Every candidate was asked the same four questions. Responses were to be in 250 words or less per response. Below, in alphabetical order, are the responses provided by the 32 councillor candidates who chose to participate. Other than standardizing font type, colour and size, all candidate responses have been left as submitted by candidates.
- How would you describe the role you are seeking (mayor or councillor) and how do your skills, experience and qualifications prepare you to take on this serious and complex role?
- Outline the approaches and actions you think council should take to help foster a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse Nanaimo economy and community.
- Describe your vision, approach and tactics for how you as a council member and council as a body should engage with its various partners, stakeholders and constituents.
- Nanaimo Council is served and supported by a series of committees. How should these committees be structured, mandated and governed?
How would you describe the role you are seeking (mayor or councillor) and how do your skills, experience and qualifications prepare you to take on this serious and complex role?
Councillor: you are responsible for making decisions which you believe are in the best interests of the community and providing leadership to the City. You must come to meetings prepared and be accessible to the citizens who elected you You must attend meetings of your assigned City and RDN committees. You must follow the Community Charter and Local Government Act. Section 115 of the Community Charter sets out the role of Councillor.
My 36 years as a RCMP officer have helped prepare me for this role. I had many leadership roles within the RCMP and understand the importance of team work and respect. If I am unsure of an issue I research it, ask questions of staff and other experts in the field. I have managed budgets and understand in many instances you cannot move money from one account or business line to another. I spent time with Finance And Audit staff and went over how the City Budget works, how dollars are allocated, the importance of the asset management fund etc. I know how to set priorities and know the importance of adhering to them. I also know this needs to be done as a group not an individual. I believe my 14 months on Council have helped me learn the role and the importance of putting the City first. Respect for the community and other people has alway been important to me.
Outline the approaches and actions you think council should take to help foster a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse Nanaimo economy and community.
The City needs to work with the business community , MIBI, Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders to see if the Nanaimo Economic Development Committee should be revived or is there a better model. We need to attract businesses to invest in our community. In order to do this the Council needs to listen to the subject matter experts and formulate and execute a plan to move forward. Council also needs to work together so the business community has faith in a Council which will put the needs of the Community first. Community engagement is critical in moving the City forward. This can be done in many formats, Social Media, City website, however the best in my opinion is attending community events where you can hear directly from those you represent. We need to start adhering to our policy of building our asset management fund and not take funds from it in order to fund nice to haves. If we do not put this money aside we could end up in a situation like Detroit with no money to provide essential services or fix ailing infrastructure. We need to maintain our parks and trails or people quit using them. We need to establish an Environmental and Sustainability committee to assist Council with decisions which will have a future impact on our City.
Describe your vision, approach and tactics for how you as a council member and council as a body should engage with its various partners, stakeholders and constituent
I believe the best way to engage is face to face. Quite often it is staff who are doing the majority of the work however Council needs to be engaged at one point. Regular meetings between partners such as Nanaimo Port Authority, School District 68, and B.C. Housing are an example of this. We need to reestablish a working relationship between the Snuneymuxw Nation and Mayor and Council. This needs to happen at the elected body level as there is work being done at the staff level. I believe there should be regular engagement with the Neighbourhood associations. This can be done by attending community events and their regular meetings if the Association is agreeable. I also believe Nanaimo needs a Communications manager who can develop a communications strategy with input from, staff, citizens and elected officials. I believe early engagement on an issue is imperative. If we are aware of an issue coming forward which will effect a community we need to start the process immediately. We as a Council need to use the information which is gathered from the community and consider it when making decisions. I have done a monthly post on Facebook site outlining what I have done as a Councillor as well as providing my rationale for any controversial issues. I will continue to do this if re-elected.
Nanaimo Council is served and supported by a series of committees. How should these committees be structured, mandated and governed?
At the present time the City of Nanaimo operates Select committees. I believe the City would be better served by having some committees as Standing Committees and others as Select committees. The issue with having Standing committees is under the Charter at least half of the members must be Council members. With the number of meetings required it may be difficult for some Council members to attend. The structure for the committees are set out in the Community Charter Sections 141 and 142. We need a staff person for minutes as well as person from Legislative Services to ensure proper adherence to laws.
I would like to see the term be two years with staggered membership so half are appointed each year for a two year term. This would allow for some consistency. At present a Council member must be the Chairperson and I would like to change it to a committee member. I think each committee should have its own rules outlining purpose, duties and responsibilities, quorum, and reporting requirements to name a few. The rules would have to be consistent with the Community Charter, Local Government Act and the Procedural Bylaw. I think it is important for committee members to have skills or experience in the area the Committee represents. As pointed out in the Watson report our committees should be aligned with the City’s strategic plan.
1-The role of Councillor, that I am running for, is to represent the residents of Nanaimo in the municipal government with dedication and integrity by providing policy and fiscal oversight; collaborate with the rest of Council to set policy in order to provide direction to the CAO; understanding with continual updating the wide range of areas the City is involved in; ongoing consultation with Nanaimo residents through committees, task forces and other means of community engagement; maintaining a working knowledge of the legal environment that the City is situated in; familiarity with planning processes and outcomes; being well prepared for Council and Committee meetings.
I have acquired skills through my university and continuing education along with my career in business as a Human Resources/Labour Relations professional that will be useful on Council. These include finding solutions to conflict situations; understanding complex financial, social, legal, and engineering information; providing collaborative leadership to members of teams with diverse aspirations in order to develop common goals; and one of the most valuable skills; listening to the views of others before reaching a conclusion. In addition I have served on the board of a credit union, its audit committee and as a vice-president, acquiring similar skills with a financial focus.
2-Council needs to work together with the Mayor and staff to achieve these goals. It is important to involve the residents of Nanaimo in achieving these through consultation, communications and feedback.
The specific actions I would suggest are: Develop ways to assess and implement the recommendations in the recently adopted Housing and Homelessness reports instead of allowing the reports to be filed and forgotten. To achieve prosperity Council must begin a process through consultation with stakeholders and residents to develop an action plan to attract investment in industry and self employment that pays living wages; not minimum wage precarious jobs. Having the current one city staff person assigned to this is not
the solution. There are examples in other cities such as Waterloo where a municipality has successfully attracted many quality jobs with well executed actions. A vibrant community can be achieved by Council developing cultural, community and business plans to grow venues that encourage people to interact with each other. The Night Market is an outstanding example of the action Council can take to develop a vibrant community. We as Council need to work with our residents and stakeholders to develop action plans for numerous community activities such as these. All of these actions developed by council need to have sustainability criteria as an integral part of them.
Execution of actions and approaches is an important component. All need Key Performance Indicators imbedded in them for regular follow-up so that they are measured for schedule and budget.
3-My vision is to have constant contact and feedback from our all parts of our community. Council’s approach to this would be best served by having each member working hard to engage with the community and bringing back to the other members our individual results for discussion in committee or in written form. We need to look at innovative methods of consultation, especially with our residents, many of whom are feeling left out of the process. Online feedback is certainly an obvious method. Rotating townhall style meetings are another. Information meetings held in different parts of the community instead of being city hall centric will likely encourage more participation. This combined with live streaming may increase resident participation. As a new Council we will need to investigate all ideas as to how to increase community engagement. However, the tried and proven method of Council members personally engaging must not be overlooked. We need to be available and responsive to our residents who wish to communicate with us.
Council’s various partners and stakeholders also must be brought into engagement, such as community associations, businesses, other levels of government, social services and other community organizations, educational institutions. It is our responsibility as a Councillor and Council as a group to be aware of any issues our partners and stakeholders have with the City and how ore decisions will impact them.
4-The Committee structure needs to re-examined as in my opinion the current structure is not working. For example combining cultural and social planning mandates into one committee is puzzling. Our new Council will have to review this in its entirety; however my preference is for a more decentralized approach with committees being given compact mandates. Greater use of Task Forces to deal with single issues is one method of more community engagement. It would also provide more value if Committees utilized a sub committee approach where specific items in their mandate could be looked at in more detail with the subcommittee reporting back to the whole for discussion and possible adoption.
How would you describe the role you are seeking (mayor or councillor) and how do your skills, experience and qualifications prepare you to take on this serious and complex role?
The role of a councillor is to provide governance to the City Corporation. That governance is provided by passing by-laws and motions. A councillor also represents the citizens of this city and does so by considering the interests of the municipality and its community members in their decision making. I have extensive training on board governance. I completely understand the difference between operations and governance. I have been on numerous boards including chairing boards for the last 17 years. I have been involved in numerous strategic planning sessions with these boards. I know how to read a financial statement. I have been on city committees for over 7 years and been responsible for almost $1.5M per year in city spending through the Permissive Tax Exemptions. I have a strong background working with Arts and Culture groups and Social Service agencies in our city. I have been an active participant in city council meetings and attended most of the public engagement sessions put on by the city in the past 4 years.
Outline the approaches and actions you think council should take to help foster a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse Nanaimo economy and community.
Council needs to provide for the public engagement of the community members. Where the members of our community share a role in the decision making process. Council needs to create a new Economic Development entity and what it looks like will be part of that public engagement. Council also needs to look to the future and again with community engagement develop a long-term vision for our city. Then council with more engagement from the public and input from staff need to develop a strategic plan based on that vision. That strategic plan needs to look at our built and natural infrastructure, our social and cultural infrastructure, the environment and our economic base. One thing that is very important that council needs to address is help for our City staff. We need to look for and hire a new CAO and help that person rebuild the capacity of our staff. Council’s role is governance and setting our strategic priorities. We can have the best plans and fail without a vibrant city staff to implement those decisions. Both planning and building staff capacity must be done hand in hand to achieve the results our community wants.
Describe your vision, approach and tactics for how you as a council member and council as a body should engage with its various partners, stakeholders and constituents.
Council with the help of staff need to develop a culture of public engagement for most of the policy and projects we work on. This can be done several ways including online public engagement using software such as PlaceSpeak or CitizenLab. Public engagement needs to be done at the beginning of the development of the project or policy and not at the end. Stakeholders need to be clearly identified and approached to participate. Probably a recent example of engagement with stakeholders and constituents was the Off-Street Parking By-law. Staff took the original bylaw talked with identified stakeholders, did research on best practices in other cities and came up suggested changes then reached out to the community for input. The final report in detail described all the work done including all the research, public consultation, stakeholder engagement. The report then went on to describe how the initial bylaw suggestions were adapted after the consultation process and in detail listed the results of the surveys and public discussion in the report. This reporting allowed council to have a clear understanding of the process and how the staff recommendation came to be. It also allowed the public to see the process and to see their ideas incorporated into the final report and recommendations.
Nanaimo Council is served and supported by a series of committees. How should these committees be structured, mandated and governed?
I would like to see a return to the existing committee structure prior to the last election. Specifically, I would like to see a return of the Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability. With a mandate to ensure a healthy environment by advising Council on environmental sustainability issues and providing input on policies and practices that deal with social, cultural, land use and economic development.
A return of the Grants Advisory committee with an increased mandate to manage all city grants and Permissive Tax exemptions and to advise council on policy regarding such.
I would like to see the finance and audit committee broken up into a finance committee and an audit committee. With the possibility of rolling finance into the COW meeting. The Audit committee would be responsible for making sure that the city’s resources are subject to proper controls and reported properly. Simply put the COW or council decides what to spend money on and the Audit committee makes sure it’s done properly.
Finally, a committee to Incorporate First Nations and Urban Indigenous perspectives for effective City services and for all policy work that the City does. With a mandate to see the city of Nanaimo designated as a City of Reconciliation. In addition, but not related to the question I would like to see the city hire a reconciliation planner with similar mandate as the one hired by the Vancouver Park Board.
- How would you describe the role you are seeking (mayor or council) and how do your skills, experience and qualifications prepare you to take on this serious and complex role?
As a private sector professional with a couple of decades of direct experience as an analyst, facilitator and collaborator. These qualifications are ideal for this complex role.
Asking the right questions and addressing the root cause of a problem. For example, a tent city and homelessness. Is the root cause economic or substance abuse and addiction? The best approach is to cut through the noise and accomplish key goals set by the council. Foreign investment and speculation make the housing market unaffordable. What controls or subsidies can we put in place to get the desired outcome?
- Describe your vision, approach, and tactics for how you as a councilor and council as a body should engage with its various partners, stakeholders, and constituents.
Driven Proposal methodology, I look forward to leveraging my knowledge and insight to deliver benefits to Nanaimo. It isn’t only about spending cuts but investing in Nanaimo wisely and acquiring federal funding.
Cut or reduce committees. It depends on city councils priorities, goals and vision to determine the mandate or governance. Smart goals and fiscal controls should be implemented. I believe in a CPOC (central point of contact) structure for these committees.
The role of a Nanaimo City Councillor is to work collaboratively with the Mayor and other Councillors, with advice and input from city staff and the community at large, to set the strategic direction and make decisions on bylaws and policies with regard to land use, infrastructure, economic development, transportation, parks, recreation and cultural activities.
My experience and education as an urban planner has given me a strong understanding of best practices for urban growth and development. Further, I have a working knowledge of the processes associated with zoning, Official Community Plans and neighbourhood plans, and the Regional Growth Strategy. My employment at the Regional District of Nanaimo has centred on strategic and operational planning, intergovernmental relationships, policy development, and special projects. Such skills and in-depth knowledge of local governance will be extremely beneficial to hitting the ground running in a Councillor role.
