Sunday, November 23, 2014

Political Integrity

As one who has run for political office I always tried to campaign as I live: with integrity. I'm certainly not perfect, but I do my best to live with honesty, respect and more.

I know all too well that there are many politicians who will do what it takes to win an election, including lying, making promises they cannot (or will not) keep, and bowing to the wishes of their funders rather than the electorate.

Thus I am most concerned about a well-supported accusation that one of the local councillor candidates for Nanaimo's Council, who barely gained enough votes to be reelected, has been accused of breaking Elections BC rules on voting day (November 15, 2014). There is evidence strongly suggesting that she engaged her supporters through social media -even after being told by Elections BC that day that she was breaking the rules.

I have written Elections BC requesting that they investigate. They are the best body to do so. If the allegations are correct, and that she continued to tweet and F.B. post after being told not to, she could be fined something like $5,000 and/or go to jail. But she would not lose her seat unless she graciously stepped down, creating a by-election.

Her public response thus far has been to say that she is being persecuted. This is not a good sign. Since she appears to have admitted to engaging in this activity, and as a candidate was responsible for knowing the election rules, if she is not willing to be held accountable for her actions then is she but one more example of why so many are turned off from politics? I hope not. If Elections BC determines that she broke the election law I think it only honourable that she resign her seat and run a new campaign, hopefully one that is above reproach.

We need to regain some trust in our elected officials. What is the alternative?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Choosing Nanaimo's next Council

As I reflect on the Nanaimo municipal election November 15th I am aware that the candidates have real skills and talent, so the choice is very difficult. I think I could work with virtually all of them (a good sign!).

So how to choose? I made up a list of my values and then tried to rate the candidates based on that list. Not an easy task. There are a lot of candidates, many of whom I do not know. I sourced my information from in-person, on-line, newspaper and the opinion of others.

Oh, and because incumbents usually get enough votes I have not included them on this list; although Fred Pattje earns my respect because he goes to the most community events, takes personal interest in connecting with people, is willing to take on city staff, is a team player, is an independent thinker, is willing to change his mind (e.g. Leadercast), understands how to make the city more sustainable and shows his care for people and the city.
I chose based on my perception of their ability to:

1. connect with and really hear where people are coming from
2. be astute managers –which includes putting sufficient effort to listen to people; do their own research; attend meetings and public events; and be able to make their own decisions (vs. blindly vote along with others)
3. think through problems creatively, preferably by finding “win-win” solutions for all involved
4. balance fiscal restraints with community needs
5. sniff out when staff are trying to manipulate councillors to vote a certain way
6. have a vision of sustainability and affordability for the community and our planetary home (most candidates did very poorly on this, in my estimate; more info about their opinions appears at the bottom of this document and is well worth checking out)
7. be authentic (not fake or egotistical)
8. be a team player: genuinely work with other councillors and the mayor
9. Extra point for being a woman (my bias: we need more of them)
10. Extra point for being First Nation (again my bias, for the same reason, especially after the Colliery dams were saved by the then Chief Douglas White)

Please note that none of the above parameters consider the usual “right-left” wing perspective, although those who are stuck in a narrow perspective are unlikely to score very high on most of these parameters.

Those who received 5 or more points:

Karen Hovestad: 8/10
Bill Yochum: 7/10
Gail Adrienne: 7/10
Gord Fuller: 6/10
Leon Cake: 6/10
Fred Brooks: 6/10
Geraldine Manson: 5.5/10
Steven Cockrane: 5/10

For mayor only two made 5 points or more:
Bill Holdom (6/10)
Bill McKay (5/10)Both are strong leaders, but with very different styles. I wish we could have both!

Please note that one can elect to vote for as few as one councillor. Do vote only for those whom you really can support. That's what I'll be doing.

It appears more interest is being expressed in this election as there is a mood for some change in city hall. I am glad that people are becoming engaged. Cities increasingly have the most important level of government when it comes to livability. Please vote. Here is the website to the voting locations:

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Engaging the Community for Positive Outcomes

Too often citizens feel frustrated and unheard/valued by elected officials and their staff.

In Nanaimo on October 4th about 100 people gathered for a community event that heard both local and international folk talk about how they are creating more vibrant communities by putting waste resources into better use. This reduces pollution, saves resources, creates jobs, and brings decision-making back into local control.

The results of the day are phenomenal! Great ideas are being sent to the Regional District's solid waste management plan (who needs an incinerator!). A local Zero Waste organisation is likely to be formed, and could be the base of B.C.'s Zero Waste chapter.

This is what happens when citizens are given an opportunity to learn and then be heard!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Zero Waste conference in Nanaimo Oct 2-4, 2014

With Metro Vancouver threatening our immediate coastal communities with up to 7 garbage incinerators, the international zero waste community is coming to Nanaimo to help us defeat this plan with some sane, sustainable, solutions that create way more jobs, too!
International Zero Waste Conference in Nanaimo Oct 2-4, 2014

Next week, starting Thursday the 2nd, over 30 international speakers who know how to put waste materials back into use and create jobs, will be coming to Nanaimo. First time in Canada! They normally meet in major cities. We convinced the host, Zero Waste Canada, to pick us over Toronto and Vancouver!

Nanaimo welcomes them!

If you care about reducing global warming, increasing local jobs and economic opportunities, and providing a future for our children then do come to one or more events!

Pre-conference Monday the 29th 6:30 p.m. The film Trashed will be shown at the Nanaimo VIU campus, Building 356, Rm. 109. This is a very informative film about what is happening in a very quickly expanding business of handling waste! Then the conference will show us how to improve in this regard! No admission cost.

Thursday Oct 2 The Coast Bastion hotel, Nanaimo
Conference begins at 8:15 a.m. Keynote speaker: from New York, Dr. Paul Connett, author of The Zero Waste Solution. This is Dr. Connett’s second time speaking in Nanaimo. Following his first visit in 1989 the region’s plans for a local incinerator went sideways and we became the leading recycling community in western Canada.

Thursday evening film: The Clean Bin Project, a fun film about a couple who tried to live zero waste for 1 year! VIU, Nanaimo campus, Building 356, Rm. 109. Starts at 7 p.m. No admission cost.

Friday Oct 3 The Coast Bastion hotel, Nanaimo
Keynote speaker: the funny and insightful Dan Phillips, founder of Phoenix Commotion. He is a builder and designer from Texas. Phillips will provide the audience with an in depth look into re-purposed building methods.

Friday evening DANCE: Resources Rock! Featuring the highly danceable live music of Paul and Jess. For all ages, and includes refreshments! Beer and wine will be available for sale. More info and tickets   Tickets are also on sale at the Thirsty Camel and the Green Store in Nanaimo, and Shades of Green in Parksville.

Saturday Oct 4 Christ Community Church, corner of Bowen and Northfield (2221 Bowen Rd, Nanaimo) 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Community event! “From Trash to Treasures”, featuring

  • international and local speakers, including one from Italy who led the movement to stop incinerators and a local gal who turns pallets into furniture!
  •  a creative children’s program,
  •  free bicycle repair,
  • household items and appliance repair -free of charge!
  • an opportunity to have a major say about future government programs (no incinerators required!)
  • Zero Waste Youth International meets
  • catered lunch available

Saturday’s tickets are only $15 for adults, all others free! Can’t afford to come? Make a donation at the door! The children’s program, repair programs and youth event are free!

Be a part of at least one historical event. They will all be great! Let’s show the world it was worth coming all the way here to improve the way we live our lives!

For more information or to get tickets online go to

Friday, July 4, 2014

Appreciating our city's elected officials

My fellow community members:

Fred Pattje
You may not be aware that Nanaimo’s city councillors and mayor have taken a huge pounding over their decision to disallow a leadership conference in May. While they regret their decision, and apologised for it at last evening’s special council meeting (July 3/14), they are still getting pounded. I consider that campaign to be psychological warfare.

The councillor who moved the motion to prevent the event, and who yesterday bravely moved the motion to rescind that decision, is councillor Fred Pattje. He has been the one who has taken the greatest hit from these phone calls and e-mail’s. This has been a dark time for him.

