Poll. So? Should we still do it? Airport expansion.

New poll!

Should the ACRD borrow up to $6 million now that no grants have come?

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The good news is the new lights and GPS routes are already happening. (new lights are part of the borrowing, see bottom of post).  The bad news is the ACRD has so far been unsuccessful trying to get grants to cover some of the cost for the upgrades and runway lengthening at Alberni Valley Regional Airport.

Approval has already been granted through the Alternate Approval Process which means not enough people signed their disapproval for it to go to referendum.

But now that no grants came through, and even though there is still an outside chance for some grants maybe, the ACRD board including the two City reps (Mayor Ruttan and Councillor Mcleman) are taking a step back and seeing if they should still go through with it.

So? Should they? Vote in the Poll on the right. Full information about the expansion is here. 

Here is a screenshot of the costs FAQ based on how much has to be borrowed.

image

Send your comments to the ACRD. mailbox@acrd.bc.ca

More info on the upgrades provided by the CAO of the ACRD.

The cost estimates of the three components of the project are as follows:

  1. The Runway Extension is estimated to cost $5,958,820.
  2. Installation of navigational aids (medium intensity lighting) is estimated to be $1,468,500

The above costs total approximately $7.43 million and were the basis of the grant application to the Strategic Priorities Fund.

  1. Establishing an Obstacle Limitation Surface (OLS) that would be acceptable to the design of a public GPS approach is estimated to cost $350,000.  This involves managing the OLS which are the trees and land that protrude into the defined flying paths as well as surveying and registering the approaches with Nav Canada. Money is already committed to this project and within the current budget.   A portion of the costs ($180,000) were recovered from the Community Forest Legacy). These OLS costs are not reflected in the $7.43M figure.

 

 

The Mark of a Well Respected Man

This evening (Saturday Jan 30) I had the honour of attending Ken Watson’s celebration of his years of service as City Manager and Engineer for the City of Port Alberni.

Even though I grew up in Port Alberni, I am of course a bit of an outsider when it comes to the City workplace having been around for barely a year and also being a (near)millenial in a place where baby boomers still dominate but are now retiring at a rapid pace.  However, after 15 years in my own workplace at VIU and watching my own parents retire, I understand the bonds that are made over long periods when the same people work and really live most of their lives together.

In less than a year I have now been to two celebrations for employees for the City, Scott Kenny and now Ken Watson.  In both cases the outpouring of respect and heartfelt thanks for their years of service has been something to behold.

The dignitaries and community leaders that came out for Mr. Watson, the serious and silly and good hearted speeches, the emotions and impassioned statements and Mr. Watson’s own words all confirm that he is a man who has earned the respect of a whole community over the years.

Personally, I credit Mr. Watson for helping put me in the Council seat that I am in today.  Were he not always so willing to answer every overly detailed email from me, often in a matter of minutes after sending it, when I started to engage in city issues when I moved back to town then I probably would not have continued on, becoming more and more engaged.   He even seemed to like graphs and charts and spreadsheets like me… always the mark of great guys.

Now, as a rookie councillor, he always provided me solid and timely information and answered every question no matter how mundane or naïve.

Most of all though what I have witnessed is Mr. Watson’s great respect for and from those who he worked with at City Hall.  He is a true leader and I know he will be proud of his accomplishments.

I write this so that a few more citizens of Port Alberni may know the excellent people that work for their City and who have nothing but the best for the City and its citizens in their hearts.

Thank You Ken.  You literally helped shape the Port Alberni I grew up in and all its citizens are in your debt for your service.

Sincerely,

Chris

 

Why are my Taxes so High!? A City and Beaver Creek Comparison.

(I’ve updated the post with a correction on the VIRL library fees thanks to info from ACRD Director from Long Beach Tony Bennett)

People really love to complain about their taxes.  If they didn’t there wouldn’t be a meme about it (left).  And since the AVNews ran a story in December with the headline that the City was raising taxes by 7%, the questions and complaints have been pouring in.

Now, first things first, the City has not decided to raise taxes 7%.  In fact, it hasn’t decided anything.  The story was simply based off the first draft of the financial plan that City Staff have to create every year so that we know where we are starting from, what costs have risen over the year, what capital projects we committed to in the coming years, etc.  Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 11.30.02 AMThere are weeks of deliberations to go before a final plan is adopted.  I hope as many people as possible can either come to or watch online the public budget meetings that start next week.  You can see the full schedule and all info about the budget as it is created on the CPA website

The reason for this post though is because I wanted to share with you a specific email that I got from a resident.  His question I think encapsulates a lot of the discussion and tension in Port Alberni and in surrounding districts about the tax situation.  It also shows some of the misunderstanding and incomplete information people may have.  He’s given me permission to reproduce it here.