Through volunteer activities,I have held leadership roles in community organizations, Chaired the City of Nanaimo Board of Variance, been a member of the City of Nanaimo’s Community Planning and Development Committee, founded an initiative to advocate for better urbanism in Nanaimo and worked with urban planning professionals to support better planning in Nanaimo. Each of those roles has allowed me to grow my leadership, communication and collaboration skills to advance initiatives for the betterment of Nanaimo.
For Nanaimo to be a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse economy and community, it must have reliable infrastructure, fair taxation that makes sense, a transportation system that works, an open government and strong communities and neighbourhoods. Prosperity for our community cannot be artificially created with big, expensive and high-risk projects. Prosperity is achieved incrementally over time. As a City Councillor, I would advocate for the following:
- Tactical investments in our downtown, such as investments in public spaces, the phased implementation of the Terminal Nicol Reimagined Plan, the acquisition of key sites, community safety initiatives, and event programming to improve the heart of our city.
- Complete communities and neighbourhoods throughout Nanaimo. Every Nanaimo citizen should live and work in close proximity to services, parks and recreational activities.
- Collaboration with the province and community groups to implement housing and poverty reduction initiatives.
- Safe, effective, and efficient public transportation and active transportation infrastructure.
- An economic development strategy to attract new business, support existing business, develop and retain local talent, and effectively market Nanaimo.
- Land use planning and development that prioritizes reducing long-term asset replacement costs in order to relieve the tax burden for infrastructure replacement.
- Urban design that accommodates people of all ages and abilities within our city.
- A reimagined City Committee structure the respects the diversity of our community and a strong commitment to public engagement.
Describe your vision, approach and tactics for how you as a council member and council as a body should engage with its various partners, stakeholders and constituents.
I believe that Nanaimo can be the best mid-sized City in British Columbia and that vision can be achieved by empowering our citizens, communities, and industry. An empowered population will be the foundation of our city’s strength and our municipal government should be a platform to collaboratively build a prosperous city.
As a council member, I will adopt the values of respect, accountability, innovation, honesty, and openness to frame and guide my discussions, deliberations and interactions with others. As a Councillor, I would support the adoption of a Strategic Plan that includes a mission statement and guiding principles to properly define the next four years of City of Nanaimo governance.
Council should interact with respect and dignity with each other, City staff, other governments, constituents, and community groups. I would support a code of conduct – to be adopted by Council – that outlines how a member of Council is expected to behave as a representative of Nanaimo and that City meetings (including committee meetings) are to be environments free from discriminatory or disrespectful behavior.
The current City committees need to be revisited as I have been informed that some participants do not feel their work is valued and that citizens feel the committees are too large in scope and are therefore ineffective. These problems need to be addressed as Committees are an important connection between Council and the community and serve a vital role in participatory democracy.
Every City of Nanaimo committee should be clearly defined in its terms of reference. The goal of the committees should be to create effective and efficient processes for providing advice to Council that represents the diversity of our community. Committee meetings and work should be supported by staff, resourced properly, and include multiple Councillors to ensure each committee is thoroughly represented at the Council table. It will be the task of the new Council to decide which committees should exist but I believe that the Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee should be reestablished and, in consultation with existing community groups, Council should explore establishing the following committees:
- LGBTQ2+ Advisory Committee
- Seniors Advisory Committee
- Urban Indigenous Peoples’ Advisory Committee
- Persons with Disabilities Advisory Committee
- Mental Health and Addictions Task Force (At the Regional District Level)
- A few years ago the Harbour was nearly sold out to Craig MacCaw an American cellphone magnet. With all their combined experience and qualifications not a single politician
Not M.P. not Leonard Krog M.L.A. or council raised a voice or lifted a finger in protest. Not their mandate? I started a petition and public outcry to Save Nanaimo Harbour city from losing the Harbour city Harbour. In 2013 I fouoght a developer in court that was bulldozing through Linley Valley and brought more awareness to this ecological wonder of the world. I will ACT on keeping Nanaimo infrastructure GREEN and SAVING Nanaimo TREES from uncreative development and encroachment of public land. Nanaimo is my home an native Land. My role is one of Elder and GRANDMOTHER because I care.
- Council needs to open a door to a new era of green sustainability. Innovative development in high tec use of Solar and Rooftop Gardens . With climate change seriously upon us we must take into account the possibility of being cut off from the mainland and a large portion of our imported food supply. Three days and the store is empty! Growing Food Bigtime in every possible way will create many new jobs. Tourism would thrive on our local organic menue. It is time to push for a friendly downtown where people instead of cars can park their butts. Highlighting outlets opportunities where our many talented artists and crafters can showcase their art for the enjoyment of the public and an interesting exciting downtown Hub. Nanaimo can be the SKATEBOARD Green Tourist Destination of the WORLD!
Cultivating Cannabis Hemp for ALL our paper needs…Textiles..Canvas..Meds would bring BIG BOOM to our economy and lots of creative JOBS.
AFFORDABLE HOME CONCEPTS must take priority and shelters for ALL residents .
- Nanaimo has over a hundred thousand viable Voters. Votes make a difference and with technology a city like Nanaimo can become a community where we can apply family value. The voices of our children must also be listened to. It is their future. The best answer to issues comes not from nine on council but from YOU the people of the city. The public must be allowed more meaningfull participation. Its called Democracy. The Council must acquire more knowledge of development practices, infrastructure, pedestrian walkways and Bus Shelters. It would be prudent to take Transit to get acquainted with the importance of future green travel options. Being on Council is a fulltime job.
- Every committee is a forerunner in bringing about a desired action towards a Better Nanaimo . Without forward action its just a time filler. All committee members need to fully participate with individual imput bringing their own unique talents to the round table. This creates an upwards spiral of higher insight and attainment. Working as a team to bring about the highest and best result.
QUESTION #1: How would you describe the role you are seeking (mayor or councillor) and how do your skills, experience and qualifications prepare you to take on this serious and complex role?
I am seeking the role of Nanaimo City Councillor. I understand the responsibilities of this role as providing municipal governance through collective decision making that represents the needs and wants of the community. These actions include setting strategic direction, adopting financial plans, allocating resources, adopting zoning bylaws, making policy resolutions and engaging the community.
My education, professional experience and community involvement has allowed me to develop the judgement, broad perspective and governance skills necessary to be an effective city councillor. I have a BSc. in Biology and an M.A in counselling and have worked in non-profits, government and the private sector. I currently own and operate a tree service business that provides work opportunities for individuals facing barriers to employment. These professional and educational experiences have provided me a broad and practical understanding of the social, economic and environmental forces we must pay attention to in order to create a healthy community.
Having served on the boards of several non-profit organizations, I have worked hard in a governance role for our community’s benefit. These organizations include The Mid-Island Community Development Co-op, the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange and the South End Community Association. I have also served as a member of the Regional District Solid Waste Management Plan Advisory Committee helping to develop policy to ensure a healthy environment.
Through my experiences, I have developed the skills and understanding necessary to effectively support our community as a city councillor toward a vision of a livable, sustainable Nanaimo full of opportunity for everyone.
Question #2: Outline the approaches and actions you think council should take to help foster a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse Nanaimo economy and community
To help foster a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse Nanaimo economy and community, council should consider an approach that strengthens relationships in our community toward this positive vision.
Restoring a well-functioning local government is a necessary step in this process. This requires ensuring a CAO committed to building collaborative relationships with council, staff and community stakeholders. A key element in restoring our local government is rebuilding and improving the city’s capacity to respond to the communities needs and leverage its diversity and talent. This requires the city to facilitate forums where diverse but related groups can come together at one table to co-ordinate efforts toward shared goals. This requires re-structuring our city committees and implementing approaches to ensure the necessary connections and innovative dialogue is happening. One major forum to re-establish is the city’s economic development program that brought together community around the goal of diversifying and expanding economic opportunity. A similar approach is necessary to implement our city’s strategies to end homelessness and increase housing affordability
Finally, the most important tool of government to achieve positive change is a guiding vision. We as a community have the opportunity to develop a strong shared vision that can guide our development as we grow through updating our official community plan. If we can create a process that both educates and engages the community in smart urban design, we can achieve strong community support for a council to move plans along to ensure a livable, sustainable and prosperous city for everyone.
QUESTION #3: Describe your vision, approach and tactics for how you as a council member and council as a body should engage with its various partners, stakeholders and constituents.
I believe that individual council members and council as a whole should engage with its various partners, stakeholders and constituents from a principled foundation of integrity, accountability, respect and collaboration. When consistently applied these principles allow a council to effectively co-ordinate with all partners to achieve shared goals.
My approach is to first lead by example by using respectful language that demonstrates a willingness to listen and consider all perspectives. This commitment to respectful open dialogue is the cornerstone of any well-functioning democracy and the foundation of healthy productive relationships.
At an institutional level my vision is that this commitment to open collaborative dialogue must be maintained with the community through an effective communications and community engagement strategy. This strategy must support well-functioning city committees and other forums that allow constructive dialogue between groups. In addition, this strategy must effectively keep the public and all stakeholders informed of the council decision making process, updated on city progress on key metrics and provide meaningful opportunities for engagement. Part of this communications strategy is minimizing the amount of time council spends behind closed doors and when in camera meetings do occur, reasons are clearly outlined and made available before the meeting.
QUESTION #4: Nanaimo Council is served and supported by a series of committees. How should these committees be structured, mandated and governed
Committees should be organized to reflect the strategic direction of council which should reflect the needs and desires of the community articulated in the official community plan. Nanaimo’s current committee structure and the processes by which community members are engaged is in need of review and re-structuring.
The amalgamation of the Social Planning and Cultural Committees into what is currently the Community Vitality committee does not allow sufficient attention to the variety of different functions accomplished by the two previously separate entities. Another gap in the current committee structure was created by the termination of The Advisory Committee on the Environment and Sustainability. This area of focus is a cornerstone of our community’s official plan and this committee should be re-instated. In addition, the city is facing many challenges such as affordable housing, homelessness and co-ordinated effort in economic development. Although additional committees for these areas of focus may not be the solution, some form of city supported forums that allow community members, staff and council to dialogue and co-ordinate effort on these matters is required.
I also believe it is important to review the terms of reference for each committee to ensure staff, council and community volunteer time is valued and used effectively as this has been a common complaint. I would also like to see the diversity and talent of our community reflected in our committee membership and that these forums of collaboration be appreciated as an important mechanism to develop the future leadership of our community.
In addition to being 1/9th of the legislative and financial power of the city, the role of city councillor is nothing less than a representative of the will and needs of the people of Nanaimo. I understand and respect the importance of the role, and will approach it with the utmost prudence and spirit of cooperation.
In regard to how I’m prepared to be a councillor, I’ve been immersed in politics my entire adult life; not only with the broad scope of politics through post-secondary study of its theories, philosophies, and statistics but also with its practical scope of grassroots activism, and actually writing effective and enforceable policies.
I have written policies at the provincial level as policy director of the BC YND, one of which was used in the BC NDP platform, and one of which was endorsed by parliamentary leader of the federal NDP, Guy Caron. Moreover, in a survey of Young New Democrats across the province, my policies were voted as highest priority in the policy book.
Politics is my passion. Making real change for the common good is my end goal. And I would be honoured to start at home.
Our economy is our own; a material reflection of the choices we make and the actions we take. As such, we ought to make our economic priorities through through the lens of local empowerment to create long-term, sustainable results. No stakeholder is more important than those who actually live in this city.
We can’t be overly prioritizing investments from external sources—clamouring for outside investment—instead of bolstering local businesses and workers. This, to me, shows a lack of faith in the people of Nanaimo from their city council.
We instead need a Nanaimo city council that focuses its economic intent more on the people of Nanaimo, and less on courting outside capital and wasteful legacy projects.
We should give more leeway to local businesses and entrepreneurs.
Rather than allowing local entrepreneurs to conduct new business, council has stymied them; preening instead for larger outside investors who are granted lots of leverage and who hold no stake in the future of our city.
As councillor, I will use reason, evidence, and respectful dialogue with stakeholders and interlocutors to field the best investors—with a focus on sustainable local business—such that they might benefit our economy in new ways.
An injection of community economic development (CED), I believe, is the right way forward. And it is something I intend on pursuing for this city. Continuing to rely on big-moneyed outsiders who don’t care about our city is a surefire way to have all of our best entrepreneurial minds give up and get out.
Describe your vision, approach and tactics for how you as a council member and council as a body should engage with its various partners, stakeholders and constituents
Transparency is absolutely needed. Moreover, when it comes to a democratic exchange of ideas, perhaps nothing is more important than being able to take criticism without taking it personally. This has not been a strong point of our current city council. Whether it be name-calling, patronizing citizens, or filing lawsuits, this council has found a way to turn potentially fruitful dialogue into unnecessary drama.
As councillor, I will always focus on respectful dialogue that builds toward rational, evidence-based solutions.
Socrates said that the key to wisdom is to know that you know nothing [in the grand scale of all that there is to know]. This means really listening to interlocutors; knowing that while being persuasive is crucial, another crucial—often overlooked—component to reaching the best ideas is being persuadable.
While I believe that it is a shame that Nanaimo doesn’t currently have a Housing and Homelessness committee, nor an Environmental committee, I don’t take issue with the current operation of standing and select committees in a structuralist sense. However I am open to suggestions for their improvement.
