NEWS

Nanaimo council candidates’ financial details revealed

From debt collection agencies to extensive stock portfolios, forms reveal financial details of Nanaimo’s council hopefuls

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The previously unpublished financial disclosure statements, obtained under BC’s Financial Disclosure Act, are required to be filed with candidates’ nomination documents.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.

Kevin Storrie financial disclosure
Candidate Kevin Storrie attached this explanation to his disclosure explaining why BC’s Family Maintenance Enforcement Program is listed as one of his creditors

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.

Candidate Fred Statham explains his liabilities

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.

Ian Thorpe
Incumbent candidate Ian Thorpe failed to mention he gets paid as a councillor and regional district director

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.

Property interests

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.

Don Hubbard shares

All of the financial disclosure forms are embedded below and you can also view a spreadsheet summary of the data compiled by Tod Maffin.

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  • Welcome back Dominic! I missed your weekly reporting of turmoil at City Hall. An almost complete turnover of City Councillors would be welcomed by many of us taxpayers. The existing Councillors guilty of betraying our trust should either resign or not even consider running in the upcoming civic election and ‘get out of Dodge’.

  • Why are so many of the forms left with so many blanks. And what does N/A mean. Not available? Not applicable? Is that a proper disclosure? A lot of these folks don’t show any income at all. What the heck are they living on? Hot air? Who ensures the completeness and accuracy of these disclosures? What a dumb system this is. Nonetheless the forms did help me to make some decisions.

    • In many cases, blanks or N/A might be the most accurate answer. No shares, no debts, pension income, no second property in the district and not a business owner means a blank form.

      • OK Thanks for clarifying Dominic. Your efforts are much appreciated. I think though that there are several omissions and I wonder if these should be sworn statements.

  • With Nanaimo’s municipal election only six weeks away, there are some important issues to reflect upon. Voter turnout is historically low for municipal elections and this allows for municipal council dysfunction. Let us recall the multiplex ice rink fiasco to the tune of 60 million dollars – cancelled by the voters. Moreover, let us recall the horror show with over-paid executive employees who seemed to be more focused on themselves than the citizens of Nanaimo – I believe hired by the group of five??? Let us recall how our property taxes have sky rocketed over the last 13 years. Can one see improved services??? Let us recall the block of five councilors who appeared to vote together on issues important to them and not necessarily the voters of Nanaimo. Consequently, we, the voters, deserve a dysfunctional council if we do not become proactive. Let’s all make a decision to exercise out right to vote in October to elect a set of new councilors who have no baggage but only a desire to meet the needs of the voters of Nanaimo!

  • I am doubtful about the use of trying to make the personal finances of candidates an election issue. A person can disclose no debts and have a barrell of cash and assets, but be a total washout on council. A bankrupt struggling in poverty may bring to the council table insight and ability that is badly needed to guide the city. The inference that a person who is poor and/or in debt can’t manage their own finances, and ergo can’t be trusted with fiscal decisions on council, is an unfair and inaccurrate generalization. This election is about a lot more than managing city coffers; it is our responsibility as voters to determine who candidates are as individuals – their views on various issues and not how much money they have, don’t have or owe. How they handle their own finances may be a starting point or one factor in our analysis, but at this point indicative of nothing about their overall qualifications to be elected. It’s this sort of reporting that makes people cynical about politics and reluctant to run for office.

    • If these facts were not issues in elections, there would be no law requiring that candidates complete these forms. In fact, politicians themselves deemed this information important enough to debate and adopt the Financial Disclosure Act in the Legislature.

      There are two core factors we need to assess in every candidate: Competence and Trustworthiness. This information adds to the mosaic of inputs that help us assess each candidate. When a candidate presents themselves to the public as one thing and acts differently in personal decisions, we learn something extremely important about who they really are. That information can be found in these documents for several candidates.

      • Some further considerations:
        – Relevance and context are everything.
        – As I see it, fiscal disclosure is more important to determine real or potential conflicts rather than as a qualification to sit on council.
        – The only other way I see this as relevant is if a candidate makes a claim contradicted by their disclosure. That’s either a lie or negligence and says much about character. Until then, disclosure tells us nothing about a candidate, except about potential conflicts.
        – Like technology that is created “just because we can,” is everything to be reported just because it’s publicly available? I don’t know, but it’s a moral question and a necessary debate in this time of “fake news”, i.e. lies based on fact but presented and distorted and said to be “true.”

      • I think you’ve identified some of the relevance but underestimated the value of the info or its importance.

        And you are wrong about the information being public. It was not public until it was published here. The city has not published this info. I obtained it by using my initiative on your behalf. You will not find it anywhere else. But if you don’t want it, move on and ignore it.

        I have hardly touched on the true utility of the info in this piece as my priority was to publish these disclosures as they have not been made public anywhere else.