Here is what he said:

Hello Mr Alemany hope all is well and happy new year. Question, was chatting with friend who owns house off Kitsuksis, house worth 750k and he pays same amount of property tax as me whose house worth 220k. I get that he’s considered Beaver Creek but we pay water/garbage seperate from prop tax so why the Huge discrepancy? We all use Arena, Echo, their kids go to same schools, hospitals and drive on same roads. Only diff i can tell is some in city have sidewalks/street lights and in city we have fire dept. they have fire too but volunteer i understand. And like i said earlier garbage and water we have extra bills so that shouldnt factor into it. Am i missing something? The system here just dosnt seem fair especially since many of people on outskirts of town have way more money and nicer house then in town. Not all but on average. What do you think?

The text below is my response to him with some additions and I have added images and graphics so that it is better illustrated than just the email I sent him alone:

It’s a great question, and a very important one. It all comes down to knowing what services are actually subsidized or completely paid for by the provincial versus the city government.

It is easiest to say first what is covered by the province and we all pay the same: Hospitals and Schools [correction—>and Libraries] are the big ones,  on your tax form these rates are the same no matter if you are in the City or in Beaver Creek.

Here is my tax form for 2014 (I couldn’t find last years :)).  You can see the School, BC Assessment, Municipal Finance, and Regional Hospital rates.  These are all common whether you are in Port Alberni, Beaver Creek, Cherry Creek, etc.  By the way, my assessed value was $155,900 for this tax assessment.

TaxExampleProperty2014

Here is a Beaver Creek property tax notice also from 2014 for a total assessed value of $248,200.

PTx2014 copy 2

There are a few differences in Beaver Creek. First, there is a very small provincial “rural” tax rate (0.5600) that goes to the province for things like road work outside city limits.  There is also a small “Police Tax”…more on that in a second.  There is also a charge for the volunteer fire department and for the ACRD administration and a final one for water (which Beaver Creek buys in bulk from the City).  City residents have a similar, though smaller, ACRD charge on top of the “General Municipal” rate paid (9.00500) for all other services in the City and servicing the wider community.

By the way, the “Arena Parcel Tax” you see on my bill is common to all areas that originally agreed to pay for the new Multiplex.  It is not on the Beaver Creek bill possibly because that resident chose to pay the full amount at the time the Multiplex was built rather than have it added on to their tax bill until the Multiplex was paid off.  It does not go toward operation of the arena.

Let’s start with RCMP (image is from the Draft Financial plan in the January 11, 2016 agenda):

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 11.55.02 AM

RCMP is the most expense budget in the City, about $500 on the average City tax bill, even though it serves the whole Valley plus Bamfield. Beaver Creek residents pay a separate rate on their bill for police of $63 for the services of the RCMP. This is despite the fact that there are a few City employees that do the needed administrative work for the detachment in addition to the vast majority of the expense which is of course the RCMP officers themselves.

The RCMP cost is nearly twice as much  as the cost of all of the Administrative departments, with all their employees and managers and equipment of the City (Governance/Finance, Planning, EcDev, and Corporate Services) combined which only total around $3.5 Million or about $290 per average City tax bill for 5 divisions including the Heritage services.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 12.28.49 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 12.28.57 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 12.28.43 PM

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 12.51.40 PM
It’s worth noting that every single one of those departments in administration in the City are absolutely necessary in order to service the businesses, not-for-profits, organizations and service centres that all folks with “Port Alberni” on their home address probably use. All of gone through multiple rounds of downsizing and most continue to shrink as the City tries to cut costs.

Of those, only the Museum and Heritage services department could be considered a “luxury” compared to the administration necessities, however there is something to be said about preserving the arts, culture and history of the Alberni Valley which the Museum does so well and which the McLean Mill celebrates.  I am sure there would be readers who would say Heritage and Culture are necessities just as much as finance and bylaws.

You’ll also notice that in the ‘2016’ column at the bottom of each section under “% Increase over Prior Year” most have gone down, many significantly, while RCMP budgets continue to rise largely out of the control of the City and Provincial grants to the RCMP budget lines decline.

The next most expensive department in the City Department is Parks and Rec ($3.6 Million) which includes all the buildings like the Multiplex, the Pool, Echo Community Centre and the other major city buildings as well as the actual parks, fields and other amenities.  Beaver Creek residents pay no taxes towards these facilities.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 12.36.19 PM

All of these require upkeep and operating costs. User fees only cover a very small portion of the costs, even when you include fees from people who live outside the City and use those facilities. All the city parks and upkeep and Harbour Quay and all people in them are included here too.

The next most expensive department is really a tie, between the Port Alberni Fire Department and City Engineering and Public Works.  Both are in the $3 Million range so I’ll include them both here:

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 12.43.01 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 12.43.08 PM

PAFD  is of course a paid rather than volunteer department, though again Beaver Creek does benefit from them as PAFD and BCFD and Sproat Lake FD all have an automatic aid agreement so they attend each others major fires automatically which benefits the region because PAFD can often get there very quickly and it benefits PAFD because it boosts the number of people at a fire so there is more rotation if a fire is really bad.  It is interesting that Beaver Creek residents still pay roughly half ($122 on my assessed value)  the cost City residents pay for fire service even though BCFD is volunteer and PAFD is fully paid.  The PAFD is also in charge of medical first responder from Cathedral Grove to Sutton Pass.  You’ll see only modest increases in the PAFD budget mainly due to contractual wage increases and equipment maintenance.

