Transportation is a key to Nanaimo's future

Len Krog

It is hard to find anyone who does not believe that improved ferry transportation to the Lower Mainland would be a huge boost to Nanaimo. Yet implementation of the plans to introduce such a service continue to languish. It is difficult to imagine a more immediately effective economic development tool for our City.  Together with faster turnaround approval times at City Hall,  there will be increased interest in our City from the Lower Mainland and elsewhere in Canada. So let’s work with every organization involved to make this happen!

Our Airport serves as a great example of how investment brings measurable returns to our City when plans and potential get turned into reality.

At a more local level, our new Council should seek ways to improve public transit. New bus service to Duke Point and other destinations ought to be achievable, while the vision of an integrated transportation hub downtown remains a desirable objective. Valuable community consultations have produced plans and ideas. Now it is time for action!

Infrastructure a vital component of managing a city

Len Krog

Roads, Sidewalks, Water, Sewers, Parks and Recreation—these are the primary focus of municipal governments, and the major consumer of our tax revenues. The growth of our City over the last 20 years or more—more people, many of retirement age, coming to live here—has required major expenditure on improvements and expansion of existing services.

Nanaimo is fortunate to have a professional staff to manage our roadways and what goes under them.  Our park and recreation facilities are as good or better than in other Cities of similar size.  

We have inherited an outstanding Conference Centre, but we need the hotel facilities that will help reach its potential, as originally planned. Whatever the facility’s shortcomings, we should always remember the physical and environmental benefits that its construction accrued to Commercial Street and downtown Nanaimo.

Our new Council must support the work of City staff who manage and operate our facilities, and to work with others to ensure that Nanaimo can receive its fair share of federal and provincial infrastructure investment dollars. Past performance has clearly demonstrated that Nanaimo’s ability to receive its fair share of these dollars comes when all our public institutions work closely to develop and put forward a consistent message.

Working with a dedicated Economic Development Office in Nanaimo, the City, the Airport and Port Authorities, and the University can improve our chances of getting essential new public infrastructure in place.

As Nanaimo grows, there is an opportunity to encourage new partnerships between the City, community organizations and private investors to build and operate the kind of recreational, cultural and business attractions that make a City vibrant, and a desirable place to live and grow.

With that in mind, our new Council should be encouraged to work to find ways to get more community value out of our oceanfront, arguably our greatest natural amenity.  Whether it be better access to the water for recreation, or for education or other pursuits, we have yet to realize the opportunities of our ocean location for business and for pleasure.

Similarly, perhaps it is time to look again at how the City might be able to expedite extension of the Harbourfront Walkway into Departure Bay, as well as seize and work upon such ideas as an Ocean Discovery Centre and a Ocean Sport Centre. These are opportunities for the City to work with private individuals and organizations to create oceanfront activity that can only enhance our ability to increase tourism and employment.

We can do better on economic development

Len Krog

Economic development is all about creating meaningful job opportunities for Nanaimo residents. It is about creating and fostering a “CAN DO” attitude, and about putting into place the organizational structure to guide Council and potential investors as we move forward.

We should not expect that every development proposal will progress to completion. As we all know, Nanaimo has had more than its share of disappointments in recent years. Hotel projects abandoned, transportation links not built, a downtown struggling to prosper—these have, unfortunately, become a Nanaimo hallmark. We CAN DO better!

We should also recognize the successful ventures that have located in Nanaimo, and the benefits that they have brought in terms of employment and training opportunities, and tax revenues. Our Chamber of Commerce is second to none in its work to advance business interests and share its members’ experience. We have real success stories here—but we need more.

We have many of the needed building blocks for success in place. We have a University that trains students to achieve academic and technical excellence. We have professional organizations and businesses with headquarters here who can be encouraged to share their expertise. We have retired men and women with valuable experience in business and labour organizations. We have young professionals keen to make their mark here. Working together with these resources, we CAN DO more!

Our new Council must review its building and development permitting policies to ensure timely approvals while maintaining appropriate local standards.

The revival of a dedicated and expert Economic Development Office whose primary task will be to bring new investment to Nanaimo would reflect a progressive move forward.

