City council will consider a proposed policy for future support of Nanaimo’s neighbourhood associations. (News Bulletin file photo)

City council will consider a proposed policy for future support of Nanaimo’s neighbourhood associations. (News Bulletin file photo)

City of Nanaimo developing policy for working relationships with neighbourhood associations

City to formalize ways to recognize, consult with and support neighbourhood associations

The City of Nanaimo will work on a more structured policy around its working relationship with neighbourhood associations.

The city’s governance and priorities committee met with neighbourhood association representatives this past Monday, Dec. 13, to discuss ways to recognize, consult with and support the associations. City staff recommended that councillors continue support for active neighbourhood associations that maintain basic organizational criteria.

To receive support, associations must have an elected executive that meets at least once a year, hold annual general meetings, keep minutes of meetings, engage with members before responding to city development referrals, and provide updates to association members.

Staff also recommended that a policy regarding neighbourhood association recognition and city supports be prepared for consideration by council. The policy is intended to formalize the informal support and additional supports the city has provided to neighbourhood associations and, under the policy, associations with registered society status would also be eligible to apply for operational funding assistance under a proposed neighbourhood grants program.

Topics discussed Monday included how to best disseminate information between the city and neighbourhood residents, how to determine which associations meet the criteria for formal recognition, and how to formalize neighbourhood boundaries.

Neighbourhood associations had previously met with city staff to hammer out the details, but not all representatives said they were able and ready to meet formalized standards to receive city assistance.

“We have problems coming to consensus within our own organization. We’ve been sitting here talking with you for hours. I don’t really think we’re much further ahead,” said Tim McGrath, Nanaimo Neighbourhood Network representative. “We’ve made some development, some movement, but I don’t think we’re ready yet to decide how it’s going to be done – is it even in the budget? … We’ve been meeting with city staff for almost a year, but we’re still not there. Not even close.”

Barry Lyseng, Stephenson Point Neighbourhood Association rep, suggested it could be a good idea to have city councillors connected to neighbourhood associations for better communication and sharing of information, as is done in Victoria, but he also noted that Nanaimo has 22 neighbourhood associations and only nine council members.

The majority of the governance and priorities committee members expressed support for city staff recommendations.

“This is about encouraging citizens to participate in their neighbourhoods and also to give their views in, perhaps, somewhat of a more organized or orderly fashion than one-offs when it comes to things that the city is proposing to do that will impact on them or their neighbouring neighbours, so I think it’s worth doing. Let’s get on with it…” said Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog. “I’m certainly not supporting going down the Victoria road at this stage. I just don’t see the need for it.”

The committee voted unanimously to have the both staff recommendations go before council at the Monday, Dec. 20, council meeting.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Neighbourhood voices are worth listening to

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