As far as Engineering, Roads and City Works all roads in City Limits except Johnston/RiverRd/Highway 4 are taken care of and paid for by City taxpayers. Paving, upkeep, sidewalks, cleaning, signals, etc. Roads are horribly expensive. Repaving just one section of lower 3rd Avenue from Napier to Burde (375 metres) is budgeted at $250,000 which is around $20 for every City resident.  By contrast, the “rural provincial tax rate” levied by the provinces costs Beaver Creek residents only around $80 (again using my assessed value) to take care of all of the roads and other general engineering work needed in the rural areas.  That’d be only enough to do a few blocks of work a year in the City.

One Area that is often overlooked is the “External Services” which by its very name should indicate that these are areas that benefit more than only the City of Port Alberni.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 12.57.30 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 12.57.25 PM

The big expense here is Bus service.  Currently buses do not run outside City limits, so this is wholly paid for by the City with help from standard funding from the Province.  If Beaver Creek or Cherry Creek or other residents did want to have bus service they would need to advocate that their ACRD directors join with BC Transit and the City in funding the service.  In Nanaimo, for example, the BC Transit service is actually run through their Regional District so that it services Nanaimo, Parksville and smaller areas in between like Nanoose and Cedar.  However it does not service Coombs because that area did not agree to pay for the service.

The other big ticket on the external services is the Library Service.. but this is a cost that is the same whether you are in the City or Region.  As of 2016, ACRD residents will see this as a separate tax rate on their bills split from the ACRD “E” (according to their area) line.  This is a cost that is exclusive to the City even though obviously the Library is something that all citizens can and should access.  The City pays for the Library through its association with the Vancouver Island Regional Library service so we can sometimes see costs rise when other communities build new libraries even when services here do not change.

The last departments are Water, Sewer, and Garbage:

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.03.13 PM Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 1.03.06 PM

Water and Sewer are completely paid through user fees now so that is similar to Beaver Creek where you can pay for garbage pickup and you pay for water (which Beaver Creek now buys in bulk from the City) and your own septic services. That said, there are sometimes large projects that the city has to dip into its tax bank accounts in order to cover the cost of, say, a big road and sewer project or the new water treatment facility at China Creek that City taxpayers pay for that residents in outlying areas, even if they are paying for City water, are not paying for.

Long story short, there are a ton of things that Beaver Creek residents likely use or benefit from in the City of Port Alberni that they pay a fraction of the amount for in their taxes or fees, if they pay anything at all. So get your friend to buy you dinner. 😉

If the whole Valley was part of the City, tax rates would be much lower across the board because the average values of property would be higher and it would be spread out with more people, but the person in Beaver Creek would likely pay more tax than they do now, so good luck convincing them to join even if it is “fairer” for all especially for those on lowest incomes.

Hope that helps.

Chris

Council votes to prepare regulations for Marijuana Dispensaries. (Also, Web Video creeping Closer!)

Update: Councillor Sauvé has provided his perspective on the issue.

It is always a good sign when the public has filled the Council Chambers at City Hall 5 minutes before the regular council meeting starts.

IMG_1494The big topic of interest on the Nov 9 Agenda was Marijuana Dispensaries and what to do with the dispensary known as “WeeMedical“.  A picture of its store front is beside.  Below this post I’ve attached the report from The Peak this morning.  Here is the AVNews Article as of Nov 12.

There had been a ton of talk and concern about the dispensary since it opened a couple weeks ago.  In response to the interest, I conducted an informal and unscientific Facebook poll through my Facebook Page on Oct 26 that asked: “On Marijuana Dispensaries should Port Alberni: A) Discourage/Close as per Federal Criminal Code or B) Regulate, License. As Vancouver has done.” I got an unexpectedly large response. The results of the poll were A: 20 and B: 212. (more responses came after with generally the same ratio).

Getting back to the meeting, after 5 people (Council allowed 1 more than the normal 4 slots) spoke during the Public Input period, City Planner Scott Smith presented a report on the Agenda (click here to fly to the bottom of this post to see the report in full.)

Two motions were presented by Councillor McLeman, note that the below quote might not be the official motion that appears in the minutes of the meeting but it is what Councillor McLeman distributed to councillors during the meeting.

Whereas there is already one “dispensary” open on Third Ave and several others wish to open quickly and

Whereas the City Of Port Alberni has no regulations for such facilities and present zoning would likely allow in any area a pharmacy could go in and there are several locations being possibly eyed for one now.

Whereas other cities have been “caught napping” and are now trying to catch up to a problem

I move that the Council for the City of Port Alberni direct staff to come back by the next regular council meeting ( November 23 2015) with recommended zoning and operating conditions for “medical marijuana dispensing facilities” in Port Alberni.

