The Chamber of Commerce Position on the City’s Core Service Review
September 13, 2016
On September 12, Nanaimo City Council held an e-Town Hall with residents on the subject of the Core Service Review conducted over a six month period earlier this year. This community consultation was complemented by meetings with community stakeholders to provide their input to Council the next day in the Board Room of the SARC Building. Following is the Chamber’s presentation to Mayor, Council and senior staff.
First off, the Chamber has pointed out to Council that we feel that the conduct of this Review comes at a very good time in Nanaimo’s growth and development. Some people say that timing is everything and this is very much the case with the Review. You now have a clear window for implementation with enough of a Council term left to make an impact without the Review becoming a political hot potato.
I thought the point was very well made last night that Council members and staff are not taking a ‘slash & burn’ approach, but that they are examining priorities, seeking efficiencies and becoming better at exercising their fiscal and fiduciary duties. This, in turn, delivers greater value for the taxpayer’s dollar through the enhanced service of Council members, through improved services in some areas and more efficient services in others. I believe this came across very well during the e-town hall. And I also believe it appeals to the existing business community while adding to the list of reasons why businesses would be attracted to locate in Nanaimo, when we are seen as having a fair and well-managed tax regime. One more arrow in each of the quivers of the Chamber of Commerce for business retention and expansion and the NEDC for business attraction and growth.
The conversation touched on the topic of wages and I think one Councillor made a very good point that the Core Review wasn’t conducted to remove people from their jobs, nor to cut the earning capacity of its work force; but to make sure the work force was focused on the right things in the right order to give us the most bang for our buck.
The Chamber urges the continued expeditious strategic implementation of recommendations. I would like to now speak to a few of the highlights briefly.
Strategic Plan (1.c.1 – strategic direction Council actions) – already implemented and we have spoken in strong support of your work on this and the list of strategic priorities during a Council meeting (last e-town hall) and in discussions with individual councillors.
Strategic Plan (1.a.1-5 – the city’s strategic priorities and staff actions) – Agree that these initiatives are well prioritized.
Community Partnerships (9.C.1 – concerning NEDC’s direction) – We stand ready to work with the NEDC to help them optimize their positive impact on our economy by bolstering a healthy business climate and having effective action plans to meet our community’s goals.
Community Partnerships (9.C.2 – regarding the fate of matching funding for the DNBIA) – A sensible approach that I think can be managed by this organization and I would hope that ‘project funding’ wouldn’t be limited to the amount of funds available currently as the ‘matching grant’. I am always mindful of the rationale for forming this organization described in the Downtown Plan of 2008 which identified a set of needs required to redevelop the city centre in the most efficient way possible and it was determined that the ‘bureaucracy’ was not going to fit that criteria. The DNBIA is able to bring the right combination of expertise and volunteer energy to the table to have done a very commendable job since its inception.
Community Partnerships (9.C.3 – regarding future plans for the VICC) – The Chamber is a strong supporter of the VICC, especially so when it is effective in attracting meetings and conferences away from other communities, while providing a unique venue for community events that won’t fit elsewhere. We are happy to collaborate and enjoy a very positive and effective working relationship with management there. There are events that we do which are simply too large and demanding on a venue to do anywhere else. Very simply, that business would not be done in our community were it not for that facility. By my read of the Core Review and the further report on VICC, the City appears committed over the long term while leaving room for improvement and further support. Kudos to you for following through on this.
All in all, the Core Service Review gives direction and leadership to Council and Staff to help in decision-making to operate this City in a fashion similar to the way members of our business community run their businesses – as tightly, as productively, and as efficiently as possible so that, at the end of the day, we can say we all did our best and can now say “job well done”.
CONTACT: Kim Smythe – 250-756-1191