City of Nanaimo admits it erred in borrowing process for Operations Centre

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The City of Nanaimo says it made an error in its bid to borrow $48.5 million to start a new operations centre.

It means the City of Nanaimo will have to ask taxpayers again if they approve.

When Nanaimo resident and lawyer Sandy Bartlett took a closer look at the city’s recent Alternative Approval Process he was surprised to see a small but significant error.

It turns out the city didn’t advertise the process, as required, seven full days before the response time for taxpayers began.

“They gave their 37 days response time but gave no notice prior to that so effectively they didn’t comply with the legislation,” said Bartlett.

Bartlett delivered a package to the city, outlining the error and on Thursday the city publicly admitted he was right.

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It means the city will have to seek approval for the $48.5 million first phase of the operations centre once again. City staff are recommending a second alternate approval process to be held in January.

The first phase includes a new fleet maintenance facility, truck wash facilities and utility servicing for future phases of the operations centre.

“I sincerely hope the good citizens of Nanaimo will recognize the necessity of the project and it will pass again,” said Leonard Krog, Nanaimo’s mayor.

The process requires 10 per cent of city taxpayers to sign forms saying they don’t support the project in order for it ‘not’ to move forward.

Bartlett says many taxpayers aren’t aware of it so the process is flawed. He argues the city should instead use a referendum, even though it costs $300,000.

“A much more transparent result and one that will be accepted by the people of Nanaimo,” said Bartlett.

Bartlett say now is not the time for more borrowing in light of inflation and a potential recession.

“I own a house in Nanaimo and I don’t want my taxes to go up any more than the last two significant increases I’ve had to endure,” Bartlett said.

The city says the first phase at current interest rates would cost taxpayers about $9 per $100,000 of assessed value for each year of the 20-year-term, or about $76 for an average $800,000 home annually.

Krog says the current public works facility, built in the 1960s, no longer meets seismic or operational requirements and a new operations centre is not a nice-to-have but a much-needed.

“These are not efficient offices. This is not the way the public gets served and I would hope the public, those who were opposed just in principal will look at this again and realize it’s an important public project,” said Krog.

City council is scheduled to vote on whether to hold another AAP, go to referendum or stop the borrowing altogether at its next meeting on Monday.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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