New Nanaimo Council rescinds old guard directives, including call for phase 2 of core review

By Dominic Abassi
March 13, 2019 - 5:22pm

Several motions passed by the previous council are off the books, including a call for work to begin on phase two of the core review.Spencer Sterritt/NanaimoNewsNOW

Nanaimo's fledgling Council wiped from the books two initiatives viewed as priorities by the previous administration.

At a meeting earlier in March, councillors voted to rescind a handful of motions following a staff report outlining the current status of a lengthy list of Council directives spanning as far back as 2017.

Included in the pulled motions was a directive from former coun. Gord Fuller for staff to begin work on the scope of phase two of the core services review and a motion calling on the City to get involved in the effort to overthrow the Port of Nanaimo's control of the inner harbour.

Coun. Tyler Brown said for him, the process was about ensuring staff had clear direction about what they should be focusing their efforts on.

"Some of the things that have been rescinded were just cleaning up," Brown told NanaimoNewsNOW. "Some of the other ones can be more viewed as 'Hey, let's just pump the brakes and figure out our priorities.' Some of these items we may wish to pursue, but at this time we just want to let staff have an understanding it's not an immediate concern."

Fuller's December 2017 motion on phase two of the core review called on staff to recommend the scope of the project, with "the intent upon Council approval of moving forward as early in 2018 as possible."

But in the months after that motion was passed, the City's chief administrative officer went on leave after being arrested and her replacement was suspended and subsequently fired

The recent staff report said the status of Fuller's motion was "not started."

Brown said he felt the new council needs to first examine phase one to get an idea of what progress was made on the 70 recommendations contained in the $250,000 review.

"Once we have our strategic plan developed we can start to say some of these items are worth pursuing and some can be considered done or not important...Until we have that conversation, I think it was just responsible to take that off the books and maybe push pause on it for a bit."

Council is scheduled to receive a core review update from staff later in March during a committee meeting. The most recent information from the City stated 11 of the 70 recommendations were complete, with 31 in progress. It remains largely unclear how much of the supposed $4-million in savings were achieved.

"Until we get phase one finished, I'm not in favour of pursuing phase two," coun. Sheryl Armstrong told NanaimoNewsNOW. "I'm totally in favour of core reviews, I think they're very important in showing where we're at and what we can do better. I'm in support of it, but not at this time."

Another 2017 motion stricken from the record directed staff to coordinate a meeting between Snuneymuxw First Nation, the City and the Greater Nanaimo Harbour Association to "further discuss the next steps regarding Nation-to-Nation discussions."

The initiative related to vigorous efforts by a local businessman and SFN to remove the Port of Nanaimo's governance of the harbour. Even at the time staff warned Council it was not an area the City should seek to get involved in.

Coun. Armstrong said it's her belief the City has no place in those discussions.

"I think we need to stay at arm's-length. That's a decision between the federal government, port authority and (harbour) association," she said.

Coun. Brown said the current Council is making a concerted effort to strengthen and create robust relationships and getting involved in the squabble with the Port didn't "fit into that narrative."

"It made a lot of sense to rescind that motion from my perspective. Let's talk with the Port, let's talk with Snuneymuxw...Until we develop those relationships and have those conversations, I think it's a safe and responsible thing to take it off the books."

Staff earlier told NanaimoNewsNOW the previous Council's insistence the City become involved in the matter would only serve to complicate key initiatives ongoing with the Port, including the waterfront walkway expansion.

Brown was asked if it's fair to say the recently-elected officials were in some ways wiping the slate clean from the previous four years.

"I think an element of that would be true," Brown said. "Each new council has its own flavour and values which guide decision making. But with that said, you can also build on the work of the last council and have some alignment."


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