The role of city councillor involves being able to work respectfully and well with people who hold different opinions and values. It involves the ability to connect with people from all walks of life and listen to their needs, worries, and ideas, and translate those voices into strategies and plans which reflect our community values. It involves leadership, both in thought (adequately preparing oneself to engage on a wide range of topics), and in action (modelling behavior that is worthy of a community leader). The role requires managing a large budget and exercising fiscal prudence. It involves understanding the rules, regulations and responsibilities of local government and working as a team to ensure that our city is well represented to other governments. It involves building strong relationships with partners and stakeholders who share our interests in economic and social wellbeing, and understanding that those two are inextricably linked.
I currently sit on two City committees. I am an advocate, facilitator and project manager whose work has directly and successfully served members of our community. I hold a Master’s degree in Anthropology and have worked in the non-profit sector, the health care system, educational institutions and with governments. I bring an in-depth understanding of the relationship between individual wellbeing and our overall health as a community. Finally, I bring a passion for creating a culture where residents feel engaged and truly represented by their leadership.
I believe that a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse Nanaimo begins by identifying a shared vision. Plans that we create to realize that vision must reflect community values, be economically sound, grounded in effective consultation and prioritized in order of importance. To that end, I envision embarking on a collaborative strategic planning process with the community and city staff relatively shortly after the new council takes office, with some key elements hopefully completed in time to influence deliberations on the 2019 budget.
I believe that we need to make organizational changes within the city’s structure to better serve our community and staff. We need to establish a stronger economic development function within the city, and address the staffing shortages in the permit and planning departments. We need to create strong partnerships with organizations like the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and the Mid-Island Business Initiative in order to understand the needs and trends of the business community, and foster positive relationships with key stakeholders such as the Health Authority, Port of Nanaimo and Vancouver Island University. We need to respectfully and humbly express our desire to work alongside Snuneymuxw First Nation. We need to focus on the downtown as the heart of the community, while also paying attention to the needs of our diverse neighbourhoods. Finally, we need to stay connected to organizations, institutions and our non-profit sector which are already working towards these goals, and learning from them how the city can play a supportive role in their efforts.
Before Council can effectively engage with various partners, stakeholders and constituents, it must ensure that relationships within the Council team are respectful, healthy and productive. Once that is established, Council may then focus on developing and sustaining strong and effective relationships which serve our broader goals of being an economically diverse, sustainable and vibrant city.
In the case of a specific issue, such as affordable housing, council needs to re-establish strong lines of communication with provincial and federal counterparts and begin implementing the policies of the Affordable Housing Strategy. For those living homeless or at risk of homelessness in our community, we need to implement the recommendations in the Action Plan to End Homelessness, support the front line service providers and listen to those with lived experience to ensure that the efforts we direct their way are actually meeting their needs. At the same time, we need to enter into meaningful consultations with neighbourhoods on the location of proposed housing before projects begin, not after.
In all circumstances, with all partners, stakeholders and constituents, council members must individually, and as a whole, approach relationship building and collaborative work with a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities of each party and treat every interaction as an opportunity to forward common goals. Respect, humility, clarity and a commitment to serving the public interest must underscore all interactions.
I am particularly passionate about creating a strong committee structure which serves Council, staff and our community.
I believe the committee structure needs to be derived from the strategic plan and reflective of community priorities which stand to improve our community’s overall prosperity, wellbeing and vibrancy. We need to avoid ‘super-committees’ which combine too many objectives and prevent the committee from effectively engaging on any one matter, as well as revisit the loss of disbanded committees which provided valuable input on matters of importance to our city.
We need to implement an application process which looks at member’s passion, expertise and suitability, while also paying close attention to creating opportunities for citizens who are typically underrepresented. We need to create an environment of meaningful participation, ensuring that committee work is both rewarding and effective, and enhance our recruitment and training processes so that those new to committee work immediately feel valued and engaged.
Committee mandates should be set by Council and based on strategic priorities identified in consultation with the public. Committee governance should be laid out in Terms of Reference which clearly articulate the scope and timeline of the committee’s work, as well as the role of the committee in relationship to Council, staff and the public.
The role of councillor is to thoughtfully listen to and assess issues brought forth by staff and community, respectfully debate them within the cohort of mayor and council and produce outcomes that best serve the taxpayer. Serving 4 years as District Councillor in Squamish has helped equip me with the tools to share my experience while providing a fresh face to the District of Nanaimo council team. Let us stress the term “team” because this is the type of high calibre leadership we must thrive on, both as community members and influential leaders. I have been involved in 4 budgets, strategic plans and internal master plans, as well as many complex land and development issues. I am familiar with policy and process and am always focussed on the best interests of both community and corporation, as attested to in my oath of office. Sense of community involvement is fundamental to my family and I. My wife Marcia is a full-time nurse and has chaired our sons’ school PAC, Director of Minor Hockey and Hospice volunteer. Some examples of my community experience and achievements are: Library Board, Chair of the Corporate and Public Services Committee and Chair of the Digital Strategy Committee, leading Squamish’s first Digital Strategy. Additionally, I have worked closely with Rotary, Lions Club, and mentored through the Big Brothers Foundation. With this work, I have been honoured as a two time BC Community Achievement Award nominee.
Working in tandem with stakeholder groups like the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism, local business and grassroots community efforts is crucial to create a sustainable economy. Nanaimo’s economic development office needs to work with its community partners to keep the vision, not just locally focussed but regional. It is essential we immediately address (through Provincial and Federal partners) housing issues, addiction services and Mental Health, as it has a direct impact on the city’s economy, vibrancy, reputation and wellbeing of our community members. Council must also honor the trust of the electorate and truly govern with integrity, conscience and vision. The Official Community Plan should be dusted off, revised and amended where needed. Completed in 2008, the OCP’s components may no longer reflect the vision of how Nanaimo sees itself moving into the future. It is a crucial document that informs, not only the community and municipal staff, but gives developers, investors and businesses a framework driven by community consultation.
Engagement requires an open door policy. I would advocate for openness and greater public consultation throughout all Nanaimo’s processes from public hearings to in-camera meetings. It has been disheartening witnessing the significant issues involving local governance over this last term. This has motivated me to help re-establish damaged relations with the electorate, municipal staff, protective services, ministerial agencies and community that hold a special place in my heart. It is imperative we attract, retain, and recognize good city staff, for they are the backbone of every municipality. We must also work closely with First Nations, senior levels of government through UBCM and ministerial agencies to foster a forward thinking, economically strong and safe community for all. Transparency is the key to trust. Regular Committee meetings with stakeholders and community partners fosters deeper interpersonal bonds and an understanding of shared goals and solutions. Relations with the RDN are critical in Nanaimo’s greater vision, keeping those outside the city engaged and connected to government. Stakeholders throughout the region have a wealth of knowledge and community spirit that should be nurtured and employed in the city’s decision making processes. Everyone has a voice.
I have sat as a member of the Library Board, Affordable Housing Strategy, and Finance and Audit Committees. Additionally, l have served as Chairman of Corporate and Public Services and the Digital Strategy committee. Working with staff, council and community stakeholders, we have focused on agendas that cover community and internal issues, delivering first-rate results. Community groups and stakeholders should always have a voice at the table. A strong and engaged Chair must keep meetings timely and on topic with public comments ideally kept to 5 minutes per person, followed by debate and deliberation. It is imperative that committee outcomes are brought forward to council to be vetted further by discussion and public consultation. It’s all about the teamwork.
I would describe the role of councillor as a multifaceted position requiring the candidate to understand many different aspects involved in the day-to-day operation of a large corporation and make decisions to support its functioning. This will involve critical thinking, integrity, charisma, and a keen eye for detail.
Throughout my years I have amassed experience, wisdom, and skill. My abilities involve organization, active listening, openness, interpersonal communication, research, and ease in learning new systems, databases, and environments.
I have a 42-year professional and volunteer-based career in public service where I have; mediated conflict, made difficult decisions, participated in education and athletic boards, and supported relationships with stakeholders, dignitaries, and the community. This skillset has been honed during 10 years of producing and hosting live radio.
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Women Studies and 2 minors in Political Science and Sociology. My education refined my competence in reading and critically analyzing documents and written reports.
I believe these qualities I have highlighted will make me a skilled civil servant, able to make decisions based on solid information to support the community.
In this age of climate change I believe making decisions through a sustainable lens is the most responsible way to develop a prosperous and diverse economy and community.
This approach should be the main focus in development, tourism, and production.
Sustainable communities have vibrant urban nodes with inviting and safe corridors and commercial centres; a geographical area that combines neighbourhoods, industrial, light industrial, and the urban reserve.
Sustainability is the only way to protect the island’s resources, parks, open space, and water sources.
Some actions council could take:
- Downtown Upgrades: A vibrant downtown will create economic activity in other areas. Update business’s front facades, bylaws to include buskers & food trucks, transform Diana Krall plaza, create business opportunities (year round crafts & farmers market, VIU satellite campus), generate walkable/connectable streets, encourage outdoor patios, maintain public ‘working harbour’ identity
- Sustainable Development: Amend development bylaws to include language that depicts sustainable and passive house ideology, implement the Nanaimo affordable housing strategy, execute community plans and sidewalk creation, and continue to implement the transit plan, including a senior friendly review of routes and times.
- Diversity: Enlist a gendered review of all the language in the city’s policy and bylaws; design leadership training and clear mentorship programs for women, people of colour, and persons with disabilities.
Members of council should engage our partners, constituents, and stakeholders at every opportunity. It is important that all have a voice on issues that impact them.
In order for council to be effective we must listen to the community’s needs so that all aspects of issues can be considered fairly. This can be done with public consultations, partnership meetings, cross-governmental committees (involving Snuneymuxw, the city, the province, and Island health, etc.), and social media.
Snuneymuxw and council’s relationship is broken. I believe the first point of connection should be writing a letter of intent, then meeting with the Snuneymuxw council to discuss reconciliation. We need to listen to their concerns in order to foster a respectful cross-government relationship.
In this aging population the needs of senior’s will have to be continually examined and considered in aspects of community planning. To support a more “Senior Friendly” community it would be prudent to solicit feedback from seniors, social service agencies, and Island health. This collaboration will identify the gaps in services and areas in which the city’s planning can be strengthened to better support the needs of our ageing population.
Council needs to be more accessible and accountable in our dealings with the business sector. Council should remain connected to the business community through consultations with organizations that represent business and specific sectors. As a council we need to understand the current issues in the business community and how the decisions we make in council will impact our local economy.
In order for Council to be more accountable to the community, committees need to be restructured to reduce the influence of council members and return power to community members. To do this the majority of seats on committees should be held by members of the community.
A public centred committee should consist of citizens, staff, and council. The majority of participants should be citizens, with council available to support the committee.
Each committee needs a full working mandate in order to make significant recommendations to council. The terms of reference for individual committees should be examined to ensure that all working groups have a strong document to guide their work.
Committees need to stay non-partisan, and we need to develop and implement ways to monitor their process to identify efficiencies and inconsistencies.
Candidate: By any objective standard, I have excellent qualifications as a candidate for City Council. I have a degree in political science; a degree in law with emphasis in constitutional law; post graduate courses in municipal government; 20 plus years running a law practice; 9 years Nanaimo City Councillor (1984-1993); 15 years as Nanaimo Mayor (1993-2008); 20 years on the Nanaimo Regional District.
I have wide community knowledge that would benefit the new Council ranging from City operations and budgeting, economic to environmental to social issues as well as experience in dealing with emergencies. My employment as an Auxiliary Police officer with Victoria City Police under the Law Student Police Program gives me added insight into policing and social needs. My appointment to the BC Premier’s Task Force on Mental Health and Addictions gave me detailed knowledge of the
Why are you running?
Candidate: Restore Good Governance; Stop wasteful spending; Ensure public safety. Nanaimo will have a new Council. Most candidates have little municipal government experience. I can provide reliable experience as someone who knows our civic governance history and can provide important insights as Council considers our serious issues. Nanaimo wants to regain its wide reputation for good governance by a new Council hiring non-partisan professional staff; listening respectfully to issues and concerns, researching and consulting diligently, responding promptly with fair, reasonable, cost efficient solutions while minimizing harmful ramifications. I have the experience and dedication to help achieve those goals. I truly believe that my responsibility is to serve our city in return for all the opportunities it has given me.
Candidate: Restoring the ‘Shared Vision coalition’ of community institutions that worked cooperatively and successfully together and advocated jointly with senior governments to implement City wide priorities should be expanded to include the Aquaculture Visitor Centre proposal which would be an excellent tourism attraction when linked to revitalized Newcastle Island Park amenities and Snuneymuxw First Nation cultural activities. Renew efforts for private investment in Nanaimo including visitor accommodation downtown. Permit higher density & heighth including mixed commercial residential projects. Update tourism and Conference Center marketing and management. Control of spending the current $180,000,000 budget revenue must be Council’s immediate priority. Clearly, Nanaimo citizens are not receiving good value for their contributions to government. Severe homelessness, atrocious road conditions, poor park and trailway conditions, are prime indicators that better City government is sorely needed.
Candidate: By following the fundamental Golden Rule principle of: “Treat others like you would like to be treated.” The new Council must respect their office, each other, staff, and most importantly, their bosses…the citizens of Nanaimo. Effective problem solving through cooperation is key. I will work diligently to reinstate the City’s once positive partnership with the Port Authority, Snuneymuxw First Nation, School District 68, the Regional District, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo Airport, Chamber of Commerce, etc. I seek a safe, secure City every citizen can proudly call home with educational & employment opportunities for all.
Candidate: Committees solely created and advising the new Council must follow the Nanaimo Procedure Bylaw, Robert`s Rules of Order, and their updated terms of reference. After a public call for volunteers, Council, with the advice and recommendation of the new Mayor, would vote to appoint members. Usually there is a rotating Chair but, in some instances, Council appoints the Chair whose obligation is ensure orderly conduct, full and fair debate, and completing the business of meetings. All committee members serve at the discretion of Council.