Quite apart from the rightness or wrongness of his original motion -it is how he has been treated, mostly by people living outside of our city, that has gone far beyond disrespectful. One writer wished him to die of AIDS.

I appeal to you to do one simple, yet humane thing: write him a one or two sentence e-mail message, or quick phone call, thanking him for serving us. He is a very community-minded person, going way beyond what is expected of a part-time councillor. His is a thankless job. I think he deserves better from all of us, but especially at this time. They all do.

If you agree do to this, please make sure that the title of the message is positive so that he knows it isn’t more hate being thrown at him. I am writing a message that is simply entitled “Thank you,” but anything pleasant will likely be appreciated.; 250-758-7575 (home phone)

If you wish to write to all of the councillors and mayor you can use this address: mayor&

I also request that you ask others to give Fred and the others respect for what they have endured on our behalf. 

Thank you.


My speech to Nanaimo’s Mayor and Council July 3, 2014 re: a motion to rescind an earlier decision to ban an organisation from using the conference centre

Mayor and Council: I am very sad to have had our fair city, and you as council members in particular, not only judged for your decision but even abused for having made it. I believe that you have been subjected to psychological warfare. Some media have been happy to join in –at your, and our, expense.

Some say that you as a Council discriminated against Christians.  If this is so then how it that both the Jehovah Witnesses and the United Church both recently held major events in civic-owned properties?

I do not often tell people that I am an ordained Presbyterian minister. Sadly many will distrust me when I identify myself as being a follower of Jesus. / I do not blame them. Horrible things have been done in the name of Christ. Women have been burned to death, children and First Nations people abused.  Less than a century ago Jewish people, members of the communist party and gypsies were killed in Europe by those supported by the Christian church. This is only a partial list. I believe that most of this horror is a direct result of the Christian faith having been taken over by the Roman and subsequent empires. The once peaceful followers of Jesus have been used to support hatred as well as state and now corporate abuses of power.

I want to be clear: What I have to say here is on my own behalf. I do not speak for any church or group.

When I first moved back to Nanaimo 20 years ago there were frequent letters in local papers denouncing homosexual persons, written by those who quoted the Christian Bible as grounds for their vitriol. When I finally wrote a letter and pointed out that Jesus had instructed his followers to not judge but instead to love, and that such letters did not seem to reflect these teachings, the letters suddenly stopped. I was glad. But I knew that such expressions of fear and hatred had not gone away.

13 years ago I chaired Nanaimo’s ministerial association. This group had members from both the evangelical and mainline churches. When 911 occurred the association became split, with some members trying to better understand the Muslim world and others appalled that Christians would even meet with Muslims.

The drama that has unfolded in our fair city, I believe, is a continuation of this divide, and the belief by some that they alone can speak for the Christian faith, that the Bible can be interpreted without needing to understand its historical, literary, political and other contexts and so be used to judge others.

I believe the original intention of the Council’s motion in question was to indicate that the City of Nanaimo is not in favour of giving voice to those who would discriminate against the homosexual LBTQ community. The irony? Evidently those who wish to use our city venue to teach their values themselves felt discriminated against. / Perhaps this is true. Who can say for sure?

Yet here is an even bigger irony: the purpose of the motion was ostensibly to prevent hatred toward some in our community, yet a number of those who have felt wronged have chosen to attack you as elected leaders in our community with utter disrespect and hatred! I hear that one complainer even wished death on one of you! If this is how they treat other human beings then perhaps they should not be allowed to use our facilities. We certainly have enough hatred in our world. But how can we stop them? Council alone cannot. The purpose of your motion failed.  It is up to us as a society who need to stand up to those who would bully and be verbally violent, regardless of their faith affiliation, philosophy, beliefs or convictions. Lovingly. And firmly. And with full knowledge that none of us is perfect.

A word about those who claim to have been wronged: If these are representatives of the Christian faith it is understandable why so many in our society distrust Christians. In other words, these who believe themselves to be wronged are only inviting our community to discriminate against them and push them to the margins.  No wonder there is so much distrust of such Christians!

