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PART 2: Nelson council candidate profiles

Second of a series on the 19 people running for city council

The following six profiles are the second of a three-part series on the 19 people running for Nelson council. See photos of all six below the story. Click here for the first part of the series.

Robin Cherbo

Cherbo was first elected to council in 2005 and has served four terms.

Asked about his personal accomplishments on council, he began with, “I have managