If city council isn’t moving Nanaimo forward, then in which direction are we moving?
Council’s conduct has been concerning enough that it came under fire this week from the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce. Contending that councillors are not honouring their commitment under the Community Charter, the chamber launched a petition calling for councillors to work together and work effectively.
No matter how many people sign the petition, it doesn’t bind council to do anything. But it’s a manifestation of growing frustration among voters, among ratepayers, among the business community.
The recent revelation that the city will continue to spend money on a facilitator to help politicians get along should concern any of us who democratically elected the men and women who control the public purse-strings. Having spent $50,000 thus far, Mayor Bill McKay is willing to double up on that sum, despite an admission that he has seen no improvement to council’s co-operation and comportment. If there’s been no improvement, then that sure makes it easy to calculate our value for dollar – zip, zero, zilch.
Interestingly, $50,000 is twice as much money as neighbouring Lantzville spent on a byelection after its council disintegrated. We’re not advocating resignations and byelections, because that would only further hamper council’s decision-making at a time when its decision-making is already being criticized by no less an authority than the chamber of commerce. We’re simply calling for a more concerted effort.
This petition might embarrass councillors, but it doesn’t put any obligation on them. Their obligation is, and remains, to represent the city, taxpayers and all citizens.
Council doesn’t need to sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya, but it does need to sit in its semicircle once a week and take care of business, our business, the business of moving the city forward.