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Let's get back to the basics of good governance in Nanaimo


Communication is the cornerstone of human civilization. Without communication, there is no co-operation. And without co-operation, you can't have most of the things we take for granted in our modern lives. And without communication and co-operation, you certainly can't build and run a city like Nanaimo.

Nanaimo City Hall and the council that will be elected on October 20 will need to get back to the basics of communication and co-operation.

Quite often when a resident sends a council member an email, the only response they might get back is an auto-reply stating that the council member is unavailable, if that member is away. And after the councillor returns, there is still no response. In that case, there is no communication between the resident and the council member. It leads to a lot of frustration on behalf of the residents.

I want to be a councillor who responds and engages in communication with those who take the time to contact me. It doesn't matter if it's only a couple of words, a paragraph, or a detailed message.

Recently I attended a candidate training session at the Regional District of Nanaimo. The most common word used at that session, after the word, "I," was "LISTEN."

Back when I was in Toastmasters International, one of their themes was, "Better Listening - Better Thinking - Better Speaking."

As a councillor, I pledge to LISTEN to residents, city staff, experts, and other council members. I will THINK about the message they are trying to convey. And then I will SPEAK (make my response as meaningful and clear as possible).

My Vision for Nanaimo

A top priority for me is for Nanaimo to get back to the basics of good governance.  My prime goal is to work with the new mayor and council to rebuild a solid working relationship between the City Council and City Staff.  We also need to build up trust between the City Council and the residents of Nanaimo.  There are several key areas that I especially want to work on:

City Hall
In the last few years, we have lost a lot of talented, knowledgeable and skilled employees at City Hall.  I, Bill Manners, want to create a more positive atmosphere of communication and co-operation between all staff and council.  Using the Core Services Review as a springboard to provide the best city services to residents while remaining fiscally responsible are among changes I would like to see made.

I want to improve communication between the Nanaimo City Council and residents.  I assure residents that I will actively listen to their concerns and will do my best to respond appropriately.  I wish to develop a more transparent process for City Council that is focused on making sure that residents understand the reasons why decisions have been made.  Those decisions and the criteria behind them should be held in open meetings and not only discussed during in-camera sessions. As a member of the Community Engagement Task Force, I am quite aware that some existing methods of communication do not work as well as they used to.  We need to take a look ahead and use new technologies and methods of engaging with the public.

Economic Development
There has been a distinct lack of focus on attracting new economic opportunities to Nanaimo.  Our local job market is stagnant with a lack of permanent full-time jobs paying a living wage.  Many in Nanaimo are working two or more part-time jobs to keep afloat.  Our new council must work to make Nanaimo an attractive place for new businesses. I am aware of how new technology and artificial intelligence is changing how we work and do business while eliminating many skilled and unskilled jobs.  I wish to partner with the Federal and Provincial governments plus VIU to ensure that local workers receive training, so they can continue to participate in our rapidly changing economy.

Additionally I, Bill Manners, would love to work with the new mayor, fellow councillors and city staff to improve the livability of Nanaimo to ensure that it remains a great place for residents to live, work, travel and play.

Looking towards a greener future as our population approaches 100,000, we need to increase the density of our neighbourhoods, while also improving the walkability, and cycling infrastructure throughout Nanaimo.  It's time to take another look at zoning, creating neighbourhood nodes, and improving accessibility for disabled residents.

Our public transportation infrastructure frankly has a lot of room for improvement.  Our new council needs to work closely with the Regional District of Nanaimo to make it easier for residents to get to work, school, shopping, entertainment, and to visit our wonderful parks and public spaces.  With a personal background of providing transportation for over 46 years to Nanaimo residents, I am quite aware of how transit could be to improved and have workable ideas to share with Nanaimo Regional Transit.

