Monday, September 12, 2016

How to improve on Nanaimo's Core Services Review

Core Review questions and comments
September 12, 2016

While I applaud this Core Services Review I believe that its greatest weakness is that it sometimes fails to address the causes of issues (and hence expenses) and then only addresses how to treat the symptoms. This is a cultural norm in our part of the world, and costs us tremendously –in every way. I wish to especially focus on the area of waste management and transportation (which are related).

Waste policies (pg 77)
            The options offered are far too limiting and do not meet our goals of continuing to improve our performance in this area. Indeed, the solutions may encourage us to go in the opposite direction! The following are just two options that most other municipalities are not embracing, ones that would again place Nanaimo at the leader in both waste reduction and boosted related employment:
Greatly reduce the weight of the garbage cans being lifted (and injuring our employees)
·         Charge according to the size of the garbage container –this step alone greatly increases the rate of recycling and composting
·         Make the containers clear so as to show the contents of the trash (revealing wet compostables, bricks/rocks, etc.)
·         Removes the need for automated vehicles
·         Reduces the cost of delivery
Provide or subsidise household compost systems that safely compost bones and meat
·         This alone greatly reduces the cost of picking up compostables
·         This step provides superior soil for backyard gardens while reducing GHG emissions (if used properly) beyond what the existing facilities offer
·         Greatly reduces tipping fees
·         Reduces injury to city employees
·         Removes the need for automated vehicles
·         Reduces the cost of delivery
The staff are largely trained by those associated with waste management companies that benefit from cities utilising less than best practises. E.G. Automated trucks suffer from even more mechanical failures than does our existing fleet. Best to hire a consultant who is an experienced waste reduction (not management) company for the best practises outcomes. Buddy Boyd of Gibson’s Waste Recovery Centre is the only such individual in our province.
Vehicle Fleet Costs and Policies (Pg’s ~80-84)
            Many other cities are finding considerable fleet cost reductions by partnering with the local non-profit carshare coop. Why? Because:
1.      The vehicles are used both day and evenings, spreading out the capital costs to more users.
2.      The co-op offers an itemised accounting of what vehicles are used for, and exactly for how long.
3.      There is more accountability and less unauthorised use for personal purposes
4.      It increases the use of public transportation and cycling/walking
5.      Maintenance issues are handled better (other carshare coop vehicles can be used when some are removed for maintenance purposes or after an accident).
6.      Coordination is very simple, resulting in far fewer duplications and need for rental vehicles
7.      Offers the lowest cost service per vehicle to the City
8.      New vehicles can be purchased to fit the unique needs of the City, including hybrid and all electric
Transportation –general
1.      The plan seems to offer nothing in terms of how to help the city reduce future costs from adding new subdivisions on its outskirt. While DCC charges help in the short-term the City is left holding the bag in terms of maintaining roads, sewers, water, transit services and emergency services & their attendant facilities.
Solution: charge DCC’s according to the distance from the core of the city. This costs the City nothing to implement and improves sustainability by increasing the population density. This also reduces the need for the single occupancy motor vehicle, lowering GHG emissions, accidents, improving health outcomes, attracting young adults, etc.
2.      The City is very limited in terms of how to save the taxpayer money except in this one area: transportation. By greatly increasing the budget for dedicated bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure (the most cost-effective way to spend the predicted surplus) the number of accidents is reduced, the health of the population is improved, the number of young adults willing to live in Nanaimo increases, and the cost to live in this city for those willing to utilise sustainable transportation. If the City really wishes to reduce the burden of expenses for its people why not make this the #1 area to invest saved funds??
3.      By taking this step the City will reduce the overall social cost of living here (which is borne in part by the City) and attract more young adults to the City (currently a major deterrent).
4.      By ending the subsidy to the E&N railway, because we do not live in a bubble we will encourage more vehicle traffic in the future, costing us individually far more while placing an additional burden on the city. This takes us in the opposite direction to a sustainable and affordable future. Is this what the City really wishes?
5.      By embracing sustainable transportation the City reduces the cost of building and maintaining its road infrastructure. Isn’t this a laudable goal?
Reducing access to health-improving activity centres (such as the Beban Pool) will reduce the health of more individuals, increase costs for the medical system and for those who are employed or are assisting their families with children. This flies in the face of the need to reduce the social costs of living in Nanaimo.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How to Create Good Jobs and a Better Economy

Until later in March of this year (2016) the province is looking for feedback on their plans to reduce Greenhouse Gases (GHG). Of course they can't accomplish this and proceed with their uneconomical and polluting Liquefied Natural Gas plans. But they have other ideas that look promising. Check them out at

You can also leave your comments by following the link provided. Even if you offer only a couple of ideas to them this will accomplish two things: They will know we care about jobs and the environment. They may also learn something new, or realise there is more support for one idea than they had imagined!

For the record here's what I submitted. If you like any of them feel free to plagiarise. Steal away!

1. Shift the priority away from the uneconomical (and GHG emitting) LNG industry to instead support BC's potential in wave, wind, solar and geothermal power production. Encourage smaller-scale power production closer to the major population centres by paying $0.12 cents/kWh. Export our clean power to other jurisdictions so that they can reduce their GHG emissions.

2. Increase penalties to municipalities that allow for urban growth, and incentivize municipalities that in-build (increase their population densities).

3. Work with municipalities to move away from car-centric transportation infrastructure and toward sustainable means such as cycling, walking, public transit and a reduction in the need for travel (better design).

4. Offer incentives to municipalities that investigate and create ground-source district heating systems and clean energy production.

5. Push municipalities to use the funds provided to them by BC Hydro to invest in sustainable infrastructure such as cycling and walking paths and transit.

 6. Accelerate the carbon tax rate increases and give this extra revenue to municipalities, non-profits, hospitals, public schools/colleges/universities and other civic institutions for sustainable infrastructure projects and costs (such as cycling, walking, transit, building energy efficiencies, renewable energy, district heating systems, etc.).

7. Cancel the Site C dam (it will emit tonnes of methane carbon for a long time) and replace this project by utilising the already built Columbia River dam (which has already emitted its methane gas), saving us a lot of money.

8. Ban the export of U.S. thermal coal from BC ports (just because it won't be burnt in B.C. doesn't absolve us of responsibility for the resulting CO2 emissions!)

9. Support non-profit carshare co-ops by reducing their insurance rates (every carshare co-op car on the road removes several other vehicles, improves transit usage, reduces health care costs, etc.)

10. Ban garbage incinerators and implement a robust system of source waste-separation recycling/reusing.

11. Ban the export of our waste out of province to reduce the GHG transportation-related emissions and encourage the waste being re-manufactured closer to its source whenever possible. This reduces the GHG emissions from mining and logging because materials are re-used and re-purposed rather than landfilled or burned. This reduces GHG emissions in three ways and leaves a healthier province for future generations.

12. Increase funding to lower-income households building energy retrofits and advertise the program. Use the carbon tax revenues to pay for the program.

13. Work with the municipalities and BC Transit to create a robust inter-modal system of public transportation, including the use of foot-ferries, thus reducing the need for car travel.

14. Phase out the Departure Bay ferry terminal. Move the Gabriola Island car ferry to Duke Point and replace the existing ferry with a faster passenger and bicycle ferry from downtown Nanaimo. Support foot ferries from downtown Nanaimo's transportation hub to downtown Vancouver and from downtown Victoria to downtown Vancouver.

15. Re-engage the LiveSmart BC program and increase the rate allowed to be paid to the energy advisors. Ensure a multi-year funding commitment so as to stabilise the energy-efficiency sector.
Now is the time to make these and many other changes!