Cameron Wigmore, Green Party Member: June 2008

June 20, 2008

Nanaimo Transit Better Service Now

I recently overheard a young man on the bus speaking with his friend about gas prices. "Well," he said, "I'm taking the bus because it's gotten to the point that I have to choose between feeding my kids or my truck."
When we consider this reality, we must ask why our city isn't hurrying to invest in our public transit services.

From the citizens point of view, there needs to be a viable alternative to driving our own cars. Currently the bus service is too sparse to properly serve the people of Nanaimo. If our city invests more in this green form of transportation, we will see increased ridership, less congestion on the roads and less pollution. By avoiding the costs of running our own vehicle we can choose how to spend the money saved instead of feeling like a slave to our gas tanks.

Upon reviewing the 2008 Nanaimo transit plan I noticed that while the plan seems appropriate, the timeline for implementing service improvements is far too drawn out. On the RDN transit web page it states that "The projected addition of more than 90,000 annual service hours would result in nearly doubling the conventional transit service level in the Nanaimo region over the next decade." Ten years is a long time for us to have to wait for reasonable service so that we can realistically consider commuting to and from work on the bus instead of by car.

It is shown that the net cost for the RDN to implement all short term options (2009-'10) would be $692,000. These improvements include ten new busses offering an additional 24,500 hrs of service. While this is a good start, I think it can be implemented faster.

Where I really want to see faster implementation of the decade long plan is in the medium range service options. Proposed to be implemented by 2018, these increases include 24 vehicles running for an additional 65,900 hrs, at a net cost for the RDN of $1,609,000. When I consider how much our city council went over budget on the PNC, I have to wonder why our city isn't investing in our transit system right away, rather than over the next decade.

I ride the bus. I have asked a lot of people what they'd like from our transit system, and they always remark that more frequent service on existing routes is needed immediately. This transit plan will offer that, but over the next ten years. That's too long to wait. As a member of your city council, I would be a strong advocate for better service now from our public transit. Our transit system isn't up to par with the rest of BC. I will help get it there, and I'll work to make it an excellent example of how a city can really make it's transit system work for its citizens.

June 12, 2008

Decision to Run for Nanaimo City Council

(this is a copy of a letter to the editor I recently sent to my local papers)

It was inspiring to learn that NALT (Nanaimo and Area Land Trust) has made a call for council candidates to address sustainability and environmental issues. After speaking with a number of community members, and with their encouragement and support, I have decided to run for city council.

A green development option would be to invest in creating a complete picture for Nanaimo communities, reducing the need for us to go across the city for work or shopping. Devoting lanes to busses and cyclists instead of expanding roads is an effective way to reduce congestion and encourage greener forms of transportation. It’s also less expensive and more sustainable than adding evermore lanes to our roads. I understand that our transit system is considering doubling service within the next decade, but I don’t think we should have to wait that long. The cost savings are considerable for individuals using transit instead of driving, and that money can be spent in our communities rather than pouring it into our gas tanks. This is a case of “build it and they will come”, and I know many people who would commute by bus if routes would run more frequently.

Efficiency and conservation are two of the most powerful tools in our efforts to run a city sustainably. We can strengthen our economy by conserving our ecology. Over the long term these efforts can reduce water, energy and transportation development costs significantly. Experience has shown me that to achieve ecological sustainability and well-being in our community we need to work with local businesses. As a member of city council I would be consulting the residents, community groups and business owners of Nanaimo frequently, rather than paying costly consulting firms to make decisions. I define a fiscally responsible city council as one that keeps a close eye on its budget so it doesn’t have to resort to raising property taxes as a result of overspending. Other local concerns I'm aware of include drug and homelessness problems and development strategies.

Having run for a federal political party, and having served on the national council for that federal party, I know that I have the experience and insight to get things done in our city. I recently attended a Nanaimo city council meeting and realized a strong desire to get directly involved at a local level. Knowing that groups like NALT are encouraging participation in our local political scene gives me hope that we can keep Nanaimo on a sustainable path.


Cameron Wigmore

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UPDATE! (August '08)

I'm sad to announce that I will not be running for municipal council in the fall.

In late June I suffered a herniated disc in my lower back and had to be taken by ambulance to Victoria for emergency surgery. It'll be a few more months before I'm back up to full speed, but it does seem like I'm on the path of full recovery.

What this means to my campaign is that I've lost a lot of momentum that I would have been building over the summer. Something I learned when I ran in the last federal election for the Green Party of Canada is that for a campaign to be successful it needs good planning including volunteers and fundraising. I have not been able to devote the necessary time and effort to win, and I know that while I'm in rehabilitation I'll be moving too slow to chase down Nanaimo voters on the street.

Thank you for all of your support!

Cameron Wigmore