Menu

2018 Council

Vote Bill Manners

header photo

CAMPAIGN BLOG

Tourism and Downtown Revitalization

Nanaimo is not a tourist destination.  Nanaimo is a city that tourists speed through on the way to their destinations.  Tourists get off the ferry and go to Cathedral Grove, or Milner Gardens, or Rathtrevor Park, or Tigh-Na-Mara, or Tofino. As a councillor, I would like to grab some of those tourist dollars for Nanaimo before they leave the city. So we need to create spaces in downtown Nanaimo that will make tourists slow down, stop, look, and buy.

1 Port Drive1 Port Drive

Some current designs I’ve seen want to put condos on that space as well as a Granville Island style market. I vote NO on condos, YES on the market. This is the last prime piece of downtown waterfront land, and I want to keep it a vibrant place for everyone to enjoy. Putting condos on the property would have a dampening effect on human activity like it has around the Beacon, or Pacifica. Have you noticed how quiet everyone goes in those areas when you walk along the waterfront? And the tall buildings entirely block out the sunlight from the late afternoon on.

No, 1 Port Drive should be buzzing with the energy of human activity. It should be a thriving marketplace full of local artists and craftspeople showing off their talents to the cruise ship passengers who stop by. It should be a place where people can experience the local cuisine, the bounty of our local farmers, and our local culture. It should pay homage to the history of that location while looking towards Nanaimo’s future.

It shouldn’t be another concrete jungle, though. It will need green space around it, planters and gardens and trees. It should look beautiful. It should be a place where people want to stay and enjoy that amazing waterfront setting.

 

 

Waterfront Pioneer PlazaDiana Krall Plaza and Waterfront Pioneer Plaza

Speaking of concrete jungles, we need to do something about these two dismal urban wastelands in the heart of our downtown.

Diana Krall Plaza works on the Commercial St. side of things. It’s more people-friendly with planters, trees, and seating around the planters. But as you get further in, it turns into a lonely urban canyon. The only use it seems to get is as a toilet for the seagulls.

We need to turn it into a people place. Perhaps more planters or a sculpture walk featuring work by local artists. Someone had the clever idea last summer of hosting a board game night down there. With moveable seating and tables, we could set up conversation areas outside the library. Maybe allow some food carts, so that people who work or shop downtown can enjoy their lunch there. Making it a more people friendly place will make it a less scary place to walk through.

Waterfront Pioneer Plaza is another forlorn urban wasteland, with broken benches and overgrown shrubbery that blocks the view of the waterfront. Occasionally it comes to life in the summer time with a once-per-week farmer’s market that lasts for a few hours. But for the most part, it’s another scary, lonely place to have to walk through to get to the waterfront.

It needs much more activity going on there. Perhaps a moveable stage for children’s dance recitals, or local theatre groups putting on some sort of Shakespeare on the Waterfront on summer evenings. Again, moveable tables and chairs with food carts or trucks nearby would make it a more attractive place to gather in the daytime.

These are just a few ideas to get the ball rolling on community engagement about these spaces. These spaces belong to the residents of Nanaimo and everyone should have an opportunity to get a say in how to improve them. I am willing to listen to ideas from the community about these sites and what they can be used for. I know there are amazing ideas out there that could make these spaces vibrant. City Council just needs to hear them. Making these spaces more people-friendly will help with downtown revitalization. More importantly, it will encourage tourists to explore our downtown, discover our local merchants and put their tourist dollars into our hands instead of blowing through Nanaimo on their way to somewhere else.

Accessibility in Nanaimo

Disability is something that can happen to any of us at any time.

When I was in my teens, I was employed in an extremely loud work environment without being given hearing protection. As a result, I lost much of my hearing and have had to rely on hearing aids for most of my adult life.

Most people don’t notice my hearing aids and often don’t even realize I have a hearing disability. I’m very good at reading lips, and can usually piece together words and meanings I can’t hear from the context of the conversation.

But I sometimes have difficulty with communication. Sometimes I pronounce words wrong because I have never heard them pronounced clearly. At home, I rely on louder volume and closed captioning on TV. And for many years, I didn’t attend city council meetings because it was easier to hear everything at home on my computer with headphones on.

Around 1990, I got together with Michael Bortolotto, Carl Ashley, Mary Jo Arnold, Anne Scott, Pat Leahy, and others to create the Nanaimo and Region Independent Living Resource Centre (which later became the Nanaimo Disability Resource Centre).  Our goal was to advocate and provide resources for people with all types of disabilities.  Following that, I became the publisher and editor of the “Better Life” newspaper. It was a monthly paper which provided news and information for persons with disabilities and seniors living north of the Malahat.