    • Problem is, it’s such a small part of the “mosaic of inputs” – and so lacking in context – that it’s use at this point is negligible. This has a tone of poor bashing and fiscal prurience – as if only the rich and debt free are qualified to make decisions for the community.

      • Ya, not seeing it Dominic. Aside from getting a scoop, you have offered no real justification for putting on your blog information that has high interest but little utility in the democratic process. If it was truly relevant and valuable, you would defend it as such instead of saying to ignore and move on if I don’t like it. And the moral question still applies, whether public or not: Just because we can, should we?
        (And please don’t take this as an attack. You do and have done great work. Just happen to disagree in this instance).

      • I suppose then that you disagree with the B.C. Legislature and people like Leonard Krog who voted to require that this information be collected and be made available to the public. They had good reasons, I think.

        As for your critique of my choices of what to highlight in this piece, I consider that fair criticism and always will take it on board and reflect on it. I have explained that my main objective was to make this information available and give some insight into what one might glean from it. You disagree that it has much utility for people making decisions and I think they ignore it at risk of being duped. We can agree to disagree on that.

  • As I said, it’s about relevance and context – and intention. The intention of the B.C. Legislature was transparency around conflicts. How the information is used, or abused, is up to us.
    I say it’s an abuse to release it lacking context. Some candidates are a lot more than the way their financial disclosures look – and some a lot less. You say your intention is to give voters information not readily available to them. But the way you’ve framed this information is to infer that candidates owing hefty loans and/or generally lacking in income may not be qualified to make fiscal decisions.
    As such you do voters and candidates a great disservice. On the outgoing council are people in strong financial shape who utterly failed the city. And there are likely people at (Discon)Tent City on Port Drive who could have done a better job than some outgoing councillors. The time to pull this data out was: a. when it was clear there was a real or potential conflict; b. when the fiscal situation of a candidate became an issue.
    Again, the moral question of how we handle information. The responsibilty lies as much with those who disclose it as those who receive it. In this case I maintain that disclosing it was not in the public interest since there was no compelling or reasonable reason to do so. And to repeat, just because we can (which is what your argument amounts to) does not equate to compelling or reasonable.

    • OK, so I think you are pissed that someone looks bad in this story, because there’s really no other reason I can think of for why you don’t want this information public. Context? There’s an election and this info gives insight into who is running.

      • No, not affilliated with or in support of any candidate.
        Just think this coverage fails to provide an accurate or full picture of all the candidates and creates bias. A candidate who owes money or is on a limited income is not necessarily unfit for office.

      • And I did not say I did not want this information public. My point is about the intention of making it public. Doing so as a way of saying someone poor or in debt should not be elected is wrong. The time to release it is in context: when a candidate’s fiscal situation creates a pereption of conflict or incompetence. Hanging it all out without a compelling reason and hoping it becomes an issue creates cynicism about the journalstic process. And is just blatantly infair to candidates who are not well heeled. As I said earlier, it amounts to poor bashing.

      • So there’s your bias — you think that I am saying that if you are poor you aren’t fit for office. I didn’t and I am just as mindful of the fact that for a lot of voters someone who owns a lot of assets is unattractive. It cuts both ways.

        Finally, please read the Act. This information is specifically required to be made public for nominees for election, before they can be put in conflict positions on a governing body.

      • No, you did not say that. But the way you are (ab)using the information amounts to the same thing. The Act is designed to prevent abuses by elected officials, not facilitate journalistic ones.

      • You are wrong. The Act is designed to provide important financial details about both candidates for office and elected officials. So your argument that it’s only relevant when there is a conflict is nonsense. It is revealing information about a number of things, including competence, motive, honesty, diligence, transparency.

        Reflecting on your input, I see it as based on a personal bias rather than any ethical concern.

  • No Dominic, I’ve got no skin in this game (i.e. the election) so it’s not personal. While we disagree on this, I continue to respect your work. And we’ve never met, and you’ve never written anything effecting me, so it’s not personal animus either. I’ve made my points, we know where each other stand. But my argument is in fact based on the ethical concerns that I’ve outlined above. Could it be that a disagreement could arise out of philosophical considerations, and not from a biased political agenda? Say it ain’t so.

    • That’s what I meant. You have a personal philosophical bias. You are sympathetic to the poor and have an issue with those who are wealthy. For me, it has nothing to do with wealth but rather competence and motive. Wealthy people are incompetent and dishonest, too. Some people will not vote for them because they have wealth.

      To me, this information provides enormous insight into who many of these candidates are, their values, their diligence, their experiences, their honesty and on and on.