Committees created with external partners follow processes negotiated between the creating bodies…often with dual or rotating Chairs.
For any council to be effective, it is vital to appoint Councillors to committees they are interested in and have knowledge of. If elected, I would highly encourage the new Mayor to meet privately with each Councillor to better determine their respective priorities and wishes enabling him to recommend, for Council ratification, diverse and fair committee composition and work loads.
- How would you describe the role you are seeking (mayor or councilor) and how do your skills, experience and qualifications prepare you to take on this serious and complex role?
A city councilor needs to be a representative of their constituents, they must understand the individuals that placed them in that position and fight to vocalize their needs. They must ensure those needs are being meet and have the foresight to organize and plan for those needs to be meet in the future as the city grows and its dynamics change. A councilor works with other council members, committees, and stakeholders to build the partnerships necessary for compromise and assure that the foundation of the city is built with no group being unrepresented.
It is important to note communities are groups of organizations and people. As such the City Council should be made of a diversity of councilors who each are representing the citizens that have placed them there.
I have always felt that my greatest personal attributes have been my resourcefulness and adaptability with the determination that a solution is always in reach. Anyone who knows me would testify to my ability to work through issues in a calm and methodical manner. They would also probably tell you I am painfully logical.
My life as a student at VIU had me completing a BSc in Fisheries while completing a variety of First Nation courses as electives and afterward doing an Environmental Professional Certification. I also hold a Red Seal trade. My working career has taken me across Canada on an array of short term and long term projects. Always different tasks and consistently different people and personalities.
The council needs to speak with the communities and cities that have been in our position before us. Globally, Nanaimo has been recognized and people are coming. Businesses are coming. Let’s speak with the communities and municipalities that are 5, 10, 15 years ahead of us in size and growth. Ask them which past plans and decisions where beneficial to them, which were not and what they wish they had done while still at 100 000 population.
Reach out to business and stakeholders. Develop an understanding of the hurdles and needs that currently exist and what is essential for them to draw the best talent and employees to our community. Review the hurdles of ALR owners and bring in local produce production.
Determine the values our constituents demand for our community and plan and organize to maintain them. It is my belief that the next ten years will be prosperous for Nanaimo and when we look back from 2028 we will not recognize the city we see today as we know it in size and design but it does not mean we need to lose our principles and values.
Urban planning will be critical and of the utmost importance. As stated above inspiration should be taken from municipalities that have grown before us. I cannot stress this subject enough. Urban planning will determine the direction this city will take. From the number of cars on the road, the successes of our businesses even to the attitudes of the individual.
“Think globally, Act locally”
It is a wonderful and often repeated phrase but large number of the key issues that affect this municipality are also affecting municipalities all over the island. I would like to bring unity to the municipalities and lobby the Provincial and Federal government on key legislation and decisions as one LOUD voice. A voice that is consistent in its message and consistently delivered refusing to be ignored.
Our local actions will be with our partners. Partnerships with various groups are what make a community and a community makes a city. Nanaimo has a large assortment of partnerships with wonderful groups that are consistently working to make our community more vibrant, more diverse and engaged. They are keeping our youth and seniors active and our streams and rivers thriving. These groups do more work on the ground than a council can ever hope to accomplish. With openness partnerships should be presented and reviewed to ensure they align with the values of the community afterwards the council should do all it can to help these partnership flourish and give them the autonomy to accomplish each of their individual goals. It is through our partnerships with the community at large that we ensure our constituents and stakeholders needs are heard and met.
Served and supported is an understatement about the importance of committees. The establishment of committees allows the proper review of a multitude of issues and day to day operations of the city of Nanaimo. They are essential to the efficient operation of the council. As such these committees need to be built with confidence, too the appropriate size for their task and have capable individuals with experience. If a committee is not held in confidence by the council, the stakeholders or the constituents it will destroy the flow of operations.
The council should regularly review its committees:
- Is the committee still relevant?
- How often the individual committee should be reviewed.
- Are the goals and direction of the committee clear and detailed?
- Are timelines necessary and if so what they should be?
- Have the needs and scope changed, if so what alterations should be done?
- Has the committee been delivering clear, detailed and accurate information to the council?
Committees should be built with volunteers, professionals and recruited individuals. Elections for committees should be done when deemed necessary or the confidence of stakeholders, partners or citizens is in question. After which they need to be allowed to operate autonomously the efficiency of the council depends on it. Reporting information as the committee finds imperative or at the predetermined dates.
There are many roles for a Councillor, for me the primary role is to be engaged and represent the people of Nanaimo. To make decisions and encourage Council Members to find the common ground for the common good. The responsibilities of a Councillor and Council are to set the strategic direction for the City, including creation of policies and procedures and the adoption of bylaws. A Councillor contributes to the decision when adopting financial plans, short term and long term, and the allocation of the resources from services and programs, to capitol projects. A counsellor can be appointed to the RDN, but also will be appointed to one or two committees, where valuable input and advise is provided to support decision making of the Council. My past leadership experience as a School Trustee, chairing both the Education and Business Committees, President of Tourism Nanaimo, and current board experience with Community Futures contributes to my knowledge of good governance, Robert’s rules and how to work collaboratively. I have sat on various committees and task forces over the years and was a member of the Social Planning Development Committee for eight years. These skills along with my business background and 20 years of management experience have prepared me for this very important position.
- Outline the approaches and actions you think council should take to help foster a
prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse Nanaimo economy and community.
Social and environmental responsibility go hand in hand with healthy economy.
In order to achieve our goals we must have a vibrant economy that provides a variety of career and business opportunities. EDC was created from the Economic Development Group comprised of stakeholders involved in our local economy such as the Chamber of Commerce, VIU, Airport Authority, Port Authority, Tourism Nanaimo, Snuneymewx First Nations and the Indigenous community, to name just a few. Council must ensure that EDC has strong, knowledgeable leadership working to attract new businesses and investments into our economy. Definition of EDC:
“This office leads and mobilizes the community, local agencies, organizations and businesses to develop and implement strategies that will assist in strengthening our local economy. “
It is important for businesses to know that their employees have a safe, affordable place to live and raise their families. Some of the new economic drivers for our city need to be based on technology, innovation, creativity, tourism, and the knowledge economy.
We can lead with good governance, creating a positive work culture for all employees who work hard to serve our city, so they will feel respected, valued and engaged.
Nanaimo has many areas we need to focus, from social issues like housing and food security, improvement in public transportation, revitalization of our downtown, the implementation of the Nanaimo action plan to end homelessness to environmental goals of protecting our watersheds, achieving zero-waste for our items that can be recycled/reused, keeping all our neighbourhoods, clean, green and safe. In order to achieve our vision for the future it is imperative we have a healthy economy.
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- Describe your vision, approach and tactics for how you as a councillor and council as a body should engage with its various partners, stakeholders and constituents.
My vision to bring together our various partners is to task staff with providing us options of how, when and where we can come to together to rebuild the relationships we had in the past.
Different organizations, levels of government, stakeholders will need to be approached so we can determine the steps that will be most appropriate. I would like to see the city rebuild relationships with all of our stakeholders and partners. Snuneymuxw First Nations and the Indigenous Community, Federal and Provincial ministries, VIU, VIHA, SD#68, RDN, Nanaimo Chamber, Nanaimo Port Authority, business and neighbourhood associations, all the non-profits that service our community.
A letter from the City could be sent to inform everyone that we are a new council, ready for new beginnings, and open for business.
As an individual councillor I feel it is my responsibility to attend as many meetings for the various organizations in our city and neighbourhood associations as I can. I want to know all of our neighbourhood associations. In order to represent and understand the needs of our citizens I must be present to listen and advocate on their behalf.
Citizens must know that they are welcome to attend and speak at our City Council meetings. That we are open to listening, that we value input from our community and our decisions will be based on the common good for all.
I would like to see a review of our committees as soon as possible after elected.
The current council chose to merge committees, specifically the Social Planning, Arts and Culture and Grants Advisory Committees into the Community Vitality Committee. Each of these committees on their own had the ability to focus on the issues they were tasked with. I do not understand how it is possible to cover these comprehensive areas and receive valuable community input there is not a clear mandate for each. I would like to see the return of the Advisory Committee on the Environment and a revisit on how the committees were structured in previous councils. I would like to encourage that every committee has a dedicated seat for a youth representative. We must also strive to ensure that our committee structure is balanced and inclusive. On SPAC I have experienced being the Chair or part of the committee when a Council Member chaired. I believe to truly listen and engage as a Council member the time would be better served sitting at the table listening and asking questions rather than Chairing. The council member would not have voting privileges as the advice is from the committee to the Council.
I see my role as Councillor is, quite simply: a representative of the people.
I, along with my wife, have made Nanaimo our home raising two fine young boys here. I am very active in the Community, holding our 12 Annual Robby Burns – Chinese New Years, and in our 7th year of broadcasting (as volunteers) SinoNaimo News, a radio show, where we make Nanaimo culture available both in English and Chinese, reaching out to those holding events and giving them a platform to discuss it. I have had considerable experience working on political campaigns at all levels, including campaign for women who went on to become Cabinet Ministers. I stepped up and ran in the 2004 Federal election here in Nanaimo. I have been practicing law for 29 years, 27 of which in Immigration which has given me great insight to what businesses in Nanaimo need and the importance of ‘growing’ a vital, vibrant City. It has also allowed me to hone my ‘people problem solving’ skills, I have a Masters Degree in Mathematics and a law degree, both from U of Toronto.
I feel my long experience and educational achievements make me uniquely suited to approaching even the most difficult of community problems critically, objectively, viewing all side, getting to the heart of the problem and carefully constructing a solution that takes into account, in a fair, transparent and just manner, all important considerations, and, most fundamentally, serving the Will of the People.
If we make Nanaimo a place for people from all places, backgrounds and experience, including young families, to be prosperous, express themself and achieve their personal goals and dreams, in a sustainable fashion then I feel Nanaimo will naturally grow with them into a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse economy and community.
I feel that the most important first step is to reach out to all the Community to get input into how they, we, view our fine City and what they, we, want for the future of Nanaimo.
There are many ways to obtain this, without expending large amounts of money – their should never be a referendum that is turned down by a 80% vote. I think that the Committee structure is very well suited to this based on transparency and out-reach and augmented through social media.
I feel that a good first step is to consider how we may best make use of City facilities – for example, making more use of the Conference Centre, Diana Kroll Plaza and the Harbourfront Walkway.
I feel making Nanaimo affordable to young families is vital, as well as, encouraging Culture and the Arts, and, another is to create an environment where new businesses can take root, where they can make that important business decision to set up in Nanaimo. This includes reaching out and once here actively assisting is setting up, finding resources including workers.
I feel the most important thing in engaging anyone, or group, whether it be partners, stakeholders or constituents, and whether it be big or small, is transparency and an honest and manifest desire to come to a resolution where all feel their interests have been taking into account in a fair, transparent and just manner, absent of special interests, and, most fundamentally, as an elected representative, that ‘Serves the Will of the People’.
I feel that this comes about through open and frank discussion where the “agenda” is on the table, and not hidden, critical analysis, sufficient input from all parties and clear and open communications with all. This is especially for the members of the community, since, if not for them, then why would I be doing it at all.
As a practical matter, I feel keeping the public appraised of matters and how they are proceeding is the duty of every Councillor. This can be done by open Forum, Committee, the traditional media and, now Social media . I think once people know that information will be disseminated in these fashions they will respond accordingly. It is then important that they have the means of inputting their voice, again through Committee, social media, good old fashioned telephone and attending Council meetings, and making Council meetings available, not only on TV, but also, Social media as well, and considering other reasonable manners people may feel useful and appropriate.
Committees are essential to the good governance of a City. They work in two fashions: from Council to Community; and, from Community (normally be volunteers) to Council. They should be focused on specific and related issues. There should be, at least one, member of Council connected to it. It should be mandated to not simply disseminate the Council’s will, but, importantly, to facilitate input from the Community. One, traditional manner, is public sittings. However, modern communications, such as the media and Social Media (Web) can facilitate input from the Community, as well as disseminate information to them.
City Hall affects peoples’ lives in a grass roots fashion. So, making information available to everyone and implementing facilities to allow them to have direct, unimpeded input is vital. Phoning a Councillor and/or attending meetings is a traditional way. But, having Committees allows people to focus on one, or a related group of issues. It promotes openness and transparency and tends to instill confidence in the people that narrow, hidden, special interest are not “taking over the agenda”.
Also, 8 Councillors (and one Mayor) may not get it, but 90,000 plus resident Nanaimo can’t be all wrong. Drawing from such a large and diverse base, encourages an approach of: critically, objectively, viewing all side, getting to the heart of the problem and taking an essential part in the careful construction of solutions that take into account, in a fair, transparent and just manner, absent of narrow or special interests.
- My experience on various boards has prepared me to put my name forward to run for the 2018 Municipal election. I am seeking the position of a councillor. I have both experience and qualifications for this serious and complex role. I have served on Nanaimo City Council for two terms from 2002- 2008. I also served on the Regional District of Nanaimo from 2005-2008. During my 6 years on Council, I chaired and served on many committees. I have also served on the Port of Nanaimo Board for past 8 years and was the Chair of the Board from 2013-2015. I am at present Director of Vancouver Island University Foundation Board. I am also a Past member of Nanaimo Oceanside Rotary and served as a President for one term and achieved Paul Harris designation. I have always been involved in many Chamber events and have helped raised funds for many deserving charities in Nanaimo.
