Bill Manners

Community Activist

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Nanaimo Council to revisit current AAP legal options.

The Alternative Approval Process had flaws pointed out last Friday by a concerned citizen, lawyer Sandy Bartlett.

Council has sought their lawyers opinion and on Monday we shall find out where we go from here.

The current AAP is the second attempt after the first was found to be flawed by the same lawyer.

A strong team forming an opposition to the AAP has been out collecting forms of residents Opposing the AAP.
Monday February 12, 2024, City Council will have a special meeting at 4pm to discuss NEXT STEPS related to the Nanaimo Operations Centre. 

I hope they declare a referendum is in order and direct staff to begin the official stage of a referendum as soon as possible.

If there are no changes to the plans to borrow the $48,500.000.00 then I expect there will be a STRONG NO VOTE committee set up.

The nice thing is that the rules change positively for a Referendum vs almost no rules for an AAP.  Will let you know the differences if a Referendum is called for.


I have said this before and at the expense of repeating myself, here goes.
I firmly believe that the City has an AAP guide they follow and have used for quite a few years. Sadly that guide created by a different CAO and Legislative Office in our city has many things wrong with it. But because the process has continued being done wrong, it took a man with a law degree to find the wronging done for years. Thanks Sandy.

We need our Current City Manager to take to task the job of fixing the errors of past and create an AAP process that is fair. I suggest a 5% or 1 less than the number of votes the lowest Councillor got to be elected (currently 5,650) instead of the almost impossible 10% we now require. A new look, but in the meantime, any project over $25 million goes to referendum.

We do need the current City Yard to have updates and repairs. I hope we can delete the need to place a trail on the opposite side of Labieux and move the storm drain work to the public works reserve fund (or whichever fund it can be found). The trail at Beban could be moved or a grant could be found over the next couple years to remove that amount from the overall amount needed. The fire training facility can and should be upgraded through the fire budget or a grant. None of the THREE mentioned are a NEED, but a WANT. IMHO

Build a new garage independent of other projects and watch the price come down.

Support Our Cause: OPPOSE the AAP!


The City of Nanaimo is currently using the Alternative Approval Process (AAP) to make important decisions without a full referendum. We believe this process lacks transparency and doesn’t give citizens a fair say.
  • Legal Battle: We’re fighting to ensure that major decisions are made through a proper democratic process. Your donation will help cover legal, signs and brochure costs as we challenge the AAP.
  • Community Voice: By donating, you’re supporting the voice of Nanaimo residents who want a more inclusive and accountable decision-making process.
  1. Donate: Every dollar counts! Your contribution will directly support our cause.
  2. Spread the Word: Share this sign and our message with your friends, family, and neighbors. Let’s build a stronger community together!
  3. Attend Meetings: Stay informed by attending City Council meetings and AAP-related discussions.
For more information about the AAP and our campaign, visit:

(CON=City of Nanaimo)

Remember, your donation matters! Let’s stand up for transparency and accountability.

How to Oppose the AAP:
• Print off the Opposition Form from OR pick it up at Bartlett and Company Law Office at 225 Vancouver Ave, Nanaimo, BC V9R 6S3, (250) 741-0007.
• Return the form by hand or by mail to the Legislative Office in City Hall by the deadline of February 20, 2024, at 4:30 pm;
• Return the form to Bartlett and Company by the deadline of February 20, 2024, at NOON; they will count, scan and deliver your form to the City before the deadline.


Nanaimo Operations Centre Overview


The potential NOC Project consists of:
  • redevelopment of the Public Works Yard located at 2020 Labieux Road, 
  • upgrades to the adjacent Fire Training Tower operations, 
  • relocation of some Parks Operations, 
  • renovation of the Parks Prideaux Yard located at 89 Prideaux Street, and 
  • freeing up Nanaimo Annex site at 1151 Nanaimo Lakes Road for other uses.

City operations are currently provided at the Public Works Yard on Labieux Road, the Parks Operations Yard on Prideaux Street and the Nanaimo Lakes Road Parks satellite yard.

The original Public Works buildings were constructed in the 1960’s and then evolved as the City population grew from less than 45,000 in 1980 to over 100,000 in 2021. Much of the additional space was added using modular temporary facilities, not intended for permanent use.  The original buildings and additions have exceeded their useful life and are costing a considerable amount to sustain them.

     Nanaimo Operations Centre 2021 ORIGINAL PLAN before splitting it up

History of AAPs in British Columbia

History of AAPs in British Columbia

The authority for local governments to choose how to obtain elector approval in order to borrow for capital projects and to provide new services is not new. Municipalities have been required to hold a vote to obtain elector approval for loan authorization bylaws since 1873.