_______

This first motion was passed after a great deal of good discussion on the issue both for and against.

Personally, I firmly believe that two of the three recommendations from the City Planner, letting the RCMP investigate and deal with the issue solely, or wait for other municipalities to come up with a solution, would, due to low enforcement levels, effectively allow the current dispensary to operate without any oversight and control and allow others to start at will.  While I completely agreed with Councillor Sauve and Mayor Ruttan that the sale of marijuana was illegal, I disagreed that we should leave it only to the RCMP because I believe we as a City would be left powerless.  Since we do have tools as a City to zone property, enact bylaws, and enforce bylaws, by creating special bylaws for marijuana dispensaries, we give ourselves the tools necessary to protect public safety and neighbours as much as we possibly can.

I also stated that, given anecdotal evidence I have seen and heard, I strongly believe there may be medicinal benefits to marijuana.  However, dispensaries as they stand now seem to really just be a way for people to access recreational marijuana.  That is my opinion but it  was something I wanted folks to be aware of.  Since I believe the ultimate desire and benefit of the Canadian public is to legalize marijuana completely, I don’t have a problem with this reality.  In fact, I would prefer if the ‘dispensaries’ lost the medicinal pretence as I believe that that actually harms their legitimacy.  In time, after marijuana is legalized, I am sure there will be extensive research carried out to determine scientifically and conclusively the medicinal benefits and side effects of cannabis and the many compounds it contains and hopefully those medicinal products are distributed through pharmacies just as other drugs are now while the recreational stuff is sold like cigarettes… but that is another topic! :)

I was also very pleased to see a letter from the neighbouring business at Flandangles.  It was a late addition to the Agenda so unfortunately you will not be able to see it until the minutes come to the next meeting on the 23rd, but it was generally very supportive of the dispensary next door and detailed their experience since the dispensary opened.  The final statement from the letter was:

“In closing, it appears that all of my fears were misplaced.”

Councillor Sauve and Ruttan spoke most strongly against the motion but I don’t want to attempt to paraphrase them as it would be unfair.  However, we did find out during the break that the video recordings of the recent meetings (since the new audio/video equipment was installed) will be posted online in the not-too-distant future.  There were some major issues last night apparently with the audio on Shaw Cable but the audio and video on a limited test run of the web stream was excellent so I am hopeful people will be able to view those, live as well as after the fact, soon.  Then all will be able to see how all of Council contributed.

Update… Councillor Sauvé has provided his point of view through Facebook and has allowed me to reproduce it here. Thank you Councillor Sauvé!

I feel I must respond to the following blog by this councillor as to what exactly was the motion to which I did not support last night at City council. The motion in part I’m fully in support with one BIG EXCEPTION. The motion last night gave city staff the direction to discuss regulations and zoning of illegal dispensaries at this time.

City representatives have been elected to not only represent of community but also the health and safety of those residents we represent. I agree we must be prepared as to zoning and regulation locations of these dispensaries BUT not when it is still illegal in this country to sell or distribute this drug. Such motion should be in place when the Federal Government puts into place new laws or regulations which will permit distribution of this product in a safe manner.

Presently we have one dispensary to which is operating illegal with no health safety guidelines to its customers. I support the use of this drug for medicinal use and feel it’s best for this Federal Government and Health Canada work quickly to ensure it is clear to the community as to what regulations will be. The Federal Government has a responsibility to ensure such safe product.

What concerns me is that the motion put in place last night gives a clear message that our council wants to regulate something that is clearly ILLEGAL at this present time. I can tell you first hand that the RCMP will not work with the city into regulating something which is clearly still against the law. Doing so we are putting a big liability on the city if God forbid something would happen due to the actions of any dispensary presently distributing this narcotic. The burden of such actions will fall on the tax payers to which all council members took and oath to serve and protect.

Simply said….let’s not put the cart before the horse. We need to BE PATIENT and wait for the Federal Government to implement guidelines on this matter. Until it’s legal, I feel city council and the RCMP have no authority to regulate something that is illegal at the present time. The RCMP have a strong mandate to uphold and turning a blind eye to something illegal is NOT one of them.

The RCMP clearly stated to the media last night that they have a file open and the file remains active.

Until it’s officially legal… I cannot support any illegal dispensary until the law of the land has change and proper precaution are in place to ensure the health and safety of our community.

I do agree we need to prepare for what will be coming…..but until then….the city has no authority to regulate something that is presently illegal and clearly a Federal mandate issue.

Acting alone on this issue and not waiting for proper laws and guidelines in place is simply throwing caution to the air to which I refuse to do.

I’m looking forward and eagerly awaiting the Federal government stance and changes on this issue….but until then I cannot take part in supporting illegal activity.

