Fred Pattje shook his head while watching the City of Nanaimo’s latest council meeting.

An argument over a hot-button issue on Monday night sparked controversial city manager Tracy Samra to shut off the live feed of the meeting.

“Should not have happened,” said Pattje, a longtime Nanaimo resident. “That’s frustrating, it makes me angry. That is an attempt at censorship of the worst kind.”

Fred Pattje served two terms on Nanaimo City Council and calls the state of things there now embarrassing.

“Our reputation is suffering greatly,” said Pattje. “Certainly everyone in this province I think has heard about the dysfunction in Nanaimo,” he said.

He is part of a grassroots group called Our Nanaimo that’s urging residents to get informed on what’s happening in their city council in advance of October’s municipal election. It’s a council that has already called for the resignation of its mayor, seen a councillor resign over slapping a cell phone out of the CEO’s hand, had 500 city workers boycott their Christmas luncheon and there’s evidence of continued unrest among city staff.

“There’s been a bit of an exodus of talented senior staff,” said Pattje. “To my count over 30.”

The latest is Brad McRae. The City’s Chief Operations Officer was let go this week.

The president of the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce says this could be costing the city millions of dollars in lost development.

“We know of projects that aren’t being proceeded with at this time,” said Kim Smythe.

One major developer has even told Smythe he won’t be back until after October’s election.

“The business community has spoken loudly and clearly,” said Smythe. “That we need to get our act together and start moving forward again.”

CEO Tracy Samra didn’t return CHEK News’ calls for comment on how she would help do that.

Skye Ryan