In 1962, the “counter-petition process” was introduced so municipalities could test the waters with their citizens in an effort to streamline and reduce the cost associated with the borrowing process. When 10% or more of eligible electors “voted” against the borrowing bylaw, municipalities had to then hold a vote in order to proceed with the bylaw. If fewer than 10% of the electors were against the bylaw, municipalities could adopt the bylaw and proceed with the matter without holding a vote.

The counter-petition threshold was lowered from 10% to 5% in 1968.

In 2003, the counter-petition process was replaced by the AAP under the Community Charter and the threshold was returned to 10%.

The counterpetition terminology was also changed to alternative approval process to signify electors' desire for increased public engagement for those matters considered "significant" to the community.

The AAP did not change the principles of transparency, neutrality, engagement and stewardship of the public trust that underpinned the counter-petition process. Over the years the authority for how local governments could use AAPs has expanded; however, the underlying principles have remained in place.

I strongly am in favour of a return to 5% threshold.

Previous AAP's in NANAIMO BC

2023 502 Howard Avenue Park Dedication Removal

2018 Fire Station #1

2016 Beaufort Park 

2015 Linley Valley Cottle Lake Park

2013 Comox Park Exchange

2012 Centennial Museum Building (Piper Park) Military Museum 

2012 Centennial Museum Building (Piper Park) Nanaimo Museum 

2011 Emergency Water Connection

2011 Water Treatment Plant

2010 Beban Park Pitch & Putt

2008 Municipal Boundary Extension

Is the 10% voter requirment fair?

Half of all councillors in the 2022 City Election, each got less than 10% of the number of voters required for an Alternative Approval Process. We need to go back to the 5% required.


Paul Manly10,366
Sheryl Armstrong10,260
Ben Geselbracht8,383
Ian Thorpe8,040

Opposing number needed for AAP failure is 7890

Erin Hemmens7,497
Janice Perrino7,131
Tyler Brown6,805
Hilary Eastmure5,650


LEEDS PROGRAM - What is it?

In discussions regarding Public Buildings, we often hear of the LEED certification system which consists of 4 levels:

Certified (40 – 49 points)
Silver (50 – 59 points)
Gold (60 – 79 points)
Platinum (80+ points).

In order to achieve them, a building must focus on reducing energy consumption and waste, managing resources efficiently and reducing operating costs.

The City of Nanaimo builds public buildings to Gold Standards.

If you think of certification, most times & especially in this case, money has to be paid to a team who come out and award points and the certification it was built to. The City of Nanaimo does not pay to be certified, but claim their buildings fit the 60+points. A complex program.
The City of Nanaimo builds public buildings to Gold Standards.

If you think of certification, most times & especially in this case, money has to be paid to a team who come out and award points and the certification it was built to. The City of Nanaimo does not pay to be certified, but claim their buildings fit the 60+points. A complex program.
The photo gives an idea - this is for existing buidlings being upgrade to various Leeds standards.

Long Term Borrowing

Mr. Manners;
The City, like most BC municipalities, borrows through the Municipal Finance Authority of BC (MFA).
The MFA provides long-term, short-term, and equipment financing, investment management, and other financial services to communities and public institutions in BC. The MFA pools the borrowing and investment needs of BC communities through a collective structure and is able to provide a range of low cost and flexible financial services to their clients equally, regardless of the size of the community. The MFA is independent from the Province of British Columbia and operates under the governance of a Board of Members appointed from the various Regional Districts within the province.
Per the MFA’s website (, their Long-Term Borrowing is as follows:

Long-Term Borrowing

Twice a year, following the Annual General Meeting in March and the Semi-Annual Meeting in September, the MFA will fund client loan requests which have undergone all appropriate approval processes. Deadlines for regional districts to submit Security Issuing bylaws to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for a Certificate of Approval are typically six weeks before these meetings.
Once requests are approved, clients can generally expect funding in April for the Spring Issue October for the Fall Issue. The exact timing of funding may vary as we monitor the capital markets and manage refinancing requirements. If you require funds between long-term issues, please see our Short-Term Borrowing page.
Loan proceeds are equivalent to 99% of the gross request, and 1% is withheld by the MFA, as security against loan default. The 1% is held in trust by the MFA in its Debt Reserve Fund and will be refunded, with interest, at loan expiry.