Councillor Denis Sauve

 

In the end, it was a recorded vote on this motion so I can say the vote was (in Alphabetical Order):

  • FOR : Alemany, McLeman, Minions, Paulson, Washington
  • AGAINST: Ruttan, Sauvé

The second motion that was passed on the topic gave City staff some specific suggestions on how to move forward.  The discussion was much shorter and it was not a recorded vote.  While it isn’t in the written motion below, I suggested during the discussion that the bylaw include a requirement that both non-profits and for-profit dispensaries be required to have a business license so that if any of the requirements imposed in a new bylaw were not met, that license could be revoked by the City and the business shut.

 

Second Motion

Move that staff work with local businesses and the RCMP to come up with conditions and locations. The conditions could include:- -off hours security

-product safety disclosure posted

-age requirement to enter –suggest 19

– stand alone “dispensaries” only (no coffee shop or other combo)

-must keep records of all suppliers and be prepared to give to RCMP if they request it.

I am very proud of City Council for going in the direction it has and I believe it sends an excellent signal of openness and pro-activeness to the community and even to business owners looking at us from outside.  The owner of WeeMedical has said he intends on keeping the business open and also following the rules the City puts in place.

Oh, and one final thing on that topic: I presented a notice of motion, so a motion that would come to the next meeting, asking Staff to write to the Federal Government to urge them to move quickly on the legalization file so that this ‘grey area’ can be resolved and municipalities are not forced to deal with it in such a non-standard way.

 

News Article From 93.3 The Peak:

City Council will regulate where medical marijuana shops can locate, Councillor Jack McLeman believes the city should get in front of the issue and start planning where pot shops can and can’t go.

McLeman said one of the purposes of his motion was to keep pot shops away from parks and schools. McLeman has also asked that city staff put together a report on medical marijuana shops including a legal opinion. Wee Medical owner [Justin] Liu agreed with the motion which allows his shop to remain open for now.

Wee Medical Marijuana owner [Justin] Liu said he’s impressed with the forward thinking leadership of city council. He’ll keep his Third Avenue store open, barring any police issues with the store that currently employs 4 people.

Port Alberni Mayor Mike Ruttan and councillor Denis Sauve voted against the motion arguing that marijuana is illegal and that trumps all other issues.

Councillors Chris Alemany and Sharie Minions admonished Mayor Mike Ruttan for speaking publically against Wee Medical Marijuana in advance of council’s discussion.

Alemany wants the city to send a letter to the federal government, asking them to move forward quickly on legalizing marijuana.

Port Alberni RCMP Inspector Mac Richards said the medical marijuana shop is the focus of an active investigation.

Dispensary Report:

FROM: DATE:

SUBJECT: Background

CITY OF PORT ALBERNI PLANNING DEPARTMENT

Ken Watson, City Manager Scott Smith, City Planner November 2, 2015

Marijuana Dispensaries

A non-profit society (WeeMedical Dispensary Society) has opened a marijuana dispensary in the Uptown on 3rd Avenue. The City has also received verbal inquiries into opening further dispensaries in a variety of areas in the City.

Under the current federal laws, it is illegal to sell marijuana as a storefront operation. The City of Vancouver has chosen to regulate marijuana dispensaries and the City of Victoria is considering similar regulations. There are several unlicensed dispensaries open in Nanaimo including two stores run by WeeMedical. A news report from Nanaimo is attached for information.

A statement on a Supreme Court decision on medical marijuana dated July 8, 2015 is also attached for information. Changes to Federal marijuana laws are possible over the next several years.

Discussion

The City of Port Alberni, Business License bylaw would not require a business license, for a non-profit business. However, even if a business license were required, the City would not issue one for a marijuana dispensary, as the business is illegal. Because this use is illegal the Zoning bylaw does not have any reference to marijuana dispensaries, except to prohibit a storefront or retail outlet as part of a medical marijuana production facility. If Council wanted to amend City bylaws to address marijuana dispensaries, similar to Vancouver and Victoria, the City would be regulating a business that is currently illegal.

The RCMP has issued the WeeMedical Society a letter outlining the concerns and potential ramifications of their marijuana dispensary.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are a challenging issue for local governments and staff is requesting direction from City Council on how to proceed.

Options:

  1. Rely on local RCMP investigation of marijuana dispensary activity.
  2. Investigate bylaw amendments to regulate the activity of a marijuana dispensary. The potential pitfall of this bylaw amendment is that we would be regulating an illegal activity, and the use would need to be permitted in some areas.
  3. Await clarification of similar issues arising from decisions in other B.C. municipalities currently wrestling with this issue.

Recommendation

That the report from the City Planner dated November 2, 2015 be received.

Council direction required.

Port Alberni – Federal All Candidates Meeting Raw Notes

Below you will see my notes taken at tonights all candidates meeting at the Italian Social Centre in Port Alberni.  I make no guarantees that this is accurate though some if not much of it is word for word.  I would characterize, as objectively as possible, the meeting this way.  There was Barb Biley of the Marxist Lennonist Party on far left… Next was John Duncan of Conservative Party…. Then Gord Johns NDP…. Then Carrie Powell Davidson of Liberal Party…. Then Glenn Sollitt of Green Party.

