July 2018

The Dog Days of Nanaimo Politics

Nanaimo is now in the dog days of summer, and there’s a good chance you are reading this from your deck, cabin or sailboat. Enjoy it while you can; soon enough we’ll all be back in the trenches, fighting for a better city and better governance. And while Nanaimo politics has largely entered the summer doldrums, there are still some big issues to report.

Five months after Chief Administrative Officer Tracy Samra was arrested – never to return to City Hall – Council has finally hired an Interim CAO. Unlike the previous office holder, Jake Rudolph went through a systematic hiring process including reference checks, and has both relevant experience and qualifications for the position.

Mr. Rudolph faces considerable challenges as he takes on his job in mid-July. One of the deepest holes is staff vacancies, both managers and frontline City staff. Shortages of Bylaw, Planning, and Building Inspections staff are dire, and in many cases the latter two are causing significant delays in approval times for building projects. This has real effects on the local economy, and on our community as a whole. We wish Mr. Rudolph success in his new role as he begins the process of building relationships, bringing stability to City Hall, and leading this council and the next through the election and transition period.

We have had a few more candidates declare in the last few weeks. We hope – before formally submitting their nomination papers with the City – all candidates will engage in serious self-reflection on whether they truly have the skill sets necessary to manage a $200M annual operating budget and almost 1,000 employees. This job calls for the best and the brightest leaders in our community. It takes a mix of knowledge, skills, experience and principles. Not everyone is cut out for this serious and stressful position. We encourage you to plug all candidates into our Candidate Assessment Tool and see who you think makes the grade.

We have been critical of Nanaimo News Bulletin’s coverage of City politics on occasion, but to their credit, they are trying to profile every candidate as they declare. The latest is incumbent Councillor Sheryl Armstrong. To help voters make informed voting choices on October 12, OurNanaimo is planning to share information on all declared candidates in September, once nominations close.

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.

Better city planning helps to ensure that our community develops in a responsible and sustainable way, creating a liveable and prosperous city, and is a key priority for OurNanaimo. On July 12, the Planning Design Development Nanaimo in partnership with the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada will be unveiling the architects’ design charettes for downtown Nanaimo. These designs offer creative ideas to help solve many of our connectivity challenges in Nanaimo’s downtown. This will be during one of downtown’s very successful Thursday Commercial Street Night Markets, so come on down and enjoy both.

See you there!