- The first approach and action that the elected Councillors should take to help foster a prosperous, vibrant community is to start rebuilding the organization. There has been a lot of brain drain in the recent past and we need to hire a qualified CAO that can lead this organization and create healthy working environment and also sets goals and priorities for the City. This will help to create a healthy environment to attract businesses and investments into our community and will create sustainable long term jobs. The Council should involve the community leaders and residents in creating a diverse and inclusive community as I feel that building a vibrant community is a shared responsibility. The Council also needs to focus on creating a safe and healthy environment, promoting arts and culture and tackling the homelessness. Communities with good Social programs and reliable transportation help foster a prosperous ,vibrant and sustainable community.
- The people of Nanaimo have lost trust in our council and leadership. We need to restore the trust of the citizens of Nanaimo, How we are going to achieve that is by listening, communicating and consulting with the citizens of Nanaimo. This relationship building will take some time as council as a body need to portray their actions that they are listening and consulting with the people. Needless to say that the relationship with the stakeholders is at its worst, such as, SFN, Port of Nanaimo, Airport and Vancouver Island University. Council as a body need to re-engage all these stakeholders in an open and meaningful dialogue. The council needs to meet with these organizations on regular basis and discuss the goals and priorities of the city and the region as a whole. My vision is to have all the stakeholders collaborating and working together for one common goal of attracting businesses and creating a prosperous and vibrant community.
- Most Public boards rely on committees work and all the committee’s term of reference needs to be well defined. The framework for the council committees is set out in a Provincial Legislation. Under the community Charter there are two types of committee’s Standing and Select. The Standing committees are established by the Mayor and the Select Committee’s are established by the Council. The purpose of the committees is gather and evaluate information and give the recommendations to the City Council. The committees can be only structured as per the Provincial Legislation. The Committee’s also help reduce the cost to taxpayers and helps with reducing the time spent by staff on committee work. The committee’s also gives opportunity to the residents to be involved in municipal affairs.
1) How would you describe the role you are seeking (mayor or councillor) and how do your skills, experience and qualifications prepare you to take on this serious and complex role?
A councillor should earnestly serve and be responsible to all citizens of Nanaimo.
I have attended meetings, asked questions, appeared as a delegate and presented information to council for years. I worked with City Staff in 2010 to create a training manual for the TaxiHost Program for both Swiftsure and AC Taxi companies. I was Chair of the NoVote2017 Society, which opposed the Event Centre. Currently I am a spokesperson for the Community Engagement Task Force.
A councillor must have significant knowledge of the city.
Four decades of experience in limousine, bus, taxi, and airline businesses in and around Nanaimo have given me extensive knowledge of transportation and infrastructure needs. Also, as moderator for the Facebook Group, “You know you’re from Nanaimo when,” I have a tremendous understanding of the history of Nanaimo.
A councillor must understand the budget process.
As regional representative for Sooter Studios, I oversaw budgets, forecasted expenditures, estimated income, while administrating regional outlets across British Columbia.
A councillor must understand municipal and regional governance responsibilities.
Mentored by Tommy Douglas and Frank Ney, and inspired by Dale Lovick’s political teachings, I learned how municipal governance differed from provincial governance.
A councillor must have communication skills.
I achieved my Able Toastmaster award in my first two years as a member of Toastmasters International. I taught public speaking at VIU (then Malaspina College), Cedar 4H club, and to Miss Nanaimo contestants. I volunteered as Secretary, Educational Vice President and Club President of Toastmasters.
2) Outline the approaches and actions you think council should take to help foster a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse Nanaimo economy and community.
An effective Economic Development Office is critical to the future of Nanaimo. In the last few years, the Economic Development Office has mainly concentrated on residential improvements. However, I believe we need to diversify our economy to create sustainable jobs for residents.
Nanaimo residents need full-time jobs, instead of trying to juggle two or three part-time, minimum wage jobs. They need jobs that provide good incomes so they can afford to rent or buy homes and land. To do that, we need a cohesive council that is open to new possibilities while being considerate of the ramifications of their decisions. A forward thinking incoming council can work together to modify our OCP and zoning amendments to effect necessary changes as we pass the 100,000 population mark.
Currently, we have a proposal for automobile dealerships on the former home of Long Lake Nursery. This $10M project will create an estimated 70 jobs in sales, parts, and servicing of automobiles ranging from $60,000-$150,000 per year, plus creating apprenticing partnerships with VIU. To make this happen, we need our council to make small zoning and OCP changes.
This is just one example of the types of projects we need to create a sustainable economic future for Nanaimo. Taking financial pressure off residents by giving them diverse opportunities to earn a higher income will go a long way towards solving our homelessness problem, help other areas of our local economy prosper, and add vibrancy to our communities.
3) Describe your vision, approach and tactics for how you as a council member and council as a body should engage with its various partners, stakeholders and constituents.
The answer, in a word: MANNERS.
More specifically: To show respect, even when none is shown. To listen, question, and seek information. To come to an understanding. To come together with openness and trust.
Not to browbeat, or bully, or push people around.
But also, not to be a puppet. To stand firm for what I believe in, for what’s best for the residents of Nanaimo. To be the best representative I can be for the people of this wonderful city.
4) Nanaimo Council is served and supported by a series of committees. How should these committees be structured, mandated and governed?
British Columbia’s Community Charter outlines specifics relating to Standing Committees, Select Committees and Municipal Commissions. The City of Nanaimo needs to return to the basics contained within the Community Charter.
The role of a councillor is to provide respectful leadership to create a healthy prosperous Nanaimo for all our citizens. It is important to obtain citizen input and with the assistance of the CAO to develop policies for social, economic and cultural development. A councillor needs to be willing to work in a respectful, collaborative environment with Mayor, Council and staff that allows for the values of individual stakeholders to be heard when discussing the issues of the day. I am rooted in the community and bring a diverse skill set to the table. With a strong work and volunteer history with municipal, provincial and federal governments, I have advocated for local citizens and non-profits, researched policy and fulfilled representational responsibilities. Previously, under my own consulting business, I worked to bring neighbourhoods and developers together to create complete communities that satisfy the needs of seniors, families and businesses. As the Director of Community Development for the Nanaimo Clippers, I shared my knowledge of volunteerism with the young hockey players. Their volunteer reach in our community had the Nanaimo Clippers nominated for the first time with the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce.
I would work with Mayor, Council and the Economic Development department to create an economic development vision and plan for Nanaimo. An organizational structure would need to include consultations with committees, businesses and citizens to guide economic growth. We need to:
- create a positive atmosphere to attract potential investors
- to recognize the success of our local businesses and celebrate the benefits they have brought
- attract outside investment with incentives that will create new jobs and attract young professionals
- bring back those investors who have decided to invest in other communities • create clean industry • support our tourism
- support our arts and culture
The West Coast of Canada is attracting immigrants from all over the globe, we should be developing relationships with the organizations that represent the diverse face of our community. While the unemployment rate in Nanaimo has generally gone down, there is a stubborn pocket of poverty in our city where we have had no success. This is where we need help from the Province with a poverty reduction plan and work with Nanaimo’s non-profit organizations and use their knowledge and skills to improve the lives of people who experience poverty. As Council, we do not have the authority to increase people’ s incomes though we can create conditions so that people can access:
- a home
- childcare spaces in their neighbourhoods
Council also needs to implement the ideas and actions identified in the Homelessness 2018 report. These are all within the authority of Nanaimo’s Mayor and Council.
My vision would be to find a way to engage citizens that allows closer contact with councillors and city staff. Knowing that Public Hearings are not the most effective way of communication with citizens, I am looking forward to the future Community Engagement Task Force recommendations. This project is a good guideline for success and would encourage the concept to be implemented for all community issues that require consultations. Engaging with the Federal, Provincial and First Nation governments as well as School District 68 will be particularly important over the upcoming months and throughout the term. I will seek regular meetings as a group to discuss issues of mutual concerns at the table. I will work with council to setup a bi-annual round table meetings with local stakeholders such as, but not limited to, the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, Nanaimo Port Authority, Vancouver Island University and Island Health Authority to discuss our stakeholders local issues and concerns for the current year. At the end of the round table I would expect the outcome to consist of a list of stakeholder priorities and an action plan.
The committees should consist of two city councillors and citizen representation. Ideally, the committees will be made up of people with a wide range of interests and expertise who want to participate in public service. The committees should be appointments through council with specified tasks and annual reports. Each committee should have a specific statement of purpose and function, which will be re-examined periodically by city council to determine the committees effectiveness. The current committees need to be immediately dismantled an than restructured. Restructuring should only take place after extensive consultation with citizens and stakeholders with the help of city staff. Two committees that come to mind that need to be immediately brought back are the Environmental Committee and a Downtown Revitalization Committee. I would support our city staff’s anti-poverty initiative and demonstrate leadership by continuing the city’s poverty reduction initiatives. City committees are the direct voice of our community and their input needs to be sought and respected.
1] How would you describe the role you are seeking (mayor or councillor) and how do your skills, experience and qualifications prepare you to take on this serious and complex role?
In seeking a Council position, I will be entering into an important partnership with my fellow Council members, Municipal Staff and the Community. I can and will work diligently with council members to reach consensus on how to move forward on complex community issues. I will make the development of good communication with City Staff a priority and give respect to staff for their professional input. My focus on good community partnerships means that I will make a priority to connect with all the Neighbourhood Associations and participate actively in Open Houses/Townhall meetings on various topics where I promise to listen carefully and give serious consideration to all the neighbourhood’s concerns.
I bring years of professional experience to the job of City Councilor. My 35 years of social work in various positions in both the social/justice systems have taught me how to work well with diverse and sometimes challenging groups of people. It also taught me how to make challenging and unpopular decisions when they are necessary.
My experience as a front-line responder in child protection and as a Team Leader for Youth Protections, has taught me the importance of listening and the importance of being respectful to everyone. I have also worked cooperatively with many of the First Nations on the Central and South Vancouver Island.
I believe that both my university training and professional experience gives me the analytical, prudent, and caring attitude necessary to seek a seat on City Council.
2} Outline the approaches and actions you think council should take to help foster a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse Nanaimo economy and community.
When considering the promotion and cultivation of a thriving, prosperous Nanaimo, there are several actions and approaches that can be taken:
(1) Continued support to the business community by improving communications with the Chamber of Commerce, Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, Nanaimo Homebuilders and other similar business associations.
(2) Consider more opportunities to consult with business owners in all areas of the City to listen and develop concrete action strategies to address local concerns.
(3) Continue to work with the Regional District to improve the Regional transportation plan with a view towards reducing traffic congestion and improving transit services.
(4) Formulate a motion directing each City Department to review their own operations and examine opportunities to reduce fossil fuel energy use. Build a timed action plan to move ahead on the Strategies outlined in the Nanaimo Affordable Housing Strategy and the Nanaimo Community Plan to End Homelessness that includes complete consultation with the whole community at large.
(5) Encourage the development of more local events and activities throughout the city, similar to the Thursday Night Market.
(6) Continue to improve and expand the local recycling opportunities to cover all aspects of handling garbage.
(7) Revisit the Transportation Plan to update a number of crucial issues and implement an Action Plan to move forward with other outstanding issues that directly affect the quality of life of Nanaimo’s citizens.
3] Describe your vision, approach and tactics for how you as a council member and council as a body should engage with its various partners, stakeholders and constituents.
When describing my vision, approach and tactics for public/private engagement, I see a collaboration of openness and respect between all parties.
I would make the excellent consultative model that was used in the development of the recent Affordable Housing Strategy the model for moving forward in ALL development in Nanaimo. The process included a steering committee that was truly representative of public and private housing providers, home builders, representatives from real estate and Vancouver Island University. Stakeholder consultations with Government, service providers and the private sector, as well as many public community consultations, were held where there was a genuine opportunity for input. Taking this inclusive approach led to the development of a thoroughly comprehensive plan that should provide a blueprint for Municipal action for the next decade.
True community consultation and transparency could have prevented some of the local controversies that have arisen over the last few years such as the Colliery Dam issue and the proposed housing projects for people experiencing homelessness.
I believe the City has not had a comprehensive communication strategy for several years and would encourage that one be developed with a focus on true community consultation.
4] Nanaimo Council is served and supported by a series of committees. How should these committees be structured, mandated and governed?
The Committees currently identified by City Council and filled with selected volunteers could be so much more valuable to Council than they are now.
As a sitting member of the Public Safety Committee for the City, I can see the value of Citizen input but do not feel that the potential of advisory committees is appreciated to the degree that it should.
I will work with my fellow Council members and existing Committee members to make the Committee system one that better serves the needs of the City and that puts more value on the input from those Committees.
I would also work to establish a process that would bring all the Committee members and Council Chairs together as a group to better understand the Municipal Committee structure, the joint purposes of the various committees, and how they might work hand-in-hand to make Nanaimo a more vibrant community.
Better communication of the role of Municipal staff in the committee structure will be important to improving the system and solidifying the relationship of Municipal staff with the various committees needs to be explored.
