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OPINION: This election is Nanaimo’s most important ever

Guest columns co-ordinated by Our Nanaimo and the chamber of commerce will be published Thursdays

BY REBECCA CHAN

The News Bulletin is presenting a series of guest columns co-ordinated by the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce and the Our Nanaimo voter engagement group.

Nanaimo has already seen the negative effects of what happens with an ineffective city council. This election, as with every election, we have a chance to see how things could be different, and after the last four years, we must get our city back on track. Our current council has lost us millions of dollars – imagine what a good council, with teamwork, conflict management skills and vision, could do.

Municipal government can sometimes be lost in the shuffle in comparison to provincial and federal organizations. But as we in Nanaimo have seen since 2014, municipal governments control corporations worth millions, and their decisions affect thousands. From cleaning (and constructing) sidewalks, to fostering local businesses, to supporting arts initiatives, to approving what buildings get built where, municipal government affects so much of our everyday lives that its importance cannot be underestimated.

Just a few of the effects of our current council:

The B.C. Attorney General is taking a councillor and three private citizens to court.

Two special prosecutor investigations.

A councillor’s resignation.

Numerous legal proceedings.

A camp of homeless people, with no solution to help anyone involved in sight.

Countless national headlines – if you Google ‘Nanaimo city council dysfunction,’ there are almost 60,000 results, and the first page is just articles from the past two years.

Seven million dollars lost in provincial funding for supportive housing.

How can we end this chaos, and dysfunction, and frustration, and confusion? We vote.

Take this chance to make a change, and make all nine votes count. What do you love about our city? What would you love to see change in our city?

As a young adult and former VIU student, the incredible parks and our downtown full of small independent businesses are things I would never change about Nanaimo. But I and many of my peers are still waiting for every neighbourhood to have regular and reliable transit, sidewalks, and affordable housing.

Housing is on everyone’s mind, and as someone who is hoping to buy a home one day, I and many others are worried that by the time we are ready to buy, there will not be any homes we can afford. We have also seen a distinct lack of city support for the downtown core over the past term – for many sectors, just a few strategic city initiatives could make all the difference between failure and success.

There are qualified candidates who are ready to help us realize those visions of a thriving, growing, dynamic, attractive city. Attend as many events as possible, take advantage of the internet providing access from your home directly to qualified candidates’ platforms and websites. There are multiple places to obtain lists of candidates. Our Nanaimo has several tools available online to help you track who is running and what they stand for.

Nanaimo has the chance to not just recover, but to grow. Tell your friends, tell your neighbours, tell your family, tell every cashier and bank teller you see – on Oct. 20, Nanaimo gets to vote. We have to take it seriously. Vote smart.

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