      • If you think these financial statements provide us with the experiences, values, diligence and honesty of the candidates, I have some Florida property to sell you. In fact, now that you’ve revealed all, let’s not wait for Oct. 20 for the election. Since we now have all we need to know about the candidates, let’s vote this week and save time and expense.
        It’s the way you structure the data, not my bias, that leads to my conclusion of “poor bashing.” The way your blog post reads, the inference remains that those with hefty debts and sketchy income statements are not qualified to make fiscal municipal decisions, and therefore should not be elected. It takes a lot more than that to determine if someone is fit for office.
        Needlessly and thoughtlessly exposing candidate finances without reason or context does not enhance election debate or democracy.

      • Do you feel that you haven’t made your point, or do you just have to browbeat people to think how you do?

        Someone who has made poor financial decisions in their own life that leads them to default on their debts might not be someone you want to trust with the city’s $180 million budget. It has nothing to do with whether they are poor or rich. Either can make poor financial decisions and default on their debts. Look at Trump. Most of us live up to our commitments, regardless of how much money we have.

        Someone who describes their creditors using non-legal names that make it look like they are normal lenders when they are actually collection agencies has even more explaining to do.

        Someone who is clearly just looking at council as a source of income or a job is thinking about themselves. However, the position is one of trust that requires them to consider only the interests of the community. Their self-interest conflicts with the public interest.

        That you can’t see these things is telling. It’s because you have an ideological axe to grind, which, if you were a journalist, would cloud your judgment and be a disservice to your readers. You’d be ignoring valuable information because of a bias. I am just providing information to inform the voting public.

  • The comments by the writer are very misleading. I have two accounts that are in dispute and the amounts in question are well under 2,000.00. Nothing I can do about FMEP until they remove this from my credit record. Once again, through twisting facts, the writer tries to muddy the waters. By law we are required to report any outstanding amounts. Including items that are in dispute. When the writer lowers himself to this type of writing, one can only question his abilities. He has quite often written false things about me. I have on more than once asked to meet him face to face and he hasn’t the courage to meet the person he slanders face to face. As a reporter he should stick to writing for tabloids.

    • The facts in the article are drawn directly from your own disclosure document that I have also published with the story. Anyone can verify the information. What facts were twisted? What false things have been written about you Mr. Storrie, and please be specific? What would you like to meet about?

      One can tell a lot about a politician by how they respond to media scrutiny. I stand by the story.

      • Good on those who frankly stated financials good or in a bit of debt you’ve certainly shown that you are far more upfront and candid than some key city staff were by miles. Had you just posted bare facts, and not used this data for attack on anyone specific, or had you asked for comment rather than editorializing due to your personal take on very a very capable candidate( Earlier quote from you this campaign, “I dont trust you.” ) it I dont think there would be an issue Dominick. The slant was obvious, and that is when such information begins to look like attack due to personally “not trusting” people who, if you met them are quite an open book. And despite the invitation you dont care to meet with Kevin. Appears to me though you do not care for other people you aim against, you do believe the gossip they spread about Kevin last year and therefore have your mind made up. Its unfortunate for you because documentation is available that makes the bit of money he owes quite logical and faultless. If you were aware of the facts you’d be more curious about why a group worked so hard to smear Kevin, and less concerned about his character. But you are who you are so fill your boots. As you will. Attack onward.

    • My understanding is that we all do. And if there are issues, we have until 4:00pm Tuesday to apply to the Provincial Court to have them ordered invalid.

  • I read with interest the back and forth between Dominic Jones and the reader called Louis. I absolutely agree with Dominic’s assessment that “there are two core factors we need to assess in every candidate: Competence and Trustworthiness.” He also says “Someone who has made poor financial decisions in their own life that leads them to default on their debts might not be someone you want to trust with the city’s $180 million budget.” This remark speaks to the competence factor. I would like to know that we have on Council people who are at least competent in the finance department – how they conduct their personal finances hopefully foreshadows their conduct with taxpayer’s finances. For me that’s where the “trustworthiness” factor comes in. Hopefully, the financially savvy individual is also honest in his obligation to taxpayers – no guarantees there of course. And one more thing, without any reference to a person’s income or debt, I would personally like to elect a councilor who possesses the ability to FILL OUT A FORM CORRECTLY. For that reason alone, I think this information is valuable. The publication of these disclosure forms obviously does not tell the whole story of any candidate and that is up to us as voters to investigate, but it’s definitely one piece of the puzzle.

    • Unfortunately, the form itself, or rather the requirements of the Financial Disclosure Act are lacking. For instance, candidates who receive income from their own businesses don’t have to disclose where those businesses get their revenue from. I would like to see a requirement that they disclose any entities which account for 10% or more of their revenues. However, there are issues with that, such as patient confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege.

      • i would just like to say on oct 2nd, after reading the exchange between dominic and louis – i appreciated what both of them had to say and felt i benefited from reading the exchange.. kudos to both of you for letting the conversation happen.

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