Nanaimoites recently learned that the City’s Chief Financial Officer, Victor Mema was suspended with pay, pending an investigation (into what, we do not know). This followed the February appointment of a special prosecutor and an internal investigation into events connected to the City’s Chief Administrative Officer, Tracy Samra who is still on unspecified leave with pay, and January’s firing of the City’s Chief Operations Officer, Brad McRae.
With remaining managers and employees struggling in the chaos of City Hall, it means our municipal administration has almost no senior managers left to ensure the effective operations of a city of over 90,000 residents, with an annual budget of about $200 million and almost 1,000 employees. Combine this with a Council that is largely unfit for office, and Nanaimo’s ship of state is not just rudderless, it is floundering on the rocks.
February saw Council fumble key municipal issues including the future of the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange, the public engagement task force, and a multi-unit supportive housing project. We also discovered that the 2017 Hometown Hockey weekend did not cost $320,000 – 23 times the national average – but rather cost $470,000 – 36 times the national average. These are a few examples of the city’s lack of effective leadership which have serious and lasting impacts on Nanaimoites’ lives and pocketbooks.
Whether you think supportive housing in Chase River was a good idea or not, the process was fatally flawed. The end result may be that Nanaimo taxpayers lose out on $7 million in provincial funding, and a project that could have addressed some of this city’s social problems. Among municipalities in BC, it seems only Nanaimo Council is too dysfunctional to receive it.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. As we get closer to Election Day, the Province of BC released a series of videos that will help both candidates and voters. Watch these videos and share them with your friends, neighbours, and family. If you know anyone thinking of running for Council, encourage them to consult this site, and honestly assess whether they meet the criteria and demands of public office as detailed. If not, it is crucial they not enter the race, but rather consider how they can support only our best and brightest to run. All the videos can be found at: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/local-governments/governance-powers/general-local-elections/thinking-of-running-for-local-office
A key goal for OurNanaimo is to build voter engagement and awareness, and to encourage a higher calibre of candidate. We will be continually updating our website at OurNanaimo.com, with links such as the one above, as well as other resources for voters and candidates including this list of reference materials: https://www.ournanaimo.com/index.php/elector-assessment-tool/essential-reference-material-for-candidates/
2018 is the year we can all turn this ship away from the rocks. Better informed voters and higher quality candidates will help us to achieve a better outcome on October 20th. We have just seven months left to ensure that Nanaimo voters go into the voting booth armed with the knowledge, the wisdom, and the critical thinking to choose the best Council this city has ever seen, and get the governance this City deserves.