Ode to Nelson’s Baker Street
I confess — I’m not a shopper. Or at least not a willing one. I think this results from growing up in an Eaton’s family; my dad was assistant manager at the store in Moose Jaw. Loyalty (and a generous discount, I presume) limited my family’s shopping to the beautiful Eaton’s store, from the groceteria in the basement to three floors offering everything you could want.
Hence, my shopping choices were limited, and I never really learned to love beating the pavement, finding great deals, and being soothed by retail therapy. Quite the opposite, usually!
This past Saturday, though, I spent five hours wandering Baker Street during Customer Appreciation Day. Although my shopping bag was not unbearably heavy by the end, my heart was definitely full.
How fun to meander from store to store. Each one had its own unique atmosphere and products, but what they had in common was smiles, music, wonderful seasonal smells and lots of people shopping and chatting.
Contrast that with Black Friday south of the border — where people line up for hours and hours, then frantically push and shove, and even get into fights just to get that low, low price. That really doesn’t appeal to me! And apparently, not to lots of Nelson folks either.
I heard many people talking about the pleasure of shopping in Nelson. I thoroughly enjoyed bumping into people who I don’t usually see, and exchanging a few words of appreciation for our great fortune in living where we do.
Council recently had a breakfast meeting with Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce directors, and they told us that some retailers had complained about not seeing council members in their stores. The inference was, I guess, that we go elsewhere to shop.
I plead not guilty to that one! The truth is, I just don’t shop that much. And, another Eaton’s lesson, I buy quality products to last (so I don’t have to go shopping again!).
The future holds so much uncertainty that the notion of building local self-reliance is increasingly compelling. We want retailers, food producers and processors, craftspeople, and professional services to be here for us in the future. That means we have to, in the old adage, use ‘em or lose ‘em.
Our downtown, Baker Street and environs, is our community heart, and it’s very exciting to see the planning for Downtown Revitalization No. 2. The work done and investment made in the 1980s paid major dividends; now it’s time to freshen up and ensure our downtown’s future viability (as a complement to the mall). The two committees working on the implementation of the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan have important work ahead.
The role of arts, culture and heritage is central in DR2. I know some people are concerned that the City is abandoning heritage, but that’s just not true. What’s changing is how we manage, preserve and celebrate heritage and its central role in our future.
The newly constituted Cultural Development Committee has strong members who are excited about developing the responsibility for heritage that is part of our new mandate. The CDC will not be involved in regulating heritage (staff will do that, guided by design guidelines and professional advice as needed), but will support the promotion and protection of heritage values and resources. We’re still finalizing our plans for the next three years, including our heritage work, and by January we should be underway.
I’m definitely looking forward to a holiday break, because January will bring intensive budget discussions and decisions. Always challenging, but I’d say Nelson is in far better shape than many smaller municipalities. We’ve done good planning and it’s paying off.
This will be my last column for 2012, so I’d like to say thank you for the opportunity to serve our community. And I’d also like to wish you a magical, safe and loving holiday season.
Remember that sharing good fortune makes it even richer.
Donna Macdonald is a Nelson city councillor who shares this Wednesday space with her colleagues around the table