To take the tempersture of the room based on applause.  The NDP won the room.  Followed by the Green, Marxist Lennonist, Liberal and Conservwtive.  The room was silenced and grumbled a number of times in response to a number of answers from Conservative John Duncan.  They applaud mid answer to all of the other candidates.  Strongest applause after most powerful speaking was for NDP.

Here are the notes:

Opening Statements:

Barb Biley Marxist Lennonist party
– 70 candidates
– We need a new constitution and hierarchy of rights
– Should be ways to directly decide issues
– Actually elect candidates from their peers (rather than parties)
– Please sign pledge to save public health care

John Duncan Conservative
– 20yrs in forest industry
– Lived in ucluelet 7years and port Alberni for 1 year
– Am happy to say strength is collaboration with business local gov and community work
– Cpc has brought good gov. Steered through election. Lowered avg age of public infrastructure created 1.3M jobs since recession
– Understand progress comes from infrastructure.
– Advocate for alt connection to horne lake and airport
– Seniors tax credit. Home reno tax credit (permanent). Continue child care benefit and income splitting
– Cpc will cntinue to lower taxes. Invest in infrastructure. Family friendly and senior family. And create 1.3M more jobs.
– Higher rate of home ownerships than US

Johns NDP
– respectful partnership with first nations greetings and respect to them
– Moved to tofino 21 years ago.
– After 10 years of failed policy. Its time for change. We can stop Stephen harper
– Election reform
– Will repeal c51 (applause)
– Will restore Canada Post (applause)
– At pivotal moment. Can rebuild canadas dreams. Strong finish. Strong applause

Carrie powell davidson Liberal
– Feel kinship to PA. Grew up in Powell River,
– Local government is the gov. Of people
– I am used to listening to constituents.
– Council for 2 years
– Gave a long background speech
– Am running because I am extremely concerned about direction
– When i learned trudeau was leader I knew I had to run for Liberal and make him PM. That is why I am running.
– I will take your concerns to ottawa.

Glenn Sollitt – Green
– Alberni is engaged
– Was a deckhand on fathers and own boat.
– Up and down canal ton of times
– Mechanical Engineer
– Connected to the Island
– What drove me to politics was a disenchantment disengagement.
– QP antics is frustrating. We dont see productive work there.
– Single biggest issue. Lost democracy. Do MPs take issues to Ottawa?
– We are under thumb of leaders.
– Every vote is a free vote in green.
– MP is responsible for the needs of its constituents.
– Elizabeth is the leader but you are my boss. (Applause)
Q1 – 2000 tax cut for widows how low income seniros will manage with big cuts in eir income.
Duncan – Not sure of specifics.
No other answers.

Q2- large number of agencies have been cut or removed. Overall chill on public service/science.

Sollit – lost many scientists. Need to step back and stop that. Need to renew charitable status
Powell-Davidson – on the fair elections act. People cant vote. Go check out if you can
Johns – CSIS spying on government is fighting anybody against it. Shame. They are fighting charities and First nations (applause)
Duncan – charitable status is done by independant bureaucracy. it is not political (crowd grumbles) Terrorist propaganda can be seized. On Gov scientist. No protocol has changed. (Partisan applause rest silent)
Biley – we are all so many terorrists according to harper (applause)

Q3 – will ndp repeal c24 (denying citizenship to grandchildren of immigrants)

Johns -Absolutely we will repeal that bill.. Everyone who is a canadian citizn belongs here.
Biley – Citizenship rights can not be subject to government making a decision arbitrairy. They must be inviolable.
Duncan – C51 excludes lawful advocacy. political opposition taking law out of context. Toronto 18 will get out one day. He is dual citizen. We shouldsend them back
Sollitt – will also repeal c24

Q4 – what would you do to restore environmental legislation
Johns – will repeal gutted laws.unmuzzle scientists. Going to UN with set targets. Climate change sustainability act. Environmental bill of rights.
Powell-Davidson – will work closely WITH communities that environment is safe and scientists are there to learn from
Biley – the reasonable starting point is to repeal all the legislation that has changed so much. (She is getting good applause and smiles from Gord johns)
Duncan – “environmental legislation has not been gutted” has been updated to reflect resource extraction reality. Canada leads in this regard.
Sollitt – omnibus bills should be illegal. Trade laws are threatening environment as well.

Q5 – parliamentary reform – consequence if mp does not answer the question in House of Commons?

Sollitt – signed a declaration to basically behave like an adult in parliament, answer questions. Must do everything we can to ensure people behave like adults.
Duncan – i behaved as sollitt said. I do not like underlying suggestion that I do not behave like an adult in ottawa.
Powell-Davidson – if social media witch hunts continue we might not have any more candidates on current trend. We must be your voice of your communities. I will answer your questions directly.
Johns – he recalls certain people asking a question and another person does not answer question. (Referring to ndp asking questions in House and CPC answering eith non-sequiturs) I will not answer a question that i dont have answers to. And if your mp is not answering your questions. Answer them.