New issues are often funded by issuing a 10-year bond, locking in a fixed interest rate for ten years. As clients may borrow for up to thirty years, loans longer than ten years are typically refinanced every five years, following the initial ten years.
Please note that while new issues are generally for a 10-year term, the MFA will evaluate how best to finance each Issue based on market conditions, the requests received, and with our overall portfolio in mind, as we consider future refinancing risk.
Interest payments are required semi-annually and begin six months after proceeds are received. The MFA passes these payments on to the bondholders. Interest costs are based on the original amount borrowed throughout the life of the loan.
Principal repayments occur annually, beginning one year after funds are received. The MFA deposits principal payments in a sinking fund where they earn interest until it is time to repay the bondholders.
The earnings that the MFA anticipates it will realize on principal repayments is called the actuarial. Associated with each principal payment (beginning in year two) is an actuarial adjustment which is a non-cash reduction of your loan balance based on expected sinking fund earnings.
The outstanding obligation to the MFA is the gross loan request, less the sum of the accumulated principal payments and the actuarial adjustments to date – or in other words, the reducing balance on the amortization schedule as of the most current date.
For details of specific Issues, please see the Status of Loans, and to estimate borrowing costs for new loans, please see the Long Term Debt Amortization Schedules.
Early Loan Repayments:
Members wishing to repay their loan early may only do so in full at any of the stated refinancing dates for an Issue (indicated in the Status of Loans). If you have requested a unique financing method, you may not be able to pay out early. Should you have any questions, please email Please note that partial pay downs are not permitted.
Members wishing to payout must notify the MFA before the applicable deadline date (posted in the Status of Loans and the Message section of the Client Portal). Notice should be a signed request on letterhead, advising the MFA that you intend to payout your loan(s), and must include the following:
  • Amount of early payout - the balance owing is the amount outstanding according to the amortization schedule at the refinancing date (after payment of the regularly scheduled principal and interest amounts)
  • Method of payment – EFT pull by MFA
  • Date of payment – must be refinancing date
  • LA Bylaw # -
  • Issue # -
Clients must also complete the One Off Electronic Fund Transfer Form to the MFA before the applicable refinancing date. The form can be found in the Client Portal. If you need assistance with this process, please email
Surplus Payments:
If the MFA earns more than the estimated actuarial associated with a loan, the borrower will be paid any excess shortly after paying out the loan in full.
Based on the MFA rules around long-term borrowing, the NOC estimated costing is as follows:
Term – 20 Years
Interest – 4.78% (This will change if/when the City goes to do the actual borrowing)
Amount: $48.5M
· 2024 - $3.4M
· 2025 - $16.1M
· 2026 - $28.0M
· 2027 - $1.0M

I hope this answers your question sufficiently.

Laura Mercer (she/her), CPA, CGA
GM, Corporate Services
455 Wallace Street, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5J6

Short-term borrowing

Short-term borrowing (five years or less) is different than the long-term borrowing that the City has done in the past.

These are some factors to be aware of (assuming borrowing is through the Municipal Finance Authority):
• No elector or minister approval is required. This is permitted under Section 175 of the Community Charter.
• The interest rate is variable, not fixed; therefore, there is a risk that the rate will increase over the five-year period.
• Interest is calculated daily and paid monthly.
 Interest is simple interest, not compounded.
• The debt cannot be converted to long-term debt or extended beyond the five years.
• The principal payments can be made at any time (most make annual payments).
• The principal can be paid back in full at any time without penalty.
• The debt does count against calculations of the City's borrowing limit.
• The City loan will be secured with a promissory note.
• The MFA will require a Council resolution that must include a repayment schedule (ie. commit to repaying the principal).

If Council agrees to do short-term borrowing, then Staff will bring back a report with an appropriate resolution.
I am opposed to AAP's and would have loved to see a referendum. Sadly that was not asked for, nor was a motion made in that direction. Council decided to go for an AAP starting in January. If and when that fails, then it could go to referendum and if that fails, the City has stated they would go to short-term borrowing which is why this information is available.

2024-2028 Provisional Financial Plan (2024 Budget increases). . . .. . Operations Centre not included in this information.

At their meeting on Dec. 18, 2023, Nanaimo City Council passed three readings of the City's 2024-2028 Provisional Financial Plan. The plan is based on the road map Council established through their strategic framework and reflects a eight per cent tax increase including a one per cent increase for the General Asset Management Reserve for 2024.

The 2024 provisional budget includes the following:
  • Property tax increase of eight per cent, equivalent to $213 for a household with an assessed value of $808,873.
  • Water user fee increase of six per cent, equivalent to $28
  • Sewer user fee increase of four per cent, equivalent to $6
  • Solid waste user fee increase of seven per cent, equivalent to $7
This equals to an annual increase of $254 or roughly $21 per month in taxes and fees for a typical household. (what is typical?)
Council will have opportunities to review and amend the Financial Plan in April 2024 before adopting the 2024 Property Tax Rates Bylaw.

The projected tax increase is on the municipal share only. The City also collects taxes on behalf of other agencies, such as School board, Nanaimo Regional Hospital, Vancouver Island Regional Library and the Nanaimo Regional District. These bodies set their own budgets.

Nanaimo Original Waterfront vs TODAY *in red*

Contact Me

Calendar of Events

January 18, 2024

Forms to oppose AAP available at City Hall or

TODAY February 08, 2024

February 20, 2024 4:30pm

Deadline for completed AAP forms to be at City Hall, Legislative Services

Unique Visits - as of Feb 11, 2024