Nanaimo councillors identify top priority projects

NANAIMO – Council heads into retreat to discuss strategic
priorities for coming years.

A new football stadium, paddling centre and an Internet ‘backbone’ are on the wish lists of civic politicians as Nanaimo city council gets ready to hash out top capital priorities.

Council will firm up its capital projects and strategic initiatives for the rest of the term during a retreat Wednesday (June 15).

The lack of a “clear and well-communicated” vision and strategic plan was found to be a key roadblock to optimum performance, in a core services review. The review recommended councillors adopt the vision the community and council created four years ago or come up with a new one.

Councillors, who have been working on their strategic vision, opted to stick with a 2012-15 plan with some calling it a good plan and one that’s served them well. The task now is adding their own priorities, including up to five capital projects.

The initiatives politicians choose will lead to operational plans, targeted dollars and outreach to the business community and economic development corporation for endorsement and support, according to city manager Tracy Samra. She anticipates access to the south industrial waterfront will be one of those priorities.

“I can’t imagine that not being No. 1 on the list,” she said.

Coun. Diane Brennan considers the strategic and capital priority-setting process “vitally important.”

“If this council is going to have an achievement to talk about at the end of our term, we need to buckle down now and agree on some works and then do them,” Brennan said.

She wants to build something that fits with the vision of changing Nanaimo into a destination, while ensuring what is developed is accessible for everyone who needs to recreate.

One project she’s interested in is a paddling centre on the Newcastle Channel. There’s a group that already has a plan in order, has completed a feasibility study and are ready to go, but needs the city to make the building a priority so it can fundraise, said Brennan. Paddling sports are becoming more popular, it’s accessible to people and it’s not expensive for the city to get involved in the site because there is a group dedicated to raising the money and then asking the city to take over operation, she said.

Coun. Jerry Hong is interested in an Internet backbone that will allow for high-speed connections, which he said will help keep bright minds in Nanaimo.

The city-owned 1 Port Dr. is also a priority for Hong, who would like to address access.

He doesn’t want to see the city spend money to replace a trestle, a project budgeted to cost $6 million, but does want a road network done as well as consultation with the port authority and Snuneymuxw on another entrance.

Mayor Bill McKay, who is interested in a football or multi-use stadium at Rotary Bowl, said he’d like council to pick three to six projects and go to the community in a town-hall format to get a better feeling of where people want to see resources allocated.

“I don’t want council to pick them. I want the community to pick them,” he said. “Some of them should require long-term debt, so you are far better off to go to the community to determine what their thoughts are before you go to the community for assent of a capital borrowing of 20 or 25 years.”

Councillors will discuss priorities at a retreat next week and a report is expected June 20.

A new football stadium, paddling centre and an Internet ‘backbone’ are on the wish lists of civic politicians as Nanaimo city council gets ready to hash out top capital priorities.

Council will firm up its capital projects and strategic initiatives for the rest of the term during a retreat Wednesday (June 15).

The lack of a “clear and well-communicated” vision and strategic plan was found to be a key roadblock to optimum performance, in a core services review. The review recommended councillors adopt the vision the community and council created four years ago or come up with a new one.

Councillors, who have been working on their strategic vision, opted to stick with a 2012-15 plan with some calling it a good plan and one that’s served them well. The task now is adding their own priorities, including up to five capital projects.

The initiatives politicians choose will lead to operational plans, targeted dollars and outreach to the business community and economic development corporation for endorsement and support, according to city manager Tracy Samra. She anticipates access to the south industrial waterfront will be one of those priorities.

“I can’t imagine that not being No. 1 on the list,” she said.

Coun. Diane Brennan considers the strategic and capital priority-setting process “vitally important.”

“If this council is going to have an achievement to talk about at the end of our term, we need to buckle down now and agree on some works and then do them,” Brennan said.

She wants to build something that fits with the vision of changing Nanaimo into a destination, while ensuring what is developed is accessible for everyone who needs to recreate.

One project she’s interested in is a paddling centre on the Newcastle Channel. There’s a group that already has a plan in order, has completed a feasibility study and are ready to go, but needs the city to make the building a priority so it can fundraise, said Brennan. Paddling sports are becoming more popular, it’s accessible to people and it’s not expensive for the city to get involved in the site because there is a group dedicated to raising the money and then asking the city to take over operation, she said.

Coun. Jerry Hong is interested in an Internet backbone that will allow for high-speed connections, which he said will help keep bright minds in Nanaimo.

The city-owned 1 Port Dr. is also a priority for Hong, who would like to address access.

He doesn’t want to see the city spend money to replace a trestle, a project budgeted to cost $6 million, but does want a road network done as well as consultation with the port authority and Snuneymuxw on another entrance.

Mayor Bill McKay, who is interested in a football or multi-use stadium at Rotary Bowl, said he’d like council to pick three to six projects and go to the community in a town-hall format to get a better feeling of where people want to see resources allocated.

“I don’t want council to pick them. I want the community to pick them,” he said. “Some of them should require long-term debt, so you are far better off to go to the community to determine what their thoughts are before you go to the community for assent of a capital borrowing of 20 or 25 years.”

Councillors will discuss priorities at a retreat next week and a report is expected June 20.