Public Spaces
We have some great public spaces in Nanaimo, that are well-utilized, but under-serviced.  We also have public spaces that are not well used at all, and have a lot of untapped potential.  The unification of the waterfront walkway, as well as the development of 1 Port Drive, are opportunities to improve the quality of life for Nanaimo residents.  Small improvements to our walkway can be done to enhance the livability and enjoyment of residents as well as our many visitors to Nanaimo.

Nanaimo needs to be a tourist destination, not a place that tourists pass through to go to other destinations.  Working with other council members, staff, and private investors, we can create reasons for tourists to remain in Nanaimo and spend their tourism dollars here.

Q and A with VIU Students

1) What about your personal or professional background has prepared you for public office?

A; I have attended almost all of Nanaimo City Council and Committee of whole meetings since late 2011.

I am one of the spokespersons for the City of Nanaimo Community Engagement Task Force.  I am a director of Nanaimo Amateur Radio Association and a former interviewer for the Seniors Advocate of British Columbia. 

I have worked extensively with City Staff on many projects including the NOVOTE2017 Society of which I am one of the founders and the group that was built together with the residents of Nanaimo after seeing what information was given to them, voted 80.4% NO.  A huge success.  

I was also one of the originators of Nanaimo & District Independent Living Resource Centre, which has been around our City since 1990.

Previously, I have been a regional director for a group of 54 stores in British Columbia working on company budgets and the reorganization as well as developing and enforcing rules and regulations.


2) What would you say are your core values as they relate to being on city council?

A: I was raised to be respectful of everyone I meet.  Sometimes it has been hard, but my grandmother insisted that I keep my Manners. I have old-fashioned values that keep me in step with laws and bylaws created not just in my community, but the provincial and federal laws as well.

As a long-standing Nanaimo resident, I work well with City Staff and the Management there.  I have tried to keep working with all past and current council members regardless of their decisions.

I believe in Better Listening, Better Thinking and Better Speaking, the cornerstone of Toastmasters International.  The more we listen and then think of what residents are saying, and then council members should feel free to speak, instead of just giving their own opinion.


3) What would you see as the key issues in Nanaimo?

A: Reintroduction of the Economic Development Office in our city manned by more than one person.  We need an office that is dedicated to expanding the types of businesses we have in our town.  Nanaimo needs to bring people with jobs that pay more than what the average worker makes in our city today.  I believe that better-paying jobs are what we should be created to make it possible for the average worker to be able to afford a house here, rather than elsewhere.

The Community Engagement Task Force was set to design a way to set up better communication between the residents of Nanaimo and the Council Members as well as staff.  They have one more meeting scheduled for later this year, after the election.  I would love for a new committee to be struck according to the laws of our city, by our Mayor set on creating options without hosting meetings but just concentrating on the objective, which is my opinion is:  “How can Nanaimo residents engage with City Council so we can develop a city that is more suited for residents?”

Nanaimo also needs better Transit.  A system change is in order.  I have 48 years’ experience in Transportation around our city. I want our city to be livable and inviting to residents and visitors to see our city as a place that allows people to use Transit, Cycling or walking to get around our city or even its neighbourhoods.  I have a concept that I hope could see some acceptance after I get elected to Nanaimo Council.  I will dedicate my time to seeing a change regarding the transportation in and around Nanaimo.


4) What would be your approach to dealing with those issues?

A: My approach is to discuss ways we can get back to the basics of governing our city, and to find a way to redevelop relationships with many outside agencies which include but are not limited to BC Ferries, Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo Regional General Hospital, Port of Nanaimo, School District 68, Nanaimo Airport (YCD), and our neighbouring communities which include Lantzville, Snawnawas, Snuneymuxw and Ladysmith.

The newly elected Nanaimo City Council and members of the Regional District of Nanaimo must work together to rebuild our Nanaimo Tourism dedicated to our Region rather than the current providers, Vancouver Island Tourism.  It is vital that local business work together to invite visitors and residents to explore our city from North to South and East to West just as our transit service must.

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Bill Manners