As a follower of Jesus Christ I wish to offer you a sincere apology for how you have been treated. While I hardly think you are perfect, and obviously your motion has failed, you are human beings, just as worthy of respect as are those who wish to have this Leadercast event at the conference centre. I am sorry. May you one day be able to forgive us Christians for also not being perfect.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A response to Nanaimo's proposed Transportation Plan

The City of Nanaimo has just released its proposed Transportation Master Plan. This plan is designed to take us 25 years into the future. Very tragically the proposed Plan does little to take us away from the very expensive existing car-centric city we currently pay for.

In this 13 page document I outline how it could be vastly improved so as to save us money and improve the city's sustainability, leading us to better health, lower costs, and far more. It requires us to work together, adjust to significant (positive!) changes. It means making it possible to cycle safely, use buses that are frequent and fast, invest in infrastructure and in carsharing, and more.

To view the slides and text to my 5 minute presentation to City Council May 26, 2014, click here.

To see the Council meeting and the 10 presentations about the Transportation Plan, including mine (second one on the list) you can view it here. The presentations start at about 15 minutes.

The picture above could become our reality. All it takes is the vision and determination to make it so.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Plea to the Regional District of Nanaimo to support the Nanaimo Recycling Exchange

Pictured: Ian with a piece of Styrofoam; Photo credit: Terry Lee Wagar

RDN presentation March 25, 2014

25 years ago the NRE led all of us into becoming one of the most progressive communities in Canada. They inspired us to do more. As you know the letters, petitions and phone calls to you Directors indicate the importance of this community leader.
Unfortunately the previous staff report on the value of the NRE failed to capture its true value.
   1)   As is the practise in solid waste management, the weight of the materials the NRE diverts from the landfill was reported to be very small. (Show Styrofoam). This material represents up to 20% of the volume of landfills, yet weighs way less than 1% of the total material. If the NRE did not collect Styrofoam our landfill would fill up much more quickly. This is but one example of the visionary leadership of the NRE that we fail to appreciate.
   2)   The NRE is an inspiration to the majority of people living in the RDN. I dare say that Terry Fox is representative of the fight against cancer as the NRE is a representative of the fight against landfilling and the wasting of resources sent there. Sure, if the NRE disappeared we would still recycle in Nanaimo, but quite a bit less. The emotional and visionary loss of the NRE would take us backward and the standard the RDN set for itself would be gone.
   3)   The NRE employs people who would otherwise not be employed, and trains people from many community organisations, including the university. This is a value that needs to be especially picked up by the City of Nanaimo.
   4)   The Nanaimo Recycling Exchange is more than a recycling depot. Notice the word “exchange” in its title. I believe this indicates that it is also about recovering resources by reselling goods, putting them back into use rather than being discarded. Sure, there are other second-hand places in town, but note that if they do not accept items they are land-filled, not recycled as they are at the NRE. No other depot in town provides these complementary one-stop services: source separated recyclables, yard waste, and reselling. The NRE is not replaceable.
Cost: If the RDN were to borrow the needed capital, costing us up to $600,000/year, why not take this money from the MMBC income of $1 million/year? That still leaves $400,000 or more a year for five years, then $1 million a year after that! After all, the MMBC money is intended to make us more sustainable.
If we simply borrow the required funds the tax increase would be 1.9%, or about $2 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Most homes would pay an increase of about $4-5 per year –for only five years.
What if this temporary $4 charge were added as a separate line item on our tax bills, clearly showing that it’s going to something so many of us value?
If the NRE were to move to this new site and be able to expand its programs (which the move would allow) then it would once again be a leader. It would become the region’s Resource Recovery Centre. It would take us to Zero Waste without using an incinerator, which the staff have been directed to consider and have begun to talk about in our community. Do you want us to have a garbage incinerator??  We need the NRE to once again lead us into a sustainable future, one that provides far more jobs, economic opportunities, training, and more. I implore you: Give them the tools to inspire us, to take us to authentic zero waste!