- Represent citizens of Nanaimo on Council and at RDN
- set strategic direction for short, medium and long term goals
- set annual budgets and levy taxes that create financial sustainability
- participate in public hearings
- participate in city/council mandated committees
- understand and abide by legislation/bylaws/policies/community charter that govern council members for the benefit of all
- Approach issues with an open mind to ensure strong evidence-based decision making
- ensure good governance and understand Roberts Rules of Order
- work collaboratively and respectfully with the CAO and city staff
- foster beneficial community partnerships and seek out external expertise as required
- uphold the tenets of truth and reconciliation in all decision making
- support city arms length infrastructure such as economic development and tourism
- create a strong level of trust between the public and council
- participate in community consultation and community events and act as city ambassador
- take part in conferences, networking and educational opportunities relevant to your role
My life experience and career, especially my 20 years as a leader in the non-profit sector and two years on city council, provided me with a clear knowledge of the following:
- Fiscal responsibility and financial sustainability working with complex budgets
- Strong Leadership and collaboration
- Good governance and strategic planning
- Excellent communication skills
- Ability to think globally and act locally
- Forging meaningful partnership both for programs and for a $2.5Million capital campaign
- Knowledge of Human resources through management of 14 staff and 250 volunteers
Forge strong partnerships, draw from previous committee and task group work including the City’s plans for affordable housing and social supports, the 2016 Core Review, the work done on the Nanaimo Downtown Waterfront, the Terminal Nicol Corridor, and the First Nations Protocol Agreement to name a few.
- We cannot plan for our waterfront without including the Port Authority and First Nations;
- Upgrade transportation without revisiting the Transportation Plan and engaging the public;
- Respond to the needs of housing and the homeless without looking at the City Poverty Reduction Plan, and consulting with the public, the Ministry of Housing and Poverty Reduction, Nanaimo Affordable Housing and BC Housing. We must get back to the table and speak to higher levels of government to ensure that we have a productive relationship and are prepared for new opportunities;
- Attract economic development without providing infrastructure, either within city hall or at arms’ length;
- Provide good governance without a clear understanding of Roberts Rules of Order and the Community Charter;
- Make good evidence based decision making without qualified staff that can assist council.
We must set our intention to work collaboratively and respectfully as a team, starting with council and moving outward to staff, the public and our community/provincial/federal partners.
We must keep in mind that we are making decision for our entire constituency, whether their focus is on business, economic development, poverty reduction, affordable housing, lifestyle, employment opportunities and so much more.
My vision is a healthy vibrant city governed on the principles of inclusion, respectful collaboration and trust. Engagement can occur at council meetings, in committees, at external board tables, at other government levels, and through public presentations and consultation. It is important that the city engages experts in the field of public consultation when seeking buy-in from the community on controversial issues.
There is much work to be done. Some of our partnerships have faltered including First Nations and the Port Authority. Three arms length city mandated organizations who partnered with the city to create economic growth, attract tourism, and create a vibrant downtown have been dissolved. We must reengage and rebuild.
All aspects of our society must be considered stakeholders across the economic spectrum from the wealthy to the homeless and working poor. Participants must be able to see a relationship between any consultation process and the final outcome. Whether its community, the unions, firefighters, RCMP, advocates for the oppressed, or the provincial government, council must be able to successfully distill feedback to allow them to do what they were elected to do: be prepared to make the hard decisions for the good of the whole.
Not everyone’s feedback will be reflected in the final decision, but if the consultation process is effective, then chances of building trust and getting buy-in, no matter who council engages with, are greater.
One of the hardest lessons to learn on council is you cannot please everyone all of the time.
- Nanaimo Council is served and supported by a series of committees. How should these committees be structured, mandated, and governed.
It is council’s responsibility to ensure that the committee structure and reporting meets their needs for good decision making while at the same time providing opportunities for public input and expertise that can reduce workload.
Once the application process and recruitment to the committees is complete the Terms of Reference must be reviewed by committee members and approved by council. Members of the public must be encouraged to join committees and they must feel valued and heard.
Each committee must have:
- Terms of Reference
- Clear application and appointment processes
- Defined roles for committee members
- Clear goals and objectives based on Council’s strategic plan and initiatives
- A code of conduct that governs each participant
- Defined resources (administration, funding/budgets if applicable, and internal and external expertise from staff and/or other experts
- Access to clear timelines and scope of work
- Accountability and reporting processes (including agendas, minutes, and reports to council)
Some committees will be ongoing (advisory and standing committees, etc). Some may be defined as task groups where the scope of work is defined and time limited. Some may meet regularly while others may meet at the call of the chair. Some may require extensive research (vetting applications from community organizations for city grants). Some will have more involvement from council than others (finance and audit committee) and some may require certain levels of professional expertise (design advisory panel). Every committee should reflect a cross section of our community whenever and wherever possible.
I would describe the role of a councillor as someone that is elected to represent the well-being and best interests of a city and its citizens as a whole for a four-year term. A councilor is someone that contributes greatly to a city’s development and future. Someone that is responsible for reviewing municipal programs and policies. A councillor takes part in many meetings besides council ones which must be attended, and sits on city committees. A councilor is someone that can obey laws, procedures, legislation and rules. To be a councillor in Nanaimo, one must be willing to put in 50+ hours a week at time. A councillor is someone that listens to their constituents and their concerns. A councillor is someone that works with other levels of government and stakeholders to achieve goals that are in the best interest for the community.
Most of my experience has come from serving on committees that have a governance focus. I currently chair the Nanaimo Youth Advisory Committee, a committee which I have been on since 2015. I served on the City of Nanaimo’s Canada 150 committee and have served on over half a dozen committees at Vancouver Island University, including the Students’ Union, Alumni Board and the University’s Senate. I have learnt a lot from being on these committees, especially about effective governance and strategic planning. I am in my last semester of a double major in history and political studies which has also helped prepare me for this position.
Firstly, we need to work with what is already there. We need to have a strong and supportive relationship with the places that benefit Nanaimo economically the most, places such as Vancouver Island University and the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. We need to be supportive and collaborative. We need to work closely with the Port Authority and their goals. We need to focus more on strengthening our city’s culture and heritage to help increase tourism. We are a unique city with our own identity, we need to push that more. We need to work closely with the Regional District and the province to advocate for more public transit, so more of our citizens can easily get around and contribute to the community and local economy, while at the same time, lowering our carbon footprint with an increase in transit ridership. We must work together to tackle affordable housing and poverty so more citizens have the extra time and money that is needed to contribute more to our economy and community.
My first priority will be to rebuild and strengthen our relationships with our various partners, stakeholders and most importantly, constituents. We need to build trust with all of these entities. We must demonstrate to them that we are professional and progressive. We must treat them all with respect, even if at times one disagrees with them. We need to have regular meetings with other levels of government and must have dialogue with ministers and representatives at both levels of government. When it comes to dealing with the other levels of government, we need to go in there knowing what we want and almost with a script. It is essential when dealing with ministers to have had gone through their mandate letters and to hold them and their government accountable to the values outlined in their letters. We need to work collaboratively and openly with our stakeholders and partners and must aim to be more transparent with our constituents. In November, we need to immediately start building those relationships with government, non-profits, Snuneymuxw First Nation, economic staples to our local economy.
I have been a part of two city committees and understand their importance and potential. City committees are cost efficient and have so much potential. Committees have strategic directions which help to keep people on track, but they should not be fully mandated by council. Committees should have some leeway when it comes to deciding some of their strategic priorities because often, committee members, who are selected by council and staff, have a relevant background in the area of interest. City committees are created for a reason and are mandated by their terms of reference. I do not see too many problems with the way our committees are currently structured and mandated, however, I am in favour of restructuring the city’s vitality committee, which focusses on social planning, but also culture and heritage. To me, this simply makes no sense. If elected, I would advocate for there to be a new culture and heritage committee which also has a strong focus on increasing tourism. Social planning deserves its own committee and focus. I am also in favour of brining forth a new sustainability advisory committee, because since it has been disbanded, the conversation is simply not happening.
1) What about your personal or professional background has prepared you for public office?
2) What would you say are your core values as they relate to being on city council?
3) What would you see as the key issues in Nanaimo?
4) What would be your approach to dealing with those issues?
How would you describe the role you are seeking (mayor or councillor) and how
do your skills, experience and qualifications prepare you to take on this serious
and complex role?
The true complexity of taking on the position of a City Councilor is that of public trust. By excelling in this role, a Councillor holds this ability by listening to its entire community prior to decision making and also by remaining open to change and progress. Only after listening to all community perspectives on an issue, can a thoughtful and long term community-minded decision be made by Council.
I would like to thank local voters for public trust that I have held over the last 4 years as an elected School Trustee for School District 68. I have listened to all stakeholders, prior to making decisions. I have confidently and respectfully advocated the communities long term needs for many community schools to remain, to enhance services for those with diverse abilities, our long-term population demographics and for adding enhancements to our educational environments. I carefully scrutinized our 150 million dollar budget spending choices and surplus, I have advocated for a governance structure that supports the entire community and also to using a more open community engagement process. As democracy requires a majority council decision, it is important that voters hold all council members to their track record of listening to the entire community. Over the last four years, I have been one of our locally elected officials to do just that, as well as holding true to my pre-election promises.
Outline the approaches and actions you think council should take to help foster a
prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse Nanaimo economy and community.
Beyond my local experience in local government, I have worked in social and medical services, as a counsellor and in retail and sales positions, which have all given me diverse community and economic perspectives. I also have a wide array of exposure to our local Nanaimo job market while working as an Employment Specialist and as a Job Developer. It is clear to me that we need to diversify our economic infrastructure as well as making gains within our local economy. We are well poised to be a city of choice and need to implement best practices to attract emerging technological and green businesses to Nanaimo in addition to supporting and enhancing our existing structures to see our local economy thrive and to see more local well paying jobs that support families and our local economy.
We need to implement a teamwork approach to this emerging issue and also to collectively bridge the gaps that have plagued Nanaimo for years and has hampered its growth. We need to create a clear community vision for our local community, including an economic vision, by truly and openly listening to our business community, taxpayers and voters, prior to action.
Describe your vision, approach and tactics for how you as a councillor and council as a body should engage with its various partners, stakeholders and constituents.
I would like us as a council to improve the overall transparency in how we do business. We need to start off with council bylaw changes to our present closed versus open meeting formats. Closed meetings should be held only for specific privacy details and not for a final vote. After privacy details and initial questions and answers are completed, the entire debate and vote on the matter can be brought into an open meeting. This will greatly improve on the overall transparency, integrity and accountability of council business as all matters are open to the public.
As a local Nanaimo City Councillor, I will commit myself to full time work, making office time available to all constituents as well as being available by phone or email. I believe council needs all details and perspectives prior to decision making, so that our decision is confidently in the direction of progress and our community vision.
I believe also that when we have a clear vision of our entire communities’ priorities, council can then cohesively get behind those priorities, without the council and management behaviours we have seen. We also need a community engagement process where we are clear on Nanaimo’s priorities. I have yet to see a survey start with an open question such as “what is most important to you ?”. After an open and careful community engagement, we will clearly know our priorities and then a councillor, such as myself, can get down to business on your priorities Nanaimo!
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Nanaimo Council is served and supported by a series of committees. How should these committees be structured, mandated and governed?
We need to create a clear community vision for our local committee structures by truly and openly listening to all taxpayers and voters as well as past and present committee members to evaluate inefficiencies, duplication as well as connecting our committee structure to our local long term community vision as well as looking at best practices.
I have recently met with a Governance Manager for a very progressive city and was very intrigued to learn about efficiencies they have found, but I would like to remain open and to first see our entire communities perspective and vision for Nanaimo’s progress.
As a councillor I will be working in a group that has a job to look after the cities best interest.
- I am a member of the Nanaimo Eagles that are, people helping people. I am a member of the Nanaimo Shrine Club, we raise money for the Shrine Children’s hospital. They are groups working together, with a specific goal. I was the President of Golden Spike Days in Port Moody, with a budget of $150,000 and full cooperation of the city. I have been involved in business and have made investments over the years.
- Make sure that the Council is accessible to the public. Cooperate with groups within the city that want to promote the city in a positive light, with some help from the city when needed.
- Understanding, cooperation and communication are essential to any interaction with groups that need to work together on any given project.
- Any committee has to have a Chair or Co-Chair who will keep the meetings in order to the agenda mandated by the Council. The solutions to any problems sent from committee, should be brought back with the recommendation of the committee, with the arguments for their conclusions.
In conclusion, any endeavor in groups needs communication and cooperation to succeed.
Q1. As a councillor, I believe we will need a more collaborative approach to moving the city forward than has been shown over recent years. We now have an opportunity, with a new team, to move the city forward on a sustainable path to a better future. I have been both a union representative, and a management negotiator dealing with union issues. I have attended (twice) the college negotiation course in Staffordshire U.K., in both of those roles, and can attest that the program is dedicated to finding “win-win” solutions. I have served as a school governor during a period of change, for a two year term. In my management career I was responsible for teams of staff between 30 to 5,000 people and had a record of success. In my time as a counsellor, I worked with both individuals and couples, and enjoyed similar rates of success.
Q2. We as a city need to encourage employers to come to the city, and provide good-paying jobs for our young people, rather than forcing them to leave Nanaimo for jobs “over the water”. The University is a good place to learn skills, as well as gain degrees. But not everyone is suited to an academic education. Tradespeople are always in demand, as well as entrepreneurs. We should look for new methods, sites, and other ways to encourage the development of our economy. Make it easy to start a business, and businesses will come to town. Apprenticeships are not currently a city responsibility, but maybe we should look into that, as a way to help citizens of the future.
Here’s an idea. One tenth of the steel used in BC comes from a mill in Alberta, 90% is imported. Build a steel mill near Duke Point, and provide good jobs for young people, who will buy homes and support the community.
