Plans for the City of Nanaimo’s new Fire Station No. 1. (S2 Architecture/City of Nanaimo image)

Editorial: Entrust committees with current city business

New environment committee, for example, qualified to discuss current events in city

If Nanaimo city council is serious about making its new committees effective, then there’s no time like the present. Committees should be entrusted with work related to timely civic matters.

At a council meeting last week, councillors debated and ultimately voted 8-1 to exempt the city’s expensive Fire Station No. 1 re-build from the LEED certification process to save money and paperwork.

A few councillors felt the city’s policy on LEED should be examined. Coun. Ben Geselbracht suggested it’s something the new environment committee could look at, Mayor Leonard Krog said the committee should have some time first to find its footing and establish its own priorities and Coun. Tyler Brown said he thought the topic might overlap with items within the committee’s work plan. That was the extent of the discussion, and we think it’s an example of a lost opportunity.

Sometime during the fire hall planning process, LEED certification went from a budgeted item to a bit of a headache. Staff wanted it scrapped and so did eight out of nine councillors. If anyone values LEED building ideals moving forward, it may well be the sort of community members who would volunteer their time to sit on a city environment committee.

Fire Station No. 1 won’t be LEED-certified, but what about whatever city building is next? Maybe now is the right time to consider that question, rather than at LEED-exemption time, and maybe environment committee members are qualified to study, discuss and make a recommendation, which is as much as would ever be asked of them.

The city’s committees shouldn’t be make-work projects for an already-busy City of Nanaimo staff. If we want to attract and retain sharp and keen minds on our city committees, let’s assume those groups are ready, willing and able to talk current events in the city.

Maybe LEED building codes are a priority and maybe they aren’t. Either way, the city should always be open to making the most of its committees.

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