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City of Nanaimo takes steps toward publicly owned bus stops

Contracts with private suppliers extended for two years while city staff develops business plan
Nanaimo city councillors have recommended a motion for staff to report on a bus shelter strategy, co-created by the city and the regional district. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Decisions made at a committee meeting last week will buy time for the City of Nanaimo to plan the future of its bus stops.

The city wants to increase public transit ridership over the next 20 years and will need more bus stop benches and shelters, but contracts with the companies that provide bus stop amenities will terminate in June, so the city is exploring the feasibility of staying with the current arrangement with private contractors or moving to a city- and regional district-owned system.

At a governance and priorities committee meeting Jan. 24, councillors recommended that city staff prepare a report on a strategy for bus shelters to be co-owned by the City of Nanaimo and Regional District of Nanaimo. City staff had recommended, due to a lack of financial and staff resources, that existing private contracts be extended for two years while a business plan is prepared be part of 2023 budgeting.

Coun. Erin Hemmens put forward a motion to direct staff to prepare a report with costing for a non-profit bus shelter strategy. She said the reasoning behind the motion was to look at partnerships with institutions, such as Vancouver Island University, which through its trades programs could possibly produce bus shelters to the city at reduced cost.

Coun. Tyler Brown proposed an amendment to broaden the motion to ensure future contracts for building bus stop shelters are open to local for-profit companies to spur innovation. He suggested the city should explore what a not-for-profit model might look like and also see what potential for-profit suppliers could offer, “ in accordance with sustainable procurement principles.”

Councillors voted for the amendment with Coun. Ian Thorpe opposed.

“Social procurement doesn’t necessarily mean dealing with non-profit organizations … and I think [staff is] hearing from us that council wishes them to broaden the scope of their possible options … I’m not convinced that any other motion is necessary right now … I’m happy to leave things as they are for two years and trust that staff will bring back a fulsome set of options and recommendations at that time,” Thorpe said.

Hemmens’s motion also passed with councillors Thorpe and Jim Turley opposed.

The existing contracts will be extended under the authority of the city director of finance and a business plan will be presented as part of 2023-27 financial planning.

READ ALSO: City of Nanaimo deciding if it should pay for bus shelters and benches or keep contracting out

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Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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