We live in a world where ability is often taken for granted, and disability is not planned for. Design must be inclusive; otherwise, it inflicts vulnerability on the people who are excluded by that design. As a councillor, I want to make sure the Nanaimo residents with disabilities are included more by design as we move forward and are not made to feel excluded or vulnerable by the lack of amenities.

From my own personal experience, I know that closed-captioning, interpretive sign language, etc. are needed by the deaf and hard-of-hearing community for them to be able to participate in municipal politics and get vital information in case of emergencies. I know there are many other aspects of accessibility whether it be visual, mobility, or cognitive where the City of Nanaimo needs to improve its performance. I would like the opportunity to work towards the goal of making sure that everyone is included as we move forward.  Vote Bill Manners for council on October 20, 2018, if you agree.

Nanaimo and the Tech Sector

Hey, did you see the story on CHEK?  The one about Victoria's expanding tech sector?  Greater Victoria's growing tech sector has economic impact of over $5 billion, study says.  Great story!  Way to go Victoria!

But did you ask yourself, 'Why couldn't that be Nanaimo?'

It could be.  But there's a problem.  I'll let a friend of mine explain it to you:

“A few years ago I was the GM of a high tech company located in Sidney BC and commuting every couple of days from Nanaimo.

The company was growing and was also being courted by government agencies in New York State, Tennessee and Colorado offering things free rent, relocation expenses, reduced taxes, employee hiring assistance and various other incentives.

As the GM and the face of the business, and frankly the guy that ran the whole show, I did not want to go to the states, but preferred to relocate the business to Nanaimo. I showed the ownership and Board of Directors (BoD) the Nanaimo Economic Development web site and got the OK to investigate relocation possibilities and any incentives that Nanaimo might offer.

I made contact with Nanaimo Ec Dev Corp and asked if they could help me impress the ownership and BoD as this could bring several well paid ($60K - $70K) jobs and more in the future. After being kept waiting a couple of weeks and having to bug the Ec Dev office I finally received only a copy of the first two of pages cut and pasted from the web site. Not one new piece of information and no incentives. (my italics) In fact the business owners were so unhappy with the poor effort they canned my plans immediately. The company has remained in Sidney but has expanded to several other locations.”

How does that make you feel?  A little angry at the lack of initiative shown by the Nanaimo Economic Development Office?  A little disappointed that we missed out on those jobs?

Me too.  It also makes me concerned for the future of Nanaimo.  We cannot be the city of malls, the shopping Mecca of Vancouver Island anymore.  Those jobs are on the verge of disappearing.  Cashiers are being replaced by automated checkouts.  Stock clerks are being replaced by robots with AI.  And knowledgeable sales associates are being replaced by online customer reviews.

Our existing workforce is being replaced by tech.  But the jobs creating that tech are in Victoria.

Nanaimo needs people on city council who are willing to go after those tech jobs on behalf of residents.  I wish to build up our Economic Development Office so that we don't lose anymore opportunities like the one my friend related above.

On October 20, vote Bill Manners.

 

Endorsement from Chris Novak

I posted the following a couple of weeks ago elsewhere on FB, but in hindsight I should have posted it here.

I was able to have a coffee at Timmie's with Bill yesterday, we talked at length about his planks and platform for the upcoming election. While everyone running is likely to say many similar things on their web sites I am impressed that Bill really has a great depth of detail in his vision for Nanaimo for the next few years. It’s not just talk it’s thoroughly researched ideas and opinions that he can back up with data.
He knows the the legalities of council, the process of council and is a very respectful individual who will serve us well. What impressed me most though is Bill’s desire to improve communications between the general public and council as well as the city staff and council to relieve many of the stresses we have experienced in the past. As Bill said “good communications is a continuous every day process, not just at committee meetings or council meeting, and the questions brought by the public must be answered not ignored as they have been in the past”. (I can certainly vouch for that).
Bills passion for Nanaimo and knowledge of this city plus the endless volunteer work he has been involved with make him an outstanding individual who will give 100% to making Nanaimo great again. Please give Bill your vote for council.

Waterfront Walkway

Without doubt, the jewel of Nanaimo is our waterfront walkway.  It offers sweeping vistas of the harbour, the Coastal Mountains, and various islands along the way.  The expansion of the walkway is something I would like to see completed during my term as councillor.  Being able to walk or cycle from Departure Bay to downtown and beyond on a wide, paved, tree-lined walk with benches and rest stops would be a huge benefit to the residents of Nanaimo.

