To the editor,
Re: Let’s vote in a council that sees Nanaimo’s potential, Opinion, Oct. 4.
The excitement in Nanaimo about our new city council and the desire for change is palpable, equal to the disappointment and dissatisfaction with the previous council. The expectations are high, but we’re going to have to cool our heels.
A few weeks before the election I wrote an opinion piece about the potential Nanaimo has and the kind of council we needed to elect in order to realize these opportunities. Well, we did it and, thankfully, our new mayor and council appear to be up to the challenge. Many people think this may be the best council Nanaimo has ever had. Already people are talking excitedly about the changes they want to see happen.
However, change will take time because these new councillors have inherited quite a mess. Over the past few years there’s been an unprecedented loss of senior staff. There are significant financial challenges related to the expenses of the proposed event centre, payouts to former managers, and the failure to approve the budget recommended by staff. There are also human rights issues and at least one pending lawsuit related to improper dismissal. There’s tent city, and the failure to acquire grants for low-barrier housing. There’s the need to restore an effective committee structure and to rebuild staff morale. Those are just some of the things our new council has on its plate.
On the campaign trail all the candidates talked about their vision and the great things that they believed could happen for our downtown, our local economy, affordable housing, accessible transportation, environmental planning, support for arts and culture, the waterfront, and so forth. But they will need to begin by ensuring that experienced and capable city management is in place.
I have my own wish list, but I’m going to wait. I’m prepared to support this council into its second term while feeling confident that they are being ethical, responsible, thoughtful, civil and collaborative in the way they are carrying out their duties.
The changes we need won’t happen overnight. But it’s good to know that, because of the problems we’ve experienced over the past couple of years, we now have a very engaged community of people and we will be watching to make sure that these changes do happen.
Carol Matthews, Nanaimo
The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.