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Getting ready for Election 2018

Welcome to OurNanaimo.

25 Councillor Candidates Invited to Debate

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

OurNanaimo is partnering with the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce to present Candidate Forums in advance of the October 20 Nanaimo municipal elections, to provide the community with several robust opportunities to meet and question candidates for mayor and council.

A minimum score of 30/40 or 75% on a series of 4 questions was initially required to participate in the debates. However, due to the low number of councillor candidates who reached that threshold, it was decided that councillor candidates whose responses were in the top 25 would be invited to participate in the debates.

Of the 40 councillor candidates, 32 councillor candidates applied. The following 25 candidates are invited to attend the councillor debate:

S. Armstrong

G. Beaulieu

D. Bonner

T. Brown

B. Geselbracht

P. Gouda

E. Hemmens

P. Kent

R. Kornberger

G. Korpan

B. Loos

Z. Maartman

L. MacIlquham

B. Manners

J. Manhas

D. Olsen

A. Petersen

W. Pratt

M. Ribicic

N. Routley

K. Storrie

I. Thorpe

J. Turley

P. Urquhart

T. Whaley

The Councillor Candidate Debates will take place on Monday, October 15, from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre, 101 Gordon Street.

All councillor candidate responses to the application questions are now posted to the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and OurNanaimo websites, and we encourage all voters to review these responses as another valuable assessment tool.

For further details on the debate process, and more information on these candidate forums, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions.



For more information, please contact:


Kim Smythe, Chamber of Commerce, 250-756-1191


Website: ournanaimo.com

Facebook: @OurNanaimo

Twitter: @OurNanaimo

Instagram: @ournanaimo





  1. I am a Candidate. How do I apply to participate in the debates?

Application questions were released to candidates on September 14, via news release and postings on OurNanaimo and Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce websites and social media platforms. Applications closed on September 24.

Application Instructions

Candidates were required to submit their application responses as follows:

  • Send an electronic copy of your responses to the following email address: info@nanaimochamber.bc.ca.
  • The application deadline was noon, September 24 for candidates to submit responses. There were no exceptions made for late responses.
  • Candidates were responsible for saving and backing up their responses – technical issues are the responsibility of each candidate.
  • Important: Each response must include the candidate’s name, the position they are seeking, a contact phone number, and an attestation as follows:

These responses are written by me, [your name] and are entirely my own ideas, and I have not plagiarized or copied any sources without appropriate citation.

  • Any candidate with special needs was required to contact us immediately.

Application Questions

In 250 words or less, respond to the following 4 questions.

  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?
  2. Outline the approaches and actions you think council should take to help foster a prosperous, vibrant, sustainable and diverse Nanaimo economy and community.
  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.
  4. Nanaimo Council is served and supported by a series of committees. How should these committees be structured, mandated and governed?


Application Evaluation

Each response was evaluated by members of the two sponsoring organizations (OurNanaimo and the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce). The following criteria were used to assess responses:

  1. content/knowledge;
  2. understanding of local issues, context and partners;
  3. knowledge and application of local governance laws and policy; and
  4. overall quality, relevance, applicability and logic of responses.

Responses were scored out of a total of 40 points (10 per question) using a blind assessment process. Scores from the two sponsoring organizations will be averaged for a final score. A minimum score of 30/40 or 75% was initially set as a requirement to participate in the debates.

All responses will be posted to the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and OurNanaimo websites.

  1. How do I register for the All Candidate Fair on October 9?

Candidates who wish to participate in the October 9 All Candidate Fair were required to register in advance with the Chamber of Commerce to secure a table with a commitment fee of $25, no later than September 24. The Fair is open to mayoral, councillor and school trustee candidates.

  1. When and where are the candidate forums being held?

Two separate events offer several opportunities for candidates and voters to engage, share information and support smart voting choices at the polls.

  • Tuesday, October 9:
    • All Candidate Fair (6-7:45 PM) – All candidates (mayoral, councillor and school trustee) had the opportunity to individually engage with voters;
    • One-hour moderated leadership debate with mayoral candidates (8-9 PM).
  • Monday, October 15:
    • Select Candidates Debate: “Fishbowl Forum” (6-9 PM). Five questions, addressing key local themes will be put to small groups of candidates. Each group will debate one topic live in a council-simulated format. The final number of debaters will be determined by the number who meet or exceed qualifying criteria.

Both events will be held at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre (VICC), 101 Gordon Street, Nanaimo.

  1. Why are OurNanaimo and the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce inviting only select council candidates to this sponsored event?

Nanaimo is facing a crucial and pivotal municipal election. Past all-candidates debates followed standard formats but were largely seen as ineffective for both candidates and voters, both because of the sheer number of candidates and because of the superficial level of discourse.

These debates are an opportunity to provide both voters and candidates with a robust and meaningful forum on the issues facing the community; to provide voters with a select opportunity to better assess candidates’ platforms, views and effectiveness; to provide candidates with a quality opportunity to demonstrate their views and competencies to voters; and to support and enable an effective, competent, high-performing council to be elected in Nanaimo on October 20, 2018.

  1. Why does OurNanaimo and the Nanaimo Chamber think this format will work better than those of previous municipal elections?

This combination of formats (an All Candidate Fair, Mayoral Leadership Debate and selected Candidate Debates) provides all candidates with an opportunity to engage with voters:

  • the All Candidate Fair* format allows voters and candidates to engage one-on-one;
  • a focused mayoral debate allows for more voter scrutiny of this leadership position;
  • the councillor candidate debate format supports a deeper, targeted and hopefully more robust debate.

Together, these three events provide voters and candidates with robust and quality opportunities to engage, share information and seek to support smarter voting choices at the polls.