Parks, recreation and culture

Len Krog

We can be proud of the way in which our City and its partners have worked to protect and to restore our natural environment over many years. The City’s transformation from its past, to its present status as a pleasant City of parks, coastline and mountains, has been a real achievement of many people, both elected and volunteers. Nanaimo’s enviable location on the Salish Sea is a prize asset which we must preserve and improve for generations to come.

In addition to protecting our natural assets, Nanaimo is amongst the leaders in Canada in its waste and recycling management programs for its growing population.  Our new Council should commit to maintain the progress that has been achieved by others, and to build upon it by working with public and private organizations who are anxious to play their part.

Be it the Snuneymuxw First Nation, the Nanaimo Port Authority, with its responsibilities in our harbour and on our shoreline, or organizations such as the Nanaimo Area Lands Trust, working together, we can preserve, protect and improve what we have, while paying proper respect to the past.

More Parks and green space that people can enjoy, more leisure and recreational opportunities?  Yes! But also more businesses and industries that will locate here and operate in a manner that is responsible to our environment and to their employees and that will increase the tax base which makes investment in all of our facilities possible. 

These should be keystones in the approach that our new Council takes to addressing environmental issues that will continue to remain as one of today’s most important topics for our City.

Social issues are of great concern to Nanaimo residents

Len Krog

Statistics show that Nanaimo has had a significant core of poverty for decades. Many have struggled, and continue to do so, with unemployment and “under-employment”.  Our issues are neither new, nor are we alone in Nanaimo in facing them.  

But whether it is home affordability, homelessness, access to mental health services, drug abuse, or domestic violence, it is clear that the taxpayers of Nanaimo cannot solve these issues alone.

Our new Council members will reflect the concern that exists in our City about these facts. We all want to do what we can to help those who need the opportunity to improve their lives, and to help in the provision of services to those who, for often complex reasons, cannot do so.  

We should not forget that many social problems have their origins in poor economic circumstances, and that we need to focus on economic development and job creation opportunities as we strive to address the despair that we see in parts of our City. The adage that “the best social program anywhere is a good-paying job” is as appropriate for Nanaimo as for anywhere else.

Our new Council will need to recognize and draw upon the much and varied expertise available in Nanaimo’s strong not-for-profit organizations which continue their amazing efforts to create common-sense solutions for our vulnerable residents.

Nanaimo must, however, given its experience with attempting to manage many of these social problems, be in the forefront in working with other cities and the provincial and federal governments to find lasting and humane solutions.

Our new Council should commit itself to “step up to the plate” and to do what we can do within our jurisdiction and resources. The recent reports on Homelessness and on Affordable Housing propose priorities and actions that our new Council will find very helpful in its future actions

My platform- good governance

Len Krog

“Good Governance” means providing Nanaimo with the services and systems that will allow Council to make sound decisions for us all. “Good Governance” should be a key objective of our new Mayor and Council.

“Good Governance” at City Hall requires:

 A strong, motivated staff, managed by a qualified and experienced Chief Administrative Officer.

A culture that demands fiscal responsibility and accountability in order to ensure that your tax dollars are used wisely.

A system that engages the Snuneymuxw First Nation and other public institutions, such as the University, the Port and Airport Authorities, and the Health Authority in City affairs and that engages City residents through Advisory Committees that have clear mandates.

A clearly defined strategy that respects existing and future community plans, to encourage economic development, job creation and social well-being.

Good governance also comes from experience, and the ability to listen to the viewpoints of others, such as our various Neighbourhood Associations. It requires a respectful and tolerant approach to debate.  It requires a Mayor who is an experienced leader who can work together with Council members, staff and Advisory Committees.

A system of good governance creates an environment and a business culture that encourages people to consider Nanaimo as a place to raise families, and to find and create meaningful employment.

Good governance, fiscal responsibility and respect for taxpayers - residential, commercial and industrial—are what create the bedrock on which Nanaimo will move forward to reach the potential we all know it has always had.

Krog makes it official, he's running for mayor of Nanaimo

Leonard Krog

By Merv Unger

Leonard Krog made it official Wednesday, he is in the race to become mayor of Nanaimo. he made the announcement Wednesday in front of a jam-packed crowd at the Coast Bastion Inn.

I sat down with Leonard – as he likes to be called – to discuss the move from the Legislature to city hall, specifically the mayor’s job. What stood out was the support he received from across the political spectrum that encouraged, even pressured him to run.