But there is a problem with the walkway as it is currently configured.  As I mentioned before, the views as you're walking are amazing.  But what happens when you sit down on the benches along many parts of the walkway?  What do you see?

Standing up view you see the harbour and the Beacon  Sitting down view, you see railings at eye level

Railings.

You see railings.  Also crowds of people walking by, blocking your view.

Amanda Burden, who spent 12 years as director of urban planning for New York City, came up with a solution for that problem.  I believe it would work very well in Nanaimo.  What she did was turn the top railing into a long table top and installed bar seating in front of it.  Kind of similar to what they have at the food court in Woodgrove Centre.  Now people can sit at the rails, perhaps eat their lunch, or work on their laptops and still enjoy the view.

I think a similar plan here in Nanaimo would enhance the experience for all residents and tourists using the walkway.  Decreasing the barriers for food trucks along the way, so people could enjoy a quick meal in the fresh air on the waterfront would also be welcome.  Wi-fi nodes along the way could help people stay connected as well.

And what of those benches on the other side of the walkway?  Turn them into conversation areas.  Replace some of the benches with tables and chairs, where people could sit, maybe play board games with each other, enjoy a lunch, or read a book.

It's a small solution that I think could have a big impact on how residents and tourists alike could enjoy our beautiful waterfront.

Better Walking and Cycling in Nanaimo

Pedestrians and cyclists have it tough in Nanaimo.  Sure, there's infrastructure built for them - sidewalks and bike lanes - but there certainly isn't enough of either!  Quite often sidewalks and bike lanes end abruptly, leaving the pedestrian or cyclist hanging.  Sidewalks end in an overgrown dirt trail or are continued on the other side of the street, sometimes switching back and forth from one side of the street to the other several times.  For a pedestrian who has visual or mobility challenges, our sidewalk system is a nightmare.  On the other hand, bike lanes just end.  They'll suddenly appear on the road, continue for a couple of blocks, then disappear.  They don't connect to anything - especially not to other bike lanes.  This just leads to a frustrating situation for cyclists and motorists alike.  Cyclists also face the challenge of crumbling road edges and debris on the road edges which make their commutes more hazardous.

As a city councillor, I'd like to work on a solution to fixing the hodge-podge of pedestrian and cycling routes.  Cyclists need routes which connect to other routes so they can get around the city as efficiently as a motorist can.  High density mixed residential and commercial areas need to have sidewalks installed.  It's ridiculous to ask a person to climb into their car to visit a store which is a five-minute walk or bike ride away from their home simply because there is no safe pedestrian or cycling access.  And yet, in some areas of the city, this is the situation.  It puts more cars on the road and further erodes pedestrian and cyclist safety.

Another factor which would make Nanaimo safer for pedestrians, cyclists and also motorists is lighting.  If you've been to other cities in Canada, you will often notice that street lights are located on both sides of a road.  In Nanaimo, that is often not the case.  Many roads in Nanaimo only have streetlights on one side.  Sometimes the lights are on the side with the sidewalks, sometimes they are not.  If you're a pedestrian, and you are walking on the side of the road without lights, you can become almost invisible to motorists unless you are brightly lit up and have reflective material on your wrists or sewn into your clothing.

One thing that I would be interested to look into with the new mayor and other councillors is intelligent street lighting.  Our next council could draft bylaws to require it in new developments and slowly replace our aging lighting infrastructure as needed.

Intelligent street lighting is lighting that recognizes movement by pedestrians, cyclists, cars, and large wildlife, like deer.  It turns off when there is no movement detected, and brightens as soon as something comes within sensor range.  It can also communicate with neighbouring street lights to ensure that pedestrians and cyclists are safely encircled by light as they travel.  As a homeowner, this enhances the safety of your neighbourhood.  If your street lights come on, it alerts you to activity around your yard and when they are off, it gives you peace of mind, knowing nobody is in your yard.  This also alerts motorists and other users of the road to potential hazards or dangerous situations.  It also saves energy, saving the city money, and lowering our carbon footprint.  It would have the added benefit of lowering light pollution which can affect bird migration patterns, plant growth, disrupt sleep patterns, and takes away the beauty of our night skies.

As Nanaimo's population approaches the 100,000 mark, improving walking, cycling and lighting infrastructure would make this a more livable and environmentally sustainable city for all to enjoy.

A New Idea for Nanaimo Transit

I want the City of Nanaimo to work with the Regional District of Nanaimo to improve our transit service.

What irks you most about Nanaimo transit?

Is it the distance from your home to the nearest bus stop?

Is it the time you have to wait between buses?

Is it the fact that it's faster to walk to some destinations in Nanaimo than to take the bus?