Q3.One of my proposals is that we should plant 10,000 trees within the city limits. To do this, we need the homeowners to volunteer to “host” a tree; a company that will grow and supply the trees, and the city staff to install them. In addition, the Parks Department can identify roadside and park property where trees will help beautify the city. This is important since, once grown, a single tree can provide oxygen, and absorb CO2 for four people!
A project like this cannot be done without the approval and support of many stakeholders, the Council, and more importantly, the public must buy into a plan that will take 25 years to show results. Working together like this is the only way to demonstrate a commitment to the future of the city, rather than the shorter term thinking of a political career.
Q4.Commitees have always been seen as a bridge between Council and the public. Chaired by a Councillor, with a staff member as secretary, and individuals from the public and interested groups having the largest voice. I had the privilege to serve on the Grants committee for a few years, and can attest to the utility of such an approach.
- The Courage of Leadership. I am dedicating this campaign to my dad. Reason being, my dad taught my brother and I the true meaning of leadership. He dedicated his life to my mother, brother and my well – being. There is no way I would have been able to go to college and university without my dad’s leadership. When I began my teaching career he was there – going the extra mile – to make sure I was able to “do my best” in the career that I chose. As a teacher and foster carer, my #1 rule for my students/foster children was: Do Your Best. A Mayor and Council’s major objective is to “provide opportunity” for their fellow citizens to attain affordable housing and get a job. My best skill is Team Player. Over the past 35 years, I have learned that without Team Work – nothing gets done. Over the next for years, Nanaimo’s Mayor and 8 Councillors are going to have to work as a strong team to solve the #1 Issue facing the city of nanaimo – An Affordable Housing Crisis. We need to come together and move forward as a city before we can focus 100% on revitalizing downtown nanaimo – to develop a thriving economy. Other skills that I have that will serve me well on council are: consultation, collaboration, advocacy and active listening.
- The Strength of Character. To reiterate, we have to do more as a municipality to solve the affordability housing crisis that has plagued Nanaimo for the past 15 years. To do that, we have to “take advantage” of the pending “downturn” in the Real Estate Boom experienced in BC. A real estate agent told me that the real estate industry in BC goes in 6 to 7 year cycles. If the current boom started in 2012, that means we are on the verge of a downturn in the real estate industry in BC. Meaning, we will be able to house the: poor, working poor, homeless and “hard to house” citizens of Nanaimo. Once we get started on providing a solution to the affordable housing crisis by working with the province and federal government – there is motivation for the federal government to work with municipalities on housing. They will be trying to get re – elected next year. Also, the provincial government is in the 2nd year of its mandate. This year, the BC Government has made affordable housing a high priority. They will want to continue to build on that momentum. Once we have formed a good working relationship with the provincial and federal governments, we can focus on revitalizing Downtown Nanaimo. Specifically: #1 Port Drive, The Waterfront, Diana Krall Plaza , The Alley Way and The A&B Sound Building. In conclusion, Downtown Nanaimo NEEDS to be An Economic Hub – once again. Like it was when Canada’s Greatest Mayor – Frank Ney – was The Mayor of Nanaimo.
- The Power of Tenacity. Ever since I became a grandfather – almost 11 years ago – my vision for the future revolves around my grandchildren. I believe A Diplomatic Approach is ALWAYS the best approach to take in any situation. My experience is that being confrontational, aggressive; being mean and vindictive ALWAYS escalates a situation. My goal in any negative situation is to DE – ESCALATE it. Turning 50 years- old – 7 years ago – was a major turning point in my life. I became very retrospective in my thinking that year – and realized that my outlook on life had to change if I was going to be more successful. Being a City Councillor means that a person is always looking for WIN – WIN situations. To attain win – win situations, a Nanaimo City Councillor needs to practice active/empathetic listening skills with its various partners, stakeholders and constituents. If Nanaimo’s Economy is to become a thriving economy; it’s Mayor and Councillors are going to have to display: respect, gratitude, and appreciation to the women and men of Nanaimo who volunteer their time, skills and dedication to the betterment of their city. Of course, the most important relationship a councilor has is with his/her constituents. I am ready, willing and able to make major decisions that will change Nanaimo for the better.
- The Civic Leadership Series that I participated in during the first week of May 2018, was the best set of workshops I have ever attended! All 4 sessions were excellent. The best one was the last one on May 9th, titled: Enabling A Productive Council. Presented by Dr. Patrick Ross. I have had the priviledge of participating in a Patrick Ross Workshop in the past – a couple of times. The first time was when I was The Program Against Racism Representative during my first year as a classroom teacher in School District #92 – Nisga’a in the 1989 – 90 school year. Dr. Ross gave the keynote speech to the BCTF AGM in 1990. The second time I met him was at the 1998 AGM of the BCSTA – when I was A School Trustee for my hometown of Powell River. On May 9, Patrick Ross presented to the prospective Nanaimo City Councillors an excellent presentation. There were so many concepts and ideas that he presented to us that evening, but the one I liked the most was The Change Matrix. The Change Matrix has 7 concepts that when all are working in unison produce EFFECTIVE CHANGE. If one of the seven are “out of sync” you get: confusion, disorientation, anxiety, drift, frustration, false starts and disconnection. For example, without vision you get confusion. Without attainable objectives you get disorientation. Without skills you get anxiety. Without incentives, you drift Without resources there is frustration. Without an action plan you get false starts. And, without Monitoring and Evaluation, you get Disconnection. So, Nanaimo, on October 20, vote for EFFECTIVE CHANGE . Vote Fred Statham for Nanaimo City Councillor.
- The role of a municipal councillor means being part of a team that will guide the course of our city for the next four years. Having had four years of previous experience on a city council, I believe my experience will be very helpful. The main function of any council is to administer the annual budget in a prudent manner. In the past I have been the chairman of municipal finance committee and have been in charge of multi-million dollar projects and budgets in the private sector. During my working career I spent the majority of my time as a building contractor and feel, once again, that my experience will be beneficial. I hope to introduce a number of policy changes to bring spending under control and also see a more responsible method of controlling bidding, purchasing and administration of our large capital projects. Along with having a functioning council, each member may be called upon to represent the city with more senior levels of government. Again, I have proven years of establishing and maintaining these types of relationships, having dealt with cabinets ministers, Prime Ministers and Premiers. A councillor also needs to be open and available to the citizens. I have already outlined my desire to lessen the number of in camera meetings and to set up public forums where the public can address council on an informal basis on any item that they may have concerns with. My involvement with politics at all levels spans over four decades.
- Maintaining a vibrant, prosperous and sustainable economy must be a prime concern of our council. It means growth, increased services and the ability of our younger people to reside in the city, raise a family and contribute their knowledge to the next generation. As a councillor, I will be pro-active in attracting new viable business to our community, while at the same time, ensuring that existing business remains competitive and prosperous. Recognizing that our economy is rapidly changing, we must be fluid in our response. On being elected, I would like to review the role of the Economic Development office with hopes of providing the manpower necessary to keep our city on the cutting edge in attracting new investments. I also believe that we need to encourage our local business sector by providing incentives through policy changes and lessening regulations that may be holding some existing businesses back. I strongly believe that the business community should lead the way. It is up to council to create an atmosphere where they can flourish. Changes to the building code to ensure that all new commercial structures have the highest speed band width possible, access for product delivery and shipping and provision for talented employees that may have a physical impairment are just a few of the changes we need.
Over the next few decades, I would like to see the heavy industrial end of business relocate to industrial parks such as Duke Point. Development of our harbour and foreshore as a retail, commercial and residential area is where our future lies. Again, our council can help map the future by making zoning and policy changes today for successful growth in the decades to come.
- In order for any enterprise to succeed a team approach is necessary. As a councillor, the very first thing I would do is attempt to reach out to the Chamber of Commerce and renew what once was, an amicable relationship. The same can be said with our fellow citizens within the SFN. I have already committed to making both of these happen, by way of motion, upon election. Any projects on our waterfront must be done in conjunction and with the approval of, SFN the Nanaimo Harbour Authority, localized business groups and the public at large. Our waterfront is the key to a successful future and must be developed in a rational, well thought out manner. Future development of low cost housing must take place in order for our citizens working a lower wages, the be able to stay here. Again, working with the SFN is imperative as over time, they have become and will become, the largest single land owner in our area. Continued work with Tourism Vancouver Island to increase the appeal to our area is vital. Tourism, in the future, may very well become our number one industry. I would be remiss if I did not mention working with VIU in establishing community programs. I fully recognize that a city council has limited powers under the Community Charter and Local Government Acts but working with our partners, the future is almost limitless.
- The current council restructured the then existing committee structure and as a result a number of very talented, community minded individuals were cast aside. A restructuring of the committee system is once again required. A few changes, I would suggest are a) re-establishing the arts and heritage committee to be separate from the community vitality committee. Arts and heritage play a key role in our city’s ability to define itself. Community vitality is a broad subject that should be concentrating more on the social needs and activities of our community. That, in itself, is a huge responsibility. New committees that I would like to see formed include a seniors committee. Our demographic is changing rapidly and the seniors now comprise a large percentage of our population. Council needs to be aware of this fluid situation and with the advice of this committee, provide the services necessary. I would also propose a new committee to deal with affordable housing. We now have a strategy but now we need to take action. The finance and audit committee is redundant as it is basically the committee of the whole. It should be dropped.
Balakrishna (Viraat) Thammanna
- How would you describe the role you are seeking (mayor or councilor) and how do your skills, experience and qualifications prepare you to take on this serious and complex role? Answer: The role I am seeking as a Councilor in our city is to be part of the team of 8 Councilors working under a Mayor for betterment and well-being of Nanaimo, its communities, stake holders, partners and constituents. Myself being an active, motivated achiever since child hood, I acquired necessary education, experience and life skills through various institutions, projects, social services, volunteer work, adventure sports, working with communities and observing politics & politicians in life. To know in detail please visit my web pages in
- Outline the approaches and actions you think council should take to help foster a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse Nanaimo economy and community. Answer: The most important issue is decision making in the council for prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and divers economy and community. To develop our city I like to discuss with most decent manner with entire team or at lest 5 Councilors along with Mayor to arrive at collective decision. Together as a team implement the decision efficiently on a timely manner. Establish close watch on city administration to find where deficiency exists and fix that problem in what ever way feasible asap. Empower exiting business, inviting new investments and innovative ideas to boost our economy and create jobs.
- Describe your vision, approach and tactics for how you as a council member and council as a body should engage with its various partners, stakeholders and constituents. Answer: I would encourage for effective communication first to start with. Will initiate good understandings of requirements of each operation and end result, functioning with cooperation for mutual benefits of all the partners, stakeholders and constituents. Treat all others the same way as how council to be treated.
- Nanaimo Council is served and supported by a series of committees. How should these committees be structured, mandated and governed? Answer: Number one rule is that Council must treat all the committees with formula FFF (Fair friendly and firm). Give them required freedom in their operations with whatever support/help, when it/they ask for. Let it/them function without frequent or unnecessary councils’ involvement (poking nose) or disturbance until it is necessary, wait for the end result as per the time frame. When or if committee/s are heading towards derailing itself, than council must step in to rescue, hold it/them responsible and put them back on track with strict actions.
- The role I am seeking as City Councillor is primarily one of proper governance, working with others to set the future course for the City, and providing oversight. As the B.C. Community Charter indicates, this would include providing strategic direction, ensuring objectives are achieved, managing risks, and using resources responsibly and with accountability. Having completed a four-year term, I am seeking re-election in order to bring my experience and skills to the table to assist in mentoring the many new Councillors who will be elected. I believe I have much to offer. I have served on the City’s Public Safety Committee, Grants Advisory Committee, Community Development Committee among others, and am chair of the Parks, Recreation, and Wellness Committee. I have been one of the City representatives at the Regional District, where I was elected as vice-chair. I sit on the Regional Parks Committee, and chair the Liquid Waste Management Committee. I believe that I bring a mature and thoughtful approach to decision-making, and am known as a voice of reason. I value responsible conduct, and recently received a certificate in local government leadership from the Local Government Leadership Academy. It has been an honour for me to represent the City of Nanaimo for the past four years, and I hope to use my knowledge and experience for another term.
- To help foster a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse Nanaimo economy and community will require Council to revisit its 2016-19 Strategic Plan, and to re-focus on the five broad community values which it identifies: economic health, environmental responsibility, social equity, cultural vitality, and active lifestyle. Unfortunately, too much time during the past term was spent on internal conflicts which detracted from Council’s ability to move business forward and work on priorities. I believe our citizens want a safe, clean, and healthy community. To ensure that we will need to build staff capacity in areas such as bylaw and RCMP enforcement, and park maintenance. Building and development is booming in our city. To facilitate that growth and investment we need to increase staffing to allow for faster processing of permits and development applications. This will help us maintain sustainable growth and a strong economic base which is crucial. Our city’s natural beauty and relative affordability makes it attractive as a business base. We can augment those advantages by offering incentives to developers, and work to increase the number of people living downtown in order to help revitalize the core of the city.
