble at even the slightest quake” What a crock. We have had many ‘slightest’ quakes over the years and the building is still standing. Another $16million of the taxpayer’s money well spent. Damn right I am being facetious.

Oct 6
Lantzville urban farming recommendations contested This has been an ongoing and vindictive attack on Dirk Becker & Nicole Shaw of Compassion Farm by the Mayor and a few Councillors of the District of Lantzville as well as their immediate neighbour. The goal, in my and others opinions has always been to shut down what is a prime example of Urban Agriculture on the Island.

Lantzvilles bylaw, as is Nanaimo’s is a tad unfair in that smaller residentially zoned lots are allowed 600 square metres of urban garden and larger lots 30% of the property. In many most cases, in particular in Nanaimo, the 600 square metres for smaller lots is far higher a percentage than the 30% for larger lots.

Personally I would like to see 50% for lots of one acre with that percentage rising incrementally for lots larger than an acre. For lots larger than 2 acres I believe 75% would not be be out of line.

It is also my opinion that the District of Lantzville is trying to pass their so called bylaw before the upcoming election. People in that community need to get out and vote for those friendly to urban agriculture, Andrew Mostad and Jaime Wallace for example..

Oct 5
North End housing concerns addressed by city A group or person, with money behind them, opposed to the Supportive Housing going into the North End recently put a full page ad in the Daily News. The ad, essentially a copy of the front page of a nasty little website that has been developed Whats wrong with this picture . They also have a facebook page Concerned citizens of Nanaimo .

I am reminded of a few years ago when the 7-10 Club was looking at rezoning the Harewood Fire Hall for its new location. A website was set up that put out all kinds of misinformation and actually bordered on hate. As usual it was a very small vocal group that had no qualms about spreading disinformation and lies.

Oct 4
Neighbourhood moms mobilizing in response to social housing plan
The idea of starting up a neighbourhood group is a good one. Usually these groups are started in response to real or perceived threats to the community but the challenge is to keep them going when things die down. These groups can be a great way to build interaction with neighbours and create a true sense of belonging as long as they are not simply reactionary. This can cause the opposite effect and divide the community if the group is not careful. links to stories and letters about the Supportive Housing issue

Community Vision

D/N Oct 7
Big community vision rally could spark larger strategy
Vision Rally is starting point for the future
Oct 6: Residents urged to take control of their future during rally
Bulletin: Vision will come from residents

I attended the Nanaimo Community Vision Rally on the 5th and was quite impressed with the turnout, 250 plus. While primarily a business oriented group there were also representatives of a diverse number of interests as well as curious citizens. The speakers were quite good and the message that comes across, to me, in looking at a vision for Nanaimo is INCLUSIVENESS and how we can get past the barriers of Left and Right, Corporate and Social, have and have not.

I was not overly surprised in that I knew many of the folks, from all walks, that were at there. I am also quite sure that many of those that I didn’t know recognized me. I have after all been quite active in the community for more than a decade. While there are some that may not like me because of my beliefs that has never stopped me from getting involved; in fact there are times when it has spurred me on. I would hope a good challenge would spur others on as well.

I was asked if this was simply another effort on the part of the Chamber of Commerce to push certain candidates in the upcoming election and I have to say that I did not see it thus. I was informed that the funds from the evet would be going to the chamber but I was also informed by a chamber member that while they would be urging members to get their staff out to vote they would not be endorsing specific candidates. Truth? we will see.

I have been involved with the old Downtown Nanaimo Partnership, now the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association since around 2002. Part of getting involved was to bring forward and educate about the social agenda in a non confrontational manner which I believe has to some degree been a success. Let’s just say that it is a work in progress, one I am more than willing to continue.

Ivo Beitsma says it well in a post on the Nanaimo Community Vision Rally facebook page “It’s challenging to move a community forward in the face of doubt, skepticism and a spectrum of entrenched ideas.” In his Daily News article Paul Walton: Ideology of the right has failed my favourite quote would be “Democratic socialism is about creating wealth for all; but that depends on a shared ethic of being willing to forsake greed for a greater good.”

I am the eternal optimist in that I believe these barriers can be crossed. I look forward to the next steps in working towards the Vision that could be Nanaimo but that vision, I repeat, must be INCLUSIVE.

PS; peruse the comments on stories from local media reporting the event.
Here is a link to the Whistler 2020 plan that the Mayor of Whistler spoke of.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nanaimo Parks Dedication Bylaw

It would appear that Nanaimo now has a bylaw that will better protect our city parks, passed at Monday’s council meeting. I have been pushing for something like this for a few years, every time parks would come up at council, as prior to this bylaw a simple rezoning application could have been approved by council to rezone an area from park allowing use for development purposes. This bylaw is especially good for some of our largest parks, in general all parks, but there is one flaw.

According to the community charter, section 30, a motion could be moved to remove a dedication if adopted with approval of the electors. Approval of electors, that’s you and me folk, sounds good doesn’t it. The flaw, I’m getting to it, arises through how this approval is handled.

There are two means to gain this approval (see sections 85/86 of community charter);
1) Through referendum, which requires a majority of those voting;
2) Through alternative Approval Process (AAP), the number of elector responses received is less than 10% of the number of electors of the area to which the approval process applies.

The FLAW; in short 10% of voters would have to sign the approved form to have the rezoning squashed.

Governments use the AAP because it requires a huge amount of work and vast number of committed volunteers to gather the approx 6600 signatures, in Nanaimo, to defeat what is being proposed. The most recent example being the proposal to borrow $22million for the $65million dollar Water Treatment Plant in Nanaimo, only 3 people, me included, actually signed the approved petition form.

Why only three? Simply because the onus is not on government to spread the word about the process but on those opposed, resulting by and large in the failure of the opposition. The AAP, I have written other posts regarding the AAP, is in short the most likely means for government to pass things without the voice of the people being heard.

When elected to council I will be looking into the possibility of eliminating the AAP as a means of “Elector Approval”.

October 3rd Agenda City Council pgs 165 - 176
Community Charter Table of Contents
Section 30 Reservation and Dedication of Municipal PropertyDivision 2 sections 84 - 86 pertain Approval of Electors