Have you had to give up certain job opportunities because they are not on a bus route, or because the bus doesn't arrive on time for your shift?

Does it give you no time to lead a life because your commute to work eats up too many hours out of your day?

Wouldn't you like your city council to work with the RDN to make some changes to the way that transit is handled in Nanaimo?

It wouldn't be an easy job.  It would require some zoning changes to increase urban density in some areas, for one thing.  We need more apartment buildings that are higher than six stories instead of sprawling buildings that are less than 5 stories, for example.  That would increase the urban density numbers and give us more transit hours.  We would need to create neighbourhood nodes - a system that was looked at a few years ago but fell by the wayside.  This would create destinations for buses to stop at and drive ridership numbers.

The biggest thing would have to be the routes themselves.  What we have clearly isn't working.  Currently, in the evenings, we have three buses that leave Prideaux Street, and head in a northward direction all within a few minutes of each other.  Then there is no other bus going in that direction for an hour or more.  Who does that serve?  Practically no one who wants to shop, take in a beautiful summer evening walk along our waterfront, or spend any sort of time downtown.  Having buses that are leaving at staggered times would be much more practical and go a long ways towards downtown revitalization.

What about this idea?  It's called a backbone system.  Nanaimo is a long, narrow city.  If we have a bus route that just travels up and down the main arteries at regular intervals.  Then we have smaller routes that travel to different neighbourhoods.  The small routes connect to the large route at various nodes along the way.  The large route only stops at those nodes to save time.  It might mean more transfers for some bus users, but it would dramatically decrease the amount of travel time.  During the rush hour, have the large route buses running at 15-minute intervals.  That would make it easier for people to get to work faster and encourage many people to leave their cars at home.  Drop the interval time to 22 minutes during business hours, and 35 minutes in the off hours.  It would certainly decrease the wait times, and make taking a bus a lot more of an attractive option.  The more transit is used the lower the effect it has on taxation.

Why we have so many homeless people in Nanaimo

This past year, the issue of homelessness in Nanaimo has hit the news in a big way.  But the problem has been a long time in the making.  Why do we have issues with homelessness in Nanaimo?

  1. Years of economic neglect by previous city councils: 
    1. The Economic Development office has not been working to attract business and well-paying jobs to Nanaimo.
    2. The red tape to set up a new business is excessive, and it takes too long to jump through the hoops.
    3. Council has been focussed on big projects like Colliery Dam and the Event Centre in recent years.
    4. Businesses are scared off by the local political climate.  There has been too much infighting among council members.  Nanaimo has received too much negative national press about problems with councillors, the former Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer. 
       
  2. The lack of economic opportunities in Nanaimo:
    1. More people are underemployed and working at low-paying jobs. 
    2. Many people need to work 2 or 3 jobs just to pay the rent.
    3. Many people are doubling, tripling up in a home, or even more to spread out the rent costs for one home.
    4. The world economy is changing. Jobs are being lost, or hours on the job are decreased because new technologies are replacing people.
    5. People don’t have the money, time, or other opportunities to retrain for the new workplace requirements if they’re barely making enough money for rent.
    6. Senior’s pensions, social assistance, disability benefits have not kept up with the cost of housing.
       
  3. Housing speculation and the gentrification of older areas of Nanaimo:
    1.  People are buying up all the older housing stock, which used to provide inexpensive rentals.
    2. In our housing market, house-flipping is a sure way to make a lot of money in a short period of time.
    3. They are evicting the tenants, renovating the homes, and selling them to more affluent newcomers to Nanaimo.
    4. This leaves less housing stock available for low-income renters.
    5. Homes which were previously rented by several people together with low incomes and addiction issues or mental health issues have mostly been flipped.  This has pushed these people out into the street and made them homeless.
       
  4. Lack of specifically low-income housing:
    1. Lack of rent-controlled housing for seniors on a fixed pension.
    2. NIMBYism in areas of the city preventing supportive housing from being built.
    3. Airbnb, etc. seen as an alternative means of making money to having long-term tenants.

Moving our Economy Forward

I believe that an effective Economic Development Office is critical to the future of Nanaimo.  We need to bring jobs to our city that pay better than minimum, or near-minimum, wage.  We need our people working in full-time jobs, not trying to juggle two or three part-time jobs.  We need jobs that provide incomes that will enable residents to buy homes and land.  In order to do that we need a cohesive council that is willing to work with each other to achieve a positive goal of moving our community forward. 

I am reminded of the City of Chilliwack, which invited businesses to contact the Mayor’s office if they wanted to locate or relocate their enterprise there.  Large billboards on both sides of the highway encouraged a call to the Mayor’s office for such reasons, and it worked extremely well.

