Chamber chat

As we launch into 2013, the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce board of directors recently approved a five-year strategic plan that has identified where and what we want to focus on for the next five years.

*  Our four major goals include:

*  Provide effective advocacy;

*  Improve engagement with members and the business community;

*  Membership value;

*  Membership services and growth of the chamber.

As zealous advocates for our members, we committed to scrutinize the City of Nanaimo’s 2013 budget.

The 2013 budget is now posted on the city’s website. The total 2013 budget is $175.7 million, with $123.2 million for operating and $52.5 million for capital.

Council’s policy has been to reduce the industrial tax rate to the same level as commercial and this was planned over four years (2009-12). The drop in commercial rate in 2010 increased the gap and extended the program to five years. The shift will be completed in 2013.

You will note that the city is now addressing “asset management” to discuss the replacement of infrastructure over time. In your home, things break down over time and have to be replaced and it is no different with our community infrastructure, like roads and sewers.

Wally Wells, an asset management specialist and past chairman of the chamber, recently spoke to council on this subject.  He commended the city for taking a lead on this critical issue that is facing communities across Canada.

His key salient point was to start a process to engage residents in a dialogue about affordability. The demands and request on council for funding far exceed the current revenue streams. Adding future infrastructure requirements triggers greater tax increases and this will affect every taxpayer, resident and business operator.

He encouraged council to hold discussions with the taxpaying public based on a realistic appraisal of our status today, an understanding of our challenges for the future and a solid plan to guide us there.

We must look at what people are willing to pay to match what we can deliver.

A crisis is around the corner if we do not address the issue both short and long term.

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