August 2018

So Many Candidates

July saw yet another expensive legal manoeuvre by this Council. Their injunction against “Discontent City” awaits a verdict (as of this writing) by Honourable Justice Ronald Skolrood, but it seems His Honour was not impressed by the City’s lawyer’s argument that the homeless can move back into our tinder-dry City parks – a legal argument put forward on the first day of an extreme fire ban.

I think most of us would agree that “Discontent City” has been a failure (but remember, Council invited them to 1 Port Drive back in May). Forty-five months into this administration, with no concrete action by this Council on housing affordability, homelessness, or the opioid crisis (or much else), a homeless camp in the middle of downtown should not come as a surprise.

And while lawyers serve a very important function in society, they are not a substitute for good public policy, something that has still not dawned on our elected representatives less than three months before the end of their terms. This is another valuable (but expensive) lesson for our next council: don’t ignore an issue for years, then be surprised when it slaps you in the face.

But, there is hope on the horizon. The flood gates have opened on candidates for Council, and many of them are intelligent, experienced, and thoughtful. The hard part will be determining which among them are the best nine.

Of course, recent weeks have also seen some less qualified candidates declare. Considering some of our incumbents, that is no surprise. But OurNanaimo wants only the best and the brightest for this city. Our city deserves, in fact needs competent, effective elected officials. Some claim this is elitist, and they are right. This is not an entry-level job or a role to be taken lightly. The last four years have demonstrated in spades that giving angry, unqualified people with little relevant experience and questionable intent the keys to City Hall is a recipe for disaster.

The time to start evaluating candidates is now. Visit Nanaimonet.com for information on declared candidates for councillor, mayor, and school board trustee. Thanks to Merv Unger for this useful public service. Many candidates also have dedicated websites and social media presences, which you can find by searching their names. OurNanaimo will be providing more information on candidates once the formal nomination period closes on September 14.

On that note, OurNanaimo continues to consider approaches for candidate debates, to be held in early October. We may work in collaboration with other groups, and many details are still to be ironed out. A candidate debate is your opportunity as voters to assess candidates’ ideas, competencies, and knowledge, and whether they would make an effective elected official and serve our City with integrity.

A key consideration will be structuring a debate forum that provides useful information to voters: one that allows candidates to get their ideas across in a meaningful way and that gives voters a valuable opportunity to assess candidates. Dozens of voices, all trying to be heard within a couple hours on multiple topics, has proven to be ineffective for both voters and candidates. We will be looking for innovative and bold approaches to ensure voters can properly assess our best and brightest. More details to follow as we work them out.

OurNanaimo continues to compile a list of volunteers for the election period in September and October. Let us know if you’re interested in helping out. And of course, we’ve still got buttons! You can order them here and here.

And the Thursday night Commercial Street Night Market continues to be a roaring success. We have never seen Diana Krall Plaza so alive.

See you there!