Nanaimo questions need for liaison committee for Island Corridor Foundation

NANAIMO – The Island Corridor Foundation is offering municipalities a seat on a liaison committee to express concerns, get information.

Nanaimo city council refuses to sit on an Island Corridor Foundation liaison committee, despite the offer of improved communication.

Nanaimo city council voted 5-3 Monday against appointing a member to the liaison committee, set up by the Island Corridor Foundation board of directors with an aim to improve communication with local government.

The board has invited representatives from jurisdictions where the railroad passes through to meet twice a year with the foundation and Southern Railway staff to express concerns and get information.

Coun. Bill Yoachim called the liaison redundant, pointing out that the information the person could share is the same the mayor could share.

Mayor Bill McKay is chairman of the foundation board and the regional district’s representative. Yoachim also said if it were up to him he’d make the motion “we don’t support this and we’d like to turn that piece into a green space for walkways and cyclists, like what they’re doing over in Vancouver.”

Coun. Bill Bestwick said he is not in favour of sending a representative to attend two more meetings to listen to Island Corridor Foundation “propaganda” and they already have a board representative in the mayor.

Coun. Gord Fuller questioned if there’s even such a thing as a local government liaison committee. He doesn’t see the point to the committee other than the foundation trying to “finagle something out of the individual communities now that it’s losing support of the regional districts,” he said.

Councillors Ian Thorpe, Wendy Pratt and Diane Brennan were against the motion, seeing the committee as an opportunity to get information.

“We have complained all along that we are not getting enough information. This is an opportunity for us to go and see what’s happening,” Pratt said.

According to Judith Sayers, foundation board co-chairwoman, a disadvantage is that ICF board members must leave the room during discussion about the foundation at regional district board meetings. The committee is a way to get more information out to communities.

That Nanaimo has chosen not to participate is their free choice, she said, adding the door will always be open.

McKay left the room during the discussion.

He told the News Bulletin the committee is not a decision-making body and only there to keep member municipalities up to speed on activities of the foundation.