NANAIMO — “I just don’t understand. I spent hours making Facebook comments.”
Darryl Cooper sits quietly at his dining room table, a small Ikea light hanging from the ceiling, nursing a weak decaf coffee. He’s invited a reporter from The Nanaimo Beacon over.
Rocking back and forth in his chair, Cooper mumbles “Hours. I spent hours.”
Cooper is talking about his dozens of comments in local Facebook groups about the forthcoming city budget. Current Council discussion is around a roughly 5% property tax increase.
“I just don’t understand why they won’t listen to citizens,” Cooper says. “I mean, it’s not just me in these Facebook groups. There are others. We’re all upset. We don’t think there should be any tax increase,” he told The Beacon. “In fact, there should be a 50% cut.”
When The Beacon noted that the City would have to remove all fire departments, most police coverage, and no longer collect garbage in otder to meet that cut, Cooper said “Well, uh, I don’t know. I’m not really sure how any of that works.”
“We don’t need more taxes. What we need are more goddamned cops in this town!” Cooper said. (The proposed budget contains funding for 15 new RCMP officers.)
“And I nearly got hit by a car. Our sidewalks are terrible.” (The proposed budget contains $19 million in funding cycling and pedestrian amenities.)
Cooper says he believes that City Council should govern based on “reasoned, thoughtful, and balanced opinions” surfaced in local Facebook groups like A Better Nanaimo, Nanaimo Talk, and A Better Nanaimo Talk.
At press time, the “reasoned, thoughtful, and balanced opinions” in those groups include:
“Also,” Cooper added, jutting aggressively forward in his chair “They never ask citizens — taxpayers. They just do what they want.”
“If they were serious about governing properly, they’d give us a way — any way — for us to, like, have some kind of input into the process.
When reminded about the various methods taxpayers can have direct input into the property tax and budget decisions, such as:
- attending the budget-focused e-town hall meeting on December 2
- attending any of the the public committee meetings
- open Council meetings
- attending the special finance and audit meeting on November 22
- attending the special finance and audit meeting on November 25
- attending the special finance and audit meeting on December 2
- providing web feedback on the 2020-2024 financial plan
- showing up to the various informal meet-and-greet done by Councillors
- emailing any of the Councillors’ via their publicly listed email addresses
- phoning any of the Councillors directly via their publicly listed phone numbers
Cooper told The Beacon those “don’t count.”
“I’m busy. I don’t have time to do any of that bullshit. If I do any of those things, where am I going to find the time to bitch about it on Facebook?”
Among the proposed things the next budget will pay for:
- 15 new RCMP members
- Increased funding for Economic Development
- Replacement of Fire Station #1
- Completion of the first lit baseball field (Serauxmen Stadium)
- Construction of the Harewood Youth Park
- Phased development of the Waterfront Walkway