Q6 – TPP. should trade agreements not be brought before parliament?
Duncan – interested in TPP. Much of negotiations have been on internet. Trade minister has said yesterday we are not giving up protection on agricultural sector. There is always a lot of opposition while trade agreement happening. Positive after.
Johns – we need to discuss trade agreement in house of commons. How have trade agreements working for us in port alberni.? We are half an hour in and no mention of jobs that are needed in Port Alberni.
Powell-Davidson – i hear concerns around secrecy. Trade is something that is good for Canada. But we must be careful about what we are getting into. Hope duncan is right that agricultural sector is not hurt but what about other industries?
Sollitt – dont know enough about tpp. We do know about nafta and others. We have paid millions of dollars in compensation to US on nafta it is not working well for us. In some agreements No corporation can exist if it does not create profit. This is a large threat to our public institutions (health care, etc). Terrifying.

Q7 – tax credits – how do tax credits benefit low income canadians who struggle to get into a tax bracket.

Duncan – we have lowered taxes for everyone.
Sollitt – simplify tax code greatly. No income tax on less than 20,000. Eliminate offshore havens. We can make tax system much more fair if simplified.
Johns – the top 75 ceos get a $500 million tax break from you. The child tax credit is costing us 2 billion for top 15%. We need to help canadians. The home energy program made sense. Home reno program does not. Be innovative and creative.
Powell-Davidson – tax credits are something liberals are committed to. We will ask wealthy
1% to give a little more. Child care benefit will be bigger and tax free for families.

Q8- fiscal transparency – balanced budget? What about $3 billion out of EI fund? What about money not spent in Veteran?

Johns – it is disgraceful.they shorted first nations 1 billion. They talk about truth and reconciliation not living up to it. You would be ashamed about veterans as well.
Sollitt – we are advocating for Parliamentary budget office. It should set rules. They should cost all party platforms. So we all know accounting is same. You should not have to do a FOI request just for budgeting numbers.
Powell-Davidson – lib party has long history of balanced budget. Fiscal transparency is key and we have a strong economic team. We have a strong plan that is fully costed. We will run small deficits. We will balance our budget. Mr. Trudeau had started posting his expenses online long time ago and we are committed.
Duncan – 1 minute not long enough, what the ndp and libs are not telling you is they will increase payroll tax. (“Liar” from crowd) if maximum does not happn in veteran affairs then money is not spent. Not a bad thing and not a cut. (Grumble from crowd)

Q9 – safety in canada – what position should we respond in this situation against ISIS

Johns – security is very important to me. Challenges in middle east and terrorism . Our biggest strength is UN and diplomacy and give a balanced approached to the middle east and as a peace broker. We need to revert back to the UN. People are at risk right now.
Powell-Davidson – it is a complicated issue. We do not want as a party to be on front lines. We can do what we do best as peace keepers. We should do what we are best at. We will be keeping canada safer if we fulfill those roles.
Duncan – it is one thing to talk here and another to talk to kurd family. I have talked to those families. If you witness children being beheaded. We are delivering military aid. We have 69 people on ground and some airplanes. The kurdish thank us. We will accept refugees…. Mic Cut off.
Sollitt – opposed to bombing mission. We should halt selling arms to middle east (applause). I wonder what canada position should be. We have a humanitarian requirement here. We should look inwards before we go to foreign countries.
Biley – we should get out of Middle East and we should be an anti- war country.

Q10 are you in favour of health care cuts that have happened.

Powell-Davidson – health has been number one issue across riding. And lack of action by fed and province to disburse monies. Our full health care plan will be announced any day. We are committed to healt care and workig with provinces. And pharmacare.

Johns – health care is in ndp dna. We will renew accord with 6% escalator. We have a strong senior strategy. We will invest 300 million hire 7000 practioniers and put in pharmacare. It will pay for itself by buying bulk medicine.

Duncan – addressed this issue earlier tonight. We have increased funding every year. 67% increase in that time. The provinces have decided to reduce funding. Our transfers will be greater than where province are going. Provinces made zero committment. (Same 5 people applaud)
Biley – has a full list of demands (public health care gets applause). Full expansion of public health care (applause)
Sollitt – need a health accord. 2014 it expired. We will restore funding to 6% increases. We are only country that does not have pharmacare. We will provide that. You will get free pharmaceuticals. It is low hanging fruit we must move on it.

Q11 – bank of canada. WHen will you use it to fund public services remove it from banksters.

Biley – you are totally correct we must control private banks. Public people are best investment.
Powell-Davidson – i need to do more research – our major infrastructure promise includes an infrastructure bank. A public bank. I will look forward to sharing that with you.
Johns – I am not an expert on bank of canada. Banks have record profits. We have talked about bank fees that have impact on canadians and small business. We must research how to reform the central bank to better serve canadians.
Duncan – canada has most respected systen in worl.d you might have some concerns as consumers but it has served us well. What you are suggesting is communism. (What? Says crowd)
Sollitt- when bank of canada created – it was used for public infrastructure internal. We now fund IMF. (Very fast and very detailed response. I think room a little surprised).