*UPDATE: School Trustee Candidates were invited to register to participate in the All Candidate Fair, along with mayoral and councillor candidates.

  1. Why should Candidates have to apply for these debates?

Candidates are applying for very important jobs, as Board members for a corporation with a $200M annual operating budget, almost 700 employees, capital assets worth over $1B, and over 90,000 shareholders – the residents, citizens and taxpayers of the City of Nanaimo. These are not entry-level positions.

Candidates who wished to participate in these sponsored debates were required by OurNanaimo and the Nanaimo Chamber to apply, but candidates were under no obligation to participate.

These debates are only one of the many ways that candidates can communicate their views and platforms, and they are free to attend any debate they choose.

With Nanaimo’s at-large system and dozens of candidates vying for airtime and attention, this is the innovative thinking that will lead to better governance for Nanaimo.

  1. Is this the first time this format has ever been tried in Canada?


As far as we can determine, this multi-pronged approach may be a first in municipal politics in Canada. However, invitation-only candidate debates have long been common at both the provincial and federal levels.


  1. Is this selective process undemocratic?


No. Canada’s democratic process allows almost anyone to run for public office; it in no way requires groups such as ours to give every candidate an equal voice, and it does not force voters to give every candidate equal consideration. Democracy is strengthened by a competitive and selective process.


  1. Who is the Nanaimo Chamber?


The Chamber of Commerce is a non-partisan and neutral party in all elections. Our goals are to increase participation in the democratic and electoral process in order to promote good governance. We seek to educate voters, promote participation in public service, and engage with community leaders from all political stripes so we can advocate successfully for our community. Our message this election is VOTE SMART.


  1. Who is OurNanaimo?


OurNanaimo is an all-volunteer, donation-funded group whose stated goals are better governance, better city planning, and a better council in 2018. We are committed to advancing approaches and activities that will support the election of an effective, competent, skilled council that will consider the best interests of our community.


OurNanaimo and the Nanaimo Chamber collaborated to deliver the Civic Leadership Speakers Series in Spring 2018.


  1. How many candidates registered or applied for these events?

All three mayoral candidates applied for the mayoral debate. 32 of 40 councillor candidates applied for the councillor debate. A total of 54 candidates (3 mayoral, 35 councillor and 16 school board trustee) registered for the All Candidates Fair.

  1. Did all three mayoral candidates meet the qualifying criteria?


No, based on the assessment process conducted by the Chamber and OurNanaimo, two of the three candidates’ responses did not meet the qualifying criteria of 30/40 or 75%. However, a debate is not possible with only one candidate, so to provide voters with an opportunity to hear mayoral candidates, it was agreed that all three be invited to participate.


  1. * NEW * Did all 32 applying councillor candidates meet the qualifying criteria?


No. Based on the assessment process conducted by the Chamber and OurNanaimo, of the 32 councillor candidates who applied:

  • 10 candidates met or exceeded the qualifying criteria of 30/40 or 75%;
  • 11 candidates achieved a score of over 50%; and
  • 11 candidates did not meet a threshold of 50%.

However, in order to provide attendees with a reasonable number of debaters, the highest scoring 25 candidates were invited to attend.


  1. Which members of OurNanaimo and the Chamber assessed candidates?


Names of the panel members will not be released, as there have been cases of on-line harassment in the past.


  1. Will you be releasing the assessment scores from the panels?


No. Scoring was part of our internal assessment process, and details of this process have been made public. We encourage all voters to read candidate responses and use this as another valuable assessment tool.


  1. Have the candidate responses been altered or edited in any way prior to posting?

Other than standardizing font type, colour and size, all candidate responses have been posted exactly as submitted by candidates.



OurNanaimo is a grassroots, non-partisan group of citizens with members from a cross-section of Nanaimo, including working families, students, business owners, young professionals and retirees. OurNanaimo is focused on effecting positive change at the municipal level and committed to building a vibrant, strong and healthy city.
OurNanaimo believes that our city deserves not just better, but the very best governance. The job of a city councillor is challenging and requires a high degree of skill, knowledge and competencies, in addition to being committed to building a better city and serving the public interest.  Councillors have the potential to impact both individual citizens and the reputation and success of our city as a whole.  To support the objective of better governance, OurNanaimo is focusing on approaches that contribute to a positive outcome in the October 20, 2018 local general election. This includes increasing voter engagement, creating tools for voters, promoting the attributes of an effective councillor, and getting out the vote.
Learn more

Spring 2018 Civic Leadership Series

OurNanaimo, the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Vancouver Island collaborated on a series of learning sessions for potential municipal candidates to help them understand the complexity of the role of the local elected official.

Learn more


Finally, a group of community members who want accountability (what a novel thought) from our elected officials. How do I get involved...do you have a regular meeting that I could attend? My wife and I moved here in 2004 and have watched this beautiful little community blossom into a vibrant small city. Unfortunately, the strategic planning and accountability of our city, regional district (including Port Authority) leave much to the imagination.


I just wanted to extend my congratulations on forming the Our Nanaimo group. What I was most impressed by is the thoughtful questions you are putting forth to the by-election candidates. If they do nothing else, it is my hope that each candidate takes the time to think these questions through and at least be clear with themselves as to why they wish to be elected. Although sorely needed, I am sadden though that a group of Nanaimoites have felt compelled to create this group. But am thankful that we live in a society that embraces the right to do so. Thank you, I look forward to the candidates responses.


You've got my interest. Keep me informed!

Community Member

Thank you Kathryn for your candidates assessments & to all who are involved here, helping our democracy. With Regards.

Thank you

Just wanted to say that as a former Nanaimoite and someone who's following the by-election, I found your list of questions very engaging, meaningful and probing. Well done.