In the last few years, the Economic Development Office of Nanaimo has concentrated on residential improvements throughout our city.  However, I believe our focus needs to expand to diversify our economy to include sustainable jobs.

A current example is the automobile dealerships proposed for the former home of Long Lake Nursery.  Under Zoning Bylaw 4500, that property is zoned as Community Corridor COR3, which allows for site-specific use as Automobile Sales, Services and Rentals.  The Official Community Plan (OCP) is a living document that may be amended from time to time to reflect changes in the community.  City staff is recommending land elsewhere for this project, which is zoned Industrial I2.  It does not allow Automobile Sales.  That could be changed under the OCP living document criteria.

As mentioned earlier, we need jobs that will help us, and this $10M project will create a new estimated job market of 70 family-income jobs in sales, parts, and servicing of automobiles.  The changes to the OCP will allow the creation of jobs that are in the $60,000-$150,000 year range, well over the living wage level, plus the creation of apprenticing partnerships with Vancouver Island University. 

This is just one example of the types of projects we need in Nanaimo to move into tomorrow.  Taking the financial pressure off the residents by giving them the opportunities to earn a higher income will go a long way towards solving our homelessness problem, help other areas of our local economy to flourish, add vibrancy to our communities, and provide a stable basis for a sustainable future for our city.

A forward thinking incoming council can work together to make necessary changes to our OCP and zoning amendments to effect change as we pass the 100,000 population mark.  This will help our current and future residents enjoy a more prosperous, vibrant and sustainable future.

Nanaimo needs a council that is aware of what changes we can make.  They need to be constantly aware of the possibilities and ramifications for the future with each change.  And they must allow for consideration of the overall population of Nanaimo.  This is something I strongly believe I can add to as part of the next city council.

The role of Councillor and my qualifications

A councillor should have a genuine interest in serving and being responsible to all citizens of Nanaimo. A successful candidate must have significant knowledge and dedication. A councillor must understand the budget process, how it affects the city population, and be able to communicate the goals of Nanaimo’s financial plan to residents. I strongly believe a councillor needs an understanding of municipal and regional governance responsibilities expected by residents of the entire city of Nanaimo, and most importantly have the communication skills to engage with residents of Nanaimo.  I have those abilities.

I have had an interest in the political arena since 1966, initially in the provincial government.  Mentored and inspired by Tommy Douglas, Frank Ney and Dale Lovick’s political teachings, I learned how municipal governance differed from provincial governance.  City governance is the closest to engage with the public out of all other levels of government.  I have regularly followed Nanaimo’s elected officials and gave my first presentation to them in 1984.  Since then I have grown politically.  My attendance and participation since 2011 by actively giving presentations, being a delegate, serving on the community engagement task force is proof of my dedication.  I believe a successful city is one where Nanaimo council members engage successfully with the public, staff and other council members positively.  I have done so increasingly in the last 4 years.

I have experience in Public Speaking with Toastmasters International, achieving my Able Toastmaster award in my first two years as a member.  I then taught public speaking at Vancouver Island University (then Malaspina College), Cedar 4H club, and to Miss Nanaimo contestants. I continued my growth as a public speaker through the volunteer positions as Secretary, Educational Vice President and Club President of Toastmasters.

Working with Sooter Studios as a regional representative for British Columbia, I had to have a vast knowledge on budgets and forecasting expenditures and estimating income along with providing management skills with the district and areas around the province.

Working at Hi-Tec Industries as a truss designer, I had to hold a high standard towards the safety of residents whose roofs we designed and built which required approval by qualified engineers.

I have extensive knowledge of the transportation and infrastructure needs around the city with over four decades of experience in the limousine, bus, taxi, and airline businesses in and around our city.

I have actively participated with Nanaimo City Council by attending council meetings, asking questions, and appearing as a delegate and presenting information over the years.  In 2010, I worked closely with City Staff to create a training manual for the TaxiHost Program to be used by both Swiftsure and AC Taxi companies.  My activity increased when I became Chair of the NoVote2017 Society, which was opposed to the Event Centre.  Currently I am a member of the Community Engagement Task Force as one of two Spokespersons, along with Erin Hemmens. 

I pride myself on my logical thinking skills and my ability to imagine the different types of applications of the many bylaws and daily decisions required by councillors.

View older posts »

Poll

Want to Help?

Do you want to help Bill Manners become a Councillor for the City of Nanaimo?  Any help, or donations would be gratefully appreciated.  For more information, please contact us at billmanners@2018council.com