Q12 – what strategy for children in poverty?

Sollitt – guaranteed living income. Determine what poverty income is. Immediately Raise all to poverty level. It replaces existing welfare and shame based systems. It is a cheap way to go. We would save $130 million.
Biley – forestry used to provide good jobs. We now export and do not do sustainable forestry. We must encourage secondary industry. That would help and create jobs.
Duncan – as of august. We doubled child care benefit parents will receive $2000 a year. It is interesting that UniCEf says child poverty rate decreased during recession. Poverty rate is at lowest ever. We are responsible for that and we are not done yet.
Johns – 1/3rd of children are living in poverty here in valley. There has been no voice in Ottawa. We have a plan. We must kickstart the economy. I will do everything I can to change it. I am a collaborator. We will find solutions to our problems together. (Applause)
Powell-Davidson – i have mentioned our plan to grow middle class. We will lift 315,000 kids out of poverty. We will work on national early learning program. We must start helping grassroots. Must break cycle.

Q13 – unemployment is at 15% for young canadians and is trendingnup. How can university graduates get by.

Duncan – we have most enviable recovery of any recession country. We have hillary clinton saying she is jealous. Our middle class is better than USA. All the stats are good. Youth employment is never where we want it to be.
Powell-Davidson – i am very exicted for plans for assisting youth. Our jobs and skills training is above all else. We will create summer jobs. We will provide training and job skills. We will invest in green tech and industry. We will help our encvioron,ent and economy.
Biley – harper gov has carried out destruction of industrial sector. Must defend industries and process raw materials here not SHIPPING AWAY. Post secondary should be free(applause)
Sollitt – student debt – 5 year plan. Immediate interest relief. Relieve debt to max 20,000 after 5yrs. By 2020 we will have free university/college.
Johns – create jobs. Invest in manufacturing. We all have friends going to oilsands. We are shipping jobs between communities. We need employment in our communities. We need to focus on tech. We could invest in PATH and airport and other sectors in alberni valley.

Q14 – there are no boides of water that are protected on vancouver island. I work for government.

Sollitt – we would repeal the laws in omnibus bills. And make omnibus illegal. We must protect ourselves from trade agreements that override our sovereignty.
Johns – repealing the laws. We are committed to it. Environemtnal bill of rights. We have right to clean water and air and sustainable industry.
Duncan – water protection act was about shipping not about waters. The narrative is incorrect. This was inadequate legislation now fixed.
Powell-Davidson – we will reinstate funding for enviro sciences. We have international commitment to protect our seas and international areas of water. We are way behind other countries including russia!

Q15 – retired from navy, to liberals will you start building ships after 35 years of no ship building
– Powell-Davidson we havent been in charge we are committed to invest in navy,
– Sollitt why with the largest coastline we have…. Why do we not have the industry? We need ship building. In port alberni perhaps.
– Duncan – we made 30 yeqr commitment to replace coast guard. We have built near shore coast guard. We are building offshore ships in north van. We are committed to ship building in canada.

Closing –
Sollitt – why vote green? We are not going to form government. we are not delusional. Our target is to have 10-15MPs. We will reach out and cooperate. If it is liberal or ndp. We want to implement our platform, we would like other parties to steal our ideas. Biggest idea is a council of canadian government. Including municipal, first nations, inuit, metis, provinces. To implement big national strategies.

Powell-Davidson – thank you. There are many issues we did not get to. How are you going to create jobs. I have put support behind PATH project. Infrastructure program is good from liberals. We will build big projects. We will push for secondary highway access. Also housing component. We are not cutting pension income splitting. Liberals know we can have a heightened safety and protect civil liberties with c51. Come to Chars landing on Thursdays to say Hi. Vote for the longest name on the ballot.

Johns – i have been listening here and looking all over the world for examples. It can be done. We can have sustainable jobs. In quebec we saw huge benefit from childcare. We will hear (from cpc) that we can’t help on many things. We can elect someone to stay the course. But i dont see many places where this course is working. You can vote for someone who will work with you and get better. We can’t let another generation slip by. They deserve better (applause)

Duncan – being in rural bc rural canada. I expected questions on other things. I am proud that i ended gun registry. (Some applause). Here is what tom mulcair says “ndp will bring something that will bring every gun in canada” trudeau says: “i would vote again to keep long un registry”. I will keep voting to keep guns from criminals. Starts reciting stats. (Crowd grumbles….) “The last three months our manufacturing sector grew”. Port alberni is a jewel. Transportation is the hurdle. Municipal government has vision i support that vision (runs out of time)

Biley – health care was number one issue at start of campaign. But it has not come up. Issues of cpncerns are not coming to canadians. John duncan is here on behalf of pmo. He is bringing stats that try to show questions raised are simply “delusional”. I could be deported to england based on c-24 contrary to what duncan said. Vote to stop harper. …… (She spoke well… Received well)