- THEME: Current Issue – Crisis management, strategic thinking
The City of Nanaimo, like many other cities across BC and the globe, is facing a homelessness crisis. The homeless crisis, especially Discontent City, has divided our community, where we have witnessed violence and vigilantism, court decisions, and tragically, deaths. The provincial government recently announced measures to address this crisis.
As a councillor, how do you propose to deal with this ongoing crisis, and what is your medium and long term strategy?
I propose to deal with homelessness by getting advice from professionals in the field. Which has already been done. There are two new documents, one has been produced by staff in consultation with the public and another produced by the Nanaimo Homelessness Coalition who are actively working with the homeless. The Nanaimo Affordable Housing Strategy and the Nanaimo Community Plan to End Homelessness. Both of these plans include medium and long term strategies. These two plans address a wide range of housing issues in our community. We need to take those strategies and make them operational.
They include outreach with the homeless. Creation of a drop in centre. Social integration, income stability. Dry social housing strategically dispersed in our city. Recruiting more retail housing for the Housing First Strategy.
Redistribution of resources to manage addictions and mental health Issues. Integration of an “indigenous lens” into the services provided and annual coordination of homeless services providers with prevention and support agencies.
The work has already started. We need to make it successful.
- THEME: Fiscal resource management – Taxes, budgets, asset management
Municipal governments have limited sources of revenue, and increasing pressures to deliver services, maintain aging and ever expanding infrastructure, and to support a community’s development and vitality.
As a council member, how will you approach the key task of managing city resources?
Asset management is key to a successful city and a great strategy for responsible taxation. City staff is already doing great work on the some of the built environment. What asset management does is show us what we have, the life span and the cost to repair and replace it. I would like to see the asset management expanded to our buildings and natural infrastructure. Any project that the city takes on comes with it a liability, in the cost to maintain and replace it. Council should be seeing staff reports that show the project cost and the cost to replace. This should be for all our assets built, digital and natural. Only then can we have a clear picture of our budgets and money required for reserves.
The BC Auditor General states “It is important to engage and educate members of the community on what asset management involves, why it is important and the implications if your local government fails to proactively manage publicly-owned assets.”
We as council have a duty to manage the assets of the city for generations to come.
5 THEME: Regional District of Nanaimo – Dual governance role, regional development
Of the 9 council members elected to govern the City of Nanaimo on October 20, 8 will become members of the RDN Board of directors (+ 1 alternate) for a total 19 members representing a region that spans from Mt. Arrowsmith, to Qualicum Beach, to Cedar. This is a complex and demanding responsibility.
What do you see as the key issues and priorities for the City as part of the RDN? What do you see as the key priorities overall for the region?
The RDN provides the following services to Nanaimo.
Drinking Water and Watershed Protection, Bus Transit, Regional Parks, Solid & Liquid Waste Management.
We need to have full representation at all meetings. We have 8 reps on the RDN board who have a weighted vote on financial matters that effect Nanaimo. That only leaves 1 alternate and if two members are not able to make the meeting we are under represented on the board. I think we should work with the province to get that number back to 7. These services provided are extremely important we need to be fully represented at each meeting.
Transit is managed by the RDN so changes will be made at that level. I would like to see us look at a ridership model instead of a coverage model as we are presently using.
Economic development is a regional issue. We had a partnership with many of the outlying electoral areas to cooperate on regional economic development and they were financially contributing to that work. Now all that is gone. Any new Ec-Dev entity needs to be regional in focus.