Documents being published today by News Nanaimo provide revealing insights into the financial affairs of the 44 candidates running in Nanaimo’s municipal election.
The previously unpublished financial disclosure statements, obtained under BC’s Financial Disclosure Act, are required to be filed with candidates’ nomination documents.
A total of 40 candidates have been nominated for eight councillor positions and four candidates are vying for mayor, the city’s chief election officer Sheila Gurrie announced yesterday.
That is the highest number of councillor candidates since since 2005 when 39 ran for Nanaimo council.
Only four of nine incumbents on the current troubled council are running again. Mayor Bill McKay and councillors Diane Brennan, Jim Kipp and Bill Yoachim previously announced they wouldn’t run again.
Council majority leader Bill Bestwick, who previously had ambitions to be mayor, made no announcement but failed to file nomination documents by yesterday’s 4:00pm deadline.
Forms reveal possible conflicts and competence
While current NDP MLA Leonard Krog is likely a shoo-in for mayor, voters face a daunting task sorting through the broad field of councillor candidates.
That is where the financial disclosures being published today may help voters trim the ranks of prospects.
The financial forms provide insights into candidates’ potential conflicts, motives for running, ability to manage their own finances — and even their ability to complete a prescribed form correctly.
Councillors in Nanaimo, who must manage a budget of almost $180 million, stand to get approximately $50,000 per year from the city and the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN).
They also receive the same medical, dental and insurance benefits as city managers, and have their internet, cellphone and home phone caller ID services paid for by taxpayers.
This can be a significant incentive for people who see a seat on council as a solution to their money problems.
The financial disclosures show big differences in the financial well-being of candidates. Some are obviously financially secure, while others are clearly strapped for cash or have doubtful income sources.
“I am not a dead beat dad”
Candidates Fred Statham and Kevin Storrie both indicate that they have significant personal debts other than for a mortgage or money borrowed for household or personal living expenses.
As his first creditor Mr. Storrie lists “CBV Financial Services,” which it turns out is a collections agency actually called CBV Collections Services Ltd (Canada).
His second is listed as “Eos Financial,” otherwise known as EOS Canada, part of a large international debt collection group headquartered in Hamburg, Germany.
Mr. Storrie, whose income comes from CPP, OAS, GIS and the BC government’s Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters, lists as a creditor the BC Attorney General’s Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP).
However, in an attachment to the form, he says this is an error and he has a Supreme Court judgement in is favor.
“All payments required have been made by me and my status with them is up to date. I am not a dead beat dad. Far from it,” Mr. Storrie says in the attachment.
Mr. Statham, who is employed as a community support worker, identifies that he owes money to CIBC and Coastal Community Credit Union but is working with a debt relief service to repay.
“I will be debt free on March 16, 2019,” he notes on his form.
Less than 20% of candidates indicate that they owe money other than for a mortgage or personal living expenses. Candidates who declared such debts include Jerry Hong, Peter Kent, Brian Loos, Llyod MacIlquham, Ashley Zboyovsky, and mayoral candidate Don Hubbard.
Interestingly, only Mr. Loos reported a vehicle lease as a debt that isn’t a living expense, suggesting that he defines essential living expenses differently to other candidates.
Errors and omissions
The care candidates give to completing the forms may also provide useful insight into the level of diligence they will give to making decisions on behalf of 90,000 city residents.
News Nanaimo’s analysis of the financial information shows that at least 11 candidates had obvious errors or omissions in their disclosures.
Incumbent Ian Thorpe did not disclose his income from city council or the RDN. He also failed to list the name of each corporation he holds one or more shares in, indicating instead that he has “misc. investments through RBC Wealth Management.” Most candidates who disclosed owning shares listed each one individually.
Incumbent Gord Fuller failed to disclose that he is paid for his role as a director on the RDN, which last year paid him more than $10,000.
He also included his principal residence as a property holding when the instructions clearly state not to. Council candidate Erin Hemmens also incorrectly listed her home as a property asset.
Several candidates incorrectly included government assistance payments or pensions when asked to identify the organizations that they receive work-related pay from.
Sources of work income
Candidates’ work income varies widely. A total of 15 candidates said they are employees while 13 said they own businesses that provide them income.
Seven candidates are currently paid as elected officials, including incumbent Sheryl Armstrong, Mr. Fuller, Mr. Hong, Mr. Krog, school trustee and council candidate Noah Routley, and Mr. Thorpe. The seventh is Mr. Kent, currently a councillor in Squamish, but he is not required to disclose this on the form.
Issues often arise for candidates who own businesses. If the companies are BC Corporations and they control more than 30% of the shares, they are meant to disclose the nature of their companies’ operations, their subsidiaries and property holdings. However, several failed to do so.
Among the business owners, the best disclosures were provided by Mr. Hong, Mr. Hubbard, and Mr. MacIlquham. But most others merely said they get income from their companies, leaving the public in the dark about what those companies do.
A total of six candidates for council or mayor indicate that they own property apart from their principal residence within the regional district of Nanaimo.
As a sitting Provincial elected official, Mr. Krog also has to disclose any property he owns anywhere in the province. He disclosed that he owns a 35-acre farm in Black Creek, which BC Assessment valued at $531,000 last year, and a 2-bedroom apartment in Victoria, which is currently assessed at $670,000. He also listed the lease on his law office on Skinner Street in the city.
Other candidates who own property other than their private homes include:
- Council candidate Tyler Brown said he owns a house on Millstone Ave. assessed at $391,000;
- Incumbent councillor Mr. Hong disclosed owning the Queens Hotel property, valued at about $848,000;
- Mayoral candidate Eike Jordan said she owns a commercial property on Milton St. assessed at $347,000;
- Council candidate Brian Loos listed two properties apart from his private home — one on Hamilton Ave. assessed at $413,000, and one on Fourth Street valued at $265,000; and,
- Council candidate Jeet Manhas said he owns one property on Mexicana Rd. worth $453,000. He also disclosed owning two properties in Courtenay, which he didn’t have to, assessed at a total of $150,000.
A total of 16 candidates indicated that they own shares in public or private companies. Mayoral candidate Mr. Hubbard and council candidates Gary Korpan, Mr. Loos, Mr. MacIlquham, and Jim Turley showed that they have extensive stock holdings.
All of the financial disclosure forms are embedded below and you can also view a spreadsheet summary of the data compiled by Tod Maffin.