Apologies, promises from Nanaimo council following referendum results

By Spencer Sterritt
March 14, 2017 - 5:59pm

Coun. Bill Bestwick, during Monday's City Council meeting, discussing criticisms levied against council for their involvement in the event centre referendum. City of Nanaimo

NANAIMO — As the dust settled from the events centre referendum, a project 80 per cent of voters were against, some Nanaimo city councillors apologized for the “rushed experience.”

Coun. Jerry Hong said he'd made inflammatory comments on social media because he was caught up in his passion for the project, which he admitted was handled quickly.

Specifically, he apologized to local promoter Andrew Roberts following their interactions online.

“I think my comments were in a passion against what he said and I'm sorry that I said that to him.”

Coun. Ian Thorpe agreed with Hong about how rushed the lead-up to the referendum was, largely due to pressure from the Western Hockey League.

He said the overwhelming turnout sent a “definite message” from the community about their lack of trust in City Council.

“I hope that's a lesson we will take to heart (which) the next 18 months will show,” he said.

With the event centre now in council's rear view, Thorpe said he's excited to pick up various, smaller projects where they left off.

“There's several which seem to have fallen off the table,” Thorpe said.

In his statement, coun. Bill Bestwick struck a different tone and started by explaining his reasons for supporting the project.

He said it was now time to move forward by “pulling up our big boy pants and take the criticisms that are levied against us and myself personally for the direction we chose to go.”

Bestwick pondered what was next and “where we go from here.” He said they need to “work towards something that assumedly the community told us they want. I know they told us what they don't want, loud and clear.”

For possible options of future projects, Bestwick said if there's a difference between what the community and council wants “it's your duty to tell me this is what our preferences are.”

Coun. Diane Brennan thanked the community for “showing their colours” throughout the referendum process.

“Everyone got involved for the most part, everyone was thoughtful and worked very hard,” she said.

-with files from Dominic Abassi


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On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit


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