- In today’s world, it is obviously important that Council ensure necessary engagement with its various partners, stakeholders, and constituents. Open, honest, and respectful communication is required. Some of our main community partners include SFN, School Board, Port Authority, VIU, and the Chamber of Commerce. A system of regular consultation with those groups needs to be in place. Relations with SFN have been strained, and the Protocol and Working Group needs to be re-established immediately. We have a City representative to the Port Authority, but more regular reporting needs to be scheduled. Recent joint projects with the School Board have been successful and hopefully we can work together on more projects by maintaining regular communication, either staff to staff or Council to Board. VIU and Chamber of Commerce input would be valuable for such important projects as downtown revitalization and waterfront development, and I would support the re-establishment of the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association. The work of the South Downtown Waterfront Initiative needs to be revisited, and Nanaimo needs to be promoted as a tourism and transportation hub through our work with Tourism Vancouver Island. At the individual level, I would pledge to be as involved in community functions as much as possible, and to always be open to meeting or talking with citizens and groups to hear their opinions.
- Nanaimo Council is served and supported by a series of committees. However, there has been confusion over their structure and mandate. I believe we need to “re-set” our City’s standing and select committees and clarify their functions and governance. Terms of reference, mandates, and objectives need to be set and understood by the membership of all advisory bodies. Under the Community Charter the mayor should appoint standing committees. These would include an Advisory Planning Committee, a Development Process Review Committee, a Governance Steering Committee, a Grants Advisory Committee, Safer Nanaimo Advisory Committee, and the Parks, Recreation, and Wellness Commission. I would like to see the Advisory Committee and Environmental Sustainability re-established, and I would investigate re-forming the Nanaimo Economic Development Committee. I would also like to see a return of the Social Planning Advisory Committee and the South Downtown Waterfront Committee. These are just some, and all would include members of the public and business community. Liaison committees with Port Authority, Airport, Chamber of Commerce, and the Protocol Agreement Working Group with SFN will also serve important roles.
The role of a City Councillor is to provide direction needed for a successful city through consultation and research of issues followed by a decision that will lead to resolution. I have the advantage of being a long time resident of Nanaimo and come with years of experience in a successful small business, volunteerism in business associations, amateur sports, Arts and service to our community. Through this involvement I have gained insight into the roll that organizations such as the United Way and the Salvation Army provide to our community.
The new council must work as a team to ensure that our City staff can work in a partnership style environment to empower and enable in a less stressful environment. Improving the permit process time, forming meaningful partnerships for economic development, and developing a long term plan for asset management are key issues that need the input from knowledgeable members of staff. Social issues can have a negative impact on our economy. There needs to be a proactive rather than a reactive approach to these issues. We must be ready with recommendations when senior governments approach the city with funding to provide solutions. Enabling Nanaimo’s Action plan to end homelessness and encouraging the Provincial Government to improve and apply the BC Mental Health and Substance use Strategy need to be a priority.
As a Councillor there are three levels of communication needed in the engagement with partners, stakeholders and constituents. As an individual councillor, prior to the decision making process, fact finding should be done on an individual basis with an open mind. Listening skill is paramount during this process as there is a need for the constituent to explain fully their concern and thoughts on the specific topic. During the decision making process at the Council level members should respectfully debate their thoughts on the issue based on what they have learned from their fact finding. Once the decision has been made, whether you agree with it or not, an individual councillor must not undermine the decision publically if he/she did not agree with it.
Committees are a productive tool for assisting the City with decisions. Some should serve continually while others may only be useful once the item has been dealt with. I believe the committee structure should, where possible, consist of one councillor, one staff member, and 4 volunteer citizens with expertise on the topic. The mandate of the committee would be to provide advice to the City on how to resolve, deal, or recommend outcomes on specific issues or items. The chair of the committee should be the Councillor and the minutes should be taken by the staff member. Governance must follow Roberts Rules. Selection of the volunteer citizens would come from community members that have applied for consideration. The term of the committee would be 2 years unless the mandate was a single shorter term item.
I describe the role of Council to be a community Leader to help guide and prosper our city’s needs being accountable for the City. However, not short of a team player who can work well with others towards a common goal. This is something my qualifications prepare me for, it is crucial in health care to not only be able to work well independently but amongst others taking compassion and empathy as an important tool to help understand and anticipate the needs of others in order to serve and care for them to the best of my ability. My role in the community as an off road advocate help me understand the importance of our actions and how they impact our community and the environment and how important that is to apply in our decision making about our City.
Approaching the table with a positive and open mind would be a start. Following through with the plans in place to help rectify the urgent situation our city is facing. Nurturing our City’s safety, environmental and housing concerns but still moving forward into an economically feasible plan towards the future, to help establish an inviting environment for everyone.
This is also something to approach with an open and positive mind, working together as a community and bringing together our City’s resources. This is where engaging in positive and constructive relationships with the various community organizations and entities at our disposal.
Working collectively is crucial to the success of our City.
These committees should be structured, mandated and governed on a case to case basis. To be directed by the needs of our city, in order to optimize the utilization of these committees. Providing oversight and ensuring the different committees act in an impartial and fair manner while keeping the city’s best interests in the forefront in the decision making process.
I see the role of Councillor as being one primarily focused on the following – through work that is done collectively as a council, and individually:
- Leading the direction of the City through strategic planning and contributing towards policy development focused on the needs of the city and community.
- Ensuring that the best interests of the city as a corporation and the community as constituents are well represented.
- Delivering responsible stewardship through solid due diligence towards effective decision making, assessing progress, ensuring responsible allocation of resources, and providing solid risk management.
- Providing quality leadership and representation which focuses on teamwork and leading by example, sets clear expectations and reasonable goals, empowers and advances relationships and initiatives which help the city, community, and economic conditions thrive.
My work and community contributions transfer well to this role. As a software developer specialized in medium to large enterprise, extensive research, understanding, and communication is required to ensure that requirements are met and challenges are well addressed; the decisions made directly influence the bottom line of businesses and their customers. My line of work demands solid decision making through careful examination and consideration of all possible outcomes and side effects; how decisions affect all parties involved.
I am a community volunteer and contribute towards various committees and initiatives, some of which I am the lead. This requires setting the tone through solid team work skills and collaborative decision making, and defining policy that empowers while also setting bounds and expectations.
Find out more about me and how I am prepared to take on this serious and complex role at https://www.peterurquhart.ca/about
There are a variety of approaches and actions that I believe would help significantly towards this:
- Establish an Economic Development Task Force involving various stakeholders to determine best ways on how Nanaimo can best deliver an economic development function in the form of a renewed Economic Development Corporation which envelops innovation that supports, connects, attracts investment, and accelerates small business. Help empower businesses to thrive here and generate economic prosperity for all of Nanaimo.
- Develop a Revitalized Spaces pilot project for facilitating change to our underutilized spaces. Utilize Diana Krall Plaza as the start from which to base the pilot planning upon. Prioritize community involvement and leveraging of expertise through design competitions and public engagements on potential space usage.
- Strengthen the local economic base through the development of initiatives that encourage “buy local” preferences which highlight local businesses and increase local manufacturing and production. Reducing reliance on external sources generates increased local economic activity, improves local stability and sustainability, and retains more wealth within the community.
- Further address sustainability by approaching affordability aspects through measures which focus on food security, active and alternate transportation, and housing affordability.
- Be willing and prepared to pilot new ideas, and remember that places become valuable and important when everyone has a say.
- Encourage the growth and support of diversity by placing focus on arts and culture focuses, and become an active partner towards assisting volunteer-based organizations with their activities of this nature.
Further actions are detailed within my full platform at https://www.peterurquhart.ca/platform/
I believe the overall approach requires a council that leads by example – that works as a team which values differences and leverages each others’ expertise, and develops a culture of collaboration, respect, and trust. Actively listening and engaging partners, stakeholders, and constituents in respectful, collaborative, meaningful ways assists greatly towards rebuilding relationships, trust, and accelerating forward progress that benefits everyone. I am very much committed to this vision and is how I lead. I have detailed further on this within my platform at https://www.peterurquhart.ca/platform/
Specific ways to make progress on this measure include the following:
- Assist, encourage, grow, and participate in meaningful productive relationships between partners, stakeholders and the community on subjects with connected interests.
- Proactively inform and collaborate with partners, stakeholders, and constituents on processes, expectations and opportunities.
- Define policy for meaningful public input opportunities and integrate into all projects which have impact on partners, stakeholders, and constituents.
- Change the engagement landscape from one where, generally, partners, stakeholders, and constituents have little say towards how things are being done, to one where input is integrated into meaningful processes and plans.
- Support continuation of the Public Engagement Pilot Program being undertaken by the CETF (Community Engagement Task Force) until such time that its mandate is complete. Transition the CETF into the establishment of a Community Engagement Committee with a mandate focused towards continued enhancement and development of public engagement methods and implementations, and on subject specific engagements as requested by the city.
The way that committees are currently structured, mandated, and governed can be improved in ways that would help refine focuses and productivity, increase the level of participation, efficiency, and effectiveness, and assist towards the valuable contributions they make. I believe the following measures would assist towards this:
- Enhance the organizational structure: Reestablish the Grants Advisory Committee, undo the 2016 broad “Culture, Heritage, and Social Planning Committee” amalgamation to re-form two focused committees – a Social Planning Advisory Committee, and an Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee. As well, establish three new focused committees – an Economic Development Task Force, an Affordable Housing Strategy Task Force, and a Community Engagement Committee.
- Enhance the functional structure: Committee mandates should be expanded through policy development which further encourages committees to lead initiatives on subjects within their mandate, empowers Committee members to participate in more active roles through collaboration and combined leveraging of individual skills and expertise.
- Enhance governing aspects: Develop policy which works towards reducing and standardizing the span of time it takes for official meeting minutes to reach the Council table. Make draft minutes publicly available as soon as possible so that all interested parties can become more aware, stay informed and be involved. Notify relevant committees of other specific committee’s minutes when focus has been placed on shared subjects.
- Conduct a committee focused consultation which involves members of all committees and the public to discuss potential measures which could further assist the committees in their work.
I am seeking a seat on city council and therefore also the RDN board. Both of these are governance bodies which oversee both the administration and strategic direction of the city and district.
Working in IT for a diverse array of companies, each with their own distinct systems and processes has required me to read and understand the implications and correlations to other situations in dense jargon filled manuals and guides. I have served customers with a wide variety of backgrounds from retail to engineering, often when they are frustrated – and kept them on the task of solving their problem. Each new customer I meet I must work with as they are and not assume knowledge outside their field but presume competence and the ability to learn, then help them understand the process to achieve their desired results. I also commit to getting the job done, even when others do not.
Prior to working in IT I studied computer science and mathematics but included electives in Geographic Information Systems, Accounting, and other sciences – not enough to be a planner or accountant, but enough to understand their concepts and ask intelligent questions. While studying database systems I collaborated on projects analyzing data from the Pacific Salmon Commission which introduced me to key players and concepts in river and ocean conservation, and the role that complete data plays in these efforts. I have done self-directed studies in a variety of fields that impact public policy at the civic and regional level, including public health, urban design trends, water conservation, smallholder and conservation agriculture, etc – again, not enough to work in those fields, but enough to understand core concepts and ask intelligent questions of the experts.
First, council should request staff to transfer one or two existing employees to a project management role and implement an open source project management and ticket tracking system (using existing resources) to guide city, nonprofit, and third party projects more quickly through the different departments of city bureaucracy. Projects should not be impeded by disorganization once approved by due process.
We also need to address understaffing and balkanization in city departments, and the resultant over-reliance on outside consultants. If we give the existing staff the freedom and manpower to get the job done, and support to certify on-the-job education we can rely less on expensive outside consultants and contractors. This may require some adjustment in the next negotiation cycle with the city’s various unions but is likely to be found favourable.
Second, the city and region should address the two major affordability issues of our region – car dependence and housing affordability. Less money spent on automobiles and mortgages is more spent in local businesses
We have solutions already in the Official Community Plan and Transportation Master Plan to car dependence – Dense walkable, bikeable, transit-served, multi-use neighbourhoods in core and corridor zones. Unfortunately we have not been following these plans. We must. Walkability in existing neighbourhoods can be addressed with tactical urbanism techniques for traffic calming and pedestrian safety, encouraging at least more students to walk to school, reducing time pressure for residents and traffic and road wear for the city.
Housing affordability improvements can be addressed by co-operating with the co-operative housing federation of BC, Pacifica Housing, Nanaimo Aboriginal Centre, and other non-profits and offering development and planning assistance and long term leases of city land (sections of 1 Port Drive, 1425 Cranberry Ave, etc) for the development of below-market housing.
I have addressed relations with staff above, but also as I have mentioned in my candidacy announcement the city should work with the district, UBCM, and province to implement a civic ombudsperson (probably at the regional district level) to correct systemic issues created by the single reporting employee governance model and bureaucracy inherent in any government.
Addressing understaffing, balkanization, and lack of project management in city departments can resolve a lot of concerns from both developers and civil society groups who have issues with long delays on projects.
Staff and council should strive to communicate more clearly with constituents to prevent misunderstandings leading to strife. A recent example of where this is failed is with the Lake Road closure. Had the bylaw been titled “to correct a historical surveying error” or had a preamble or discussion mentioning that the property being exchanged was under existing houses and yards and never part of any park, much public outcry could have been avoided.
The recent Transmountain decision has given us good guidelines for consultations not just with first nations but also neighbourhood groups – we must consult openly, in good faith, and address the concerns raised, but not give an automatic veto (but if concerns are unmitigable, founded, and significant, cancellation or alteration may be in order).
I foresee no major changes to nanaimo’s committees other than the PRC and Safety committees working together to improve public education on First Aid, Household and Interface fire prevention and mitigation, crime prevention, and Wilderness safety. PRC committee should also reach out to community groups in the various cultural minorities throughout the city – but especially indigenous peoples – to develop more culturally diverse programming.