Amotion is coming before Nanaimo city councillors to urge the Island Corridor Foundation to make the E&N rail corridor a high-priority site for biking and walking facilities.
If passed, the motion would ask the ICF to work with local governments and First Nations along the route, including Nanaimo, to establish pedestrian and biking services along the route, which runs from the City of Courtenay to Victoria. Funding assistance from "senior government" would also be requested.
The motion's sponsor, Coun. George Anderson, said it is important that local governments recognize the transportation and recreational benefits of the corridor, even if passenger rail service is not restored on the line.
There has been no passenger service on the rail line since early 2011, due to deteriorating rail conditions. The ICF secured $15 million from the federal government and province to replace wooden rail ties along the route. The Regional District of Nanaimo and four other regional districts have also contributed to a $3.2-million pot for rail and trestle repairs on the E&N line.
But the future of the rail line remains in doubt. Talks between the ICF and Via Rail, the crown corporation in charge of passenger service, have stalled. Earlier this month, ICF executive director Graham Bruce blasted Via for the delayed response.
"I think they're very close to bad-faith bargaining," Bruce said at the time.
Federal Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt says she will discuss the issue with Via Rail
in the future. Anderson's motion comes before Nanaimo council on Sept. 9.
City ratepayers could see a reduction of $35.25 from their garbage and recycling fees as a result of a potential financial incentive program.
The province is changing recycling regulations for residential packaging and paper waste. In 2011, it announced that the responsibility and cost of collecting and managing products like cereal boxes, newspapers and egg cartons would shift from local governments to industry, starting in May 2014.
Industry players formed a nonprofit agency, Multi-Material British Columbia, to oversee the transition.
MMBC is proposing a contract with the city that would see the municipality collect the materials on the agency's behalf, at a rate of $35.25 per household, per year.
Nanaimo sanitation, recycling and cemeteries manager Gary Franssen said the contract would be a "break-even" proposition for the city. However, since the city would no longer have to pay for collection of the materials, residents would see their fees reduced by a corresponding amount.
A report comes before councillors on Monday.
LABOUR LAW CONTRACT
A new council report recommends that the city stick with its current labour lawyer until August 2015.
Marcia McNeil has been the city's primary labour lawyer since 2007, according to the city report.
In 2007, she was with law firm Fuller Pearlman McNeil. By 2012, the city appointed law firm Heenan Blaikie for a three-year term to handle its labour law issues following a request for proposal process. McNeil had previously joined the firm, and continued to act as the designated labour lawyer for the city.
McNeil is leaving the firm at the end of August to practice law on her own. If council approves the staff recommendation, McNeil would serve out the balance of the three-year contract. According to the city report, there will be no changes to her hourly rate ($275 per hour).
Nanaimo human resources and organizational planning director Terry Hartley, said city staff have "a good working relationship" with McNeil.
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