This is not a spur-of-the-moment decision. Leonard and I briefly kicked around the idea of running for mayor 15 months ago, and then on and off over time. He had numerous discussions with other supporters from across the political spectrum as well. But there was nothing substantive until recently. 

City Hall has been in constant turmoil, but it finally came to decision time – could he make a difference? Council has been beset by fighting, the loss of numerous senior employees, RCMP investigations and the appointment of two special prosecutors. Nanaimo has become a laughingstock to the rest of the country.

This is a major career shift after 18 years in the B.C. Legislature as MLA for two ridings – Nanaimo-Parksville from 1991 to 1996 and then for Nanaimo from 2005 until the present.

He says his switch to municipal politics is not a commentary on his role in the Legislature, it was simply that the time was right; Nanaimo needs someone with experience to step in and re-establish the role of the mayor, city council and operations of the city.

He believes his years as an MLA, his law practice and extensive community involvement give him the background that a mayor needs. During his entire term as an MLA he’s never been hard to find, a constant presence at local events, issues and activities.

He believes Nanaimo needs someone who will bring all people together for change – he’s not doing it for his ego or just to get another job.

Krog emphasizes his run for the mayor’s job is not a statement about other candidates in the running for the job. He recognizes that after the past four years there is the distinct possibility of wholesale turnover on city council, and that brings home the need for first getting a new and experienced city manager and focusing on training new councillors Many people with good intentions and skills may not be ready to immediately drive an agenda for progress.

The new council will have to rely on expertise of a city staff which needs to be rebuilt after the turmoil and many departures in recent years. He’s also taking a novel approach that involves past council members and previous management staff of the city. He believes they have a lot to offer. People have lost confidence in elected officials, and he wants to rebuild that, adding Nanaimo has all the ingredients but recently the cooks have been spoiling the broth with internal wrangling and bullying.

Beyond the immediate steps, Krog wants to bring a long-range vision, because in his view, Nanaimo has all the ingredients to become a first-rate city in the province. The city does not have to take a back seat to Victoria, we just need to have direction and communication to bring people together. He points to Nanaimo’s geography, climate, the university, regional hospital, the Port of Nanaimo and other infrastructure. 

The city’s top assets include its motivated citizens – from young people to retirees – all of whom want to be safe and secure and live happy lives here. That means building a community where people are born, achieve, and are educated so they can prosper and succeed here instead of having to relocate somewhere else. 

He doesn’t have instant solutions to the housing crisis, believing city council has to deal with the development community to make it attractive to build here. And council must keep pestering higher levels of government for help. 

The past four years have revolved around wasted opportunity but he sees a light at the end of the tunnel. What’s striking when talking to him is that he sees no immediate bed of roses, noting there will be tough sledding ahead to repair the damage. His vision of what can be accomplished is basic but appears genuine and realistic.

There’s a sense of community and encouragement, of participation and motivation for people to become involved. He believes Nanaimo residents want a public service they can trust and respect. And he senses a feeling of civic duty from across the political spectrum, adding he’s not representing any political group, but wants to be mayor for all of the people in this city. That’s borne out in his theme of bringing people together for change by electing a team with good leadership.

Leonard and his wife Sharon are hometown kids, both having been born in Nanaimo, as were their children and grand children. As he says, the Krogs have “skin in this game”.

He will resign from the Legislature if and when he wins the mayoralty. He will not collect his MLA salary once the official campaign period begins, about a month before the civic election. 

 

Support flowing in for Krog's mayoral run

0614 - Support is flowing in from many quarters for Leonard Krog’s bid to become mayor of Nanaimo.

Fellow candidate Don Hubbard was magnanimous, saying: “To be honest, I’m very comfortable with either one of us being mayor of this great city, I’d prefer it to be me but Leonard is a great second choice.”

Premier John Horgan said he knows Krog has thought long and hard about running for the job after being overwhelmed by community members who are urging him to bring stability to a council that has been beset with infighting.

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson thanked Krog for his service to B.C. and wished him the best in his run for mayor.

 Former Chilliwack MLA and cabinet minister John Les posted a prediction on social media, saying “he will win in a landslide". 

Former mayors were prominent at the campaign launch Wednesday. Graeme Roberts, Gary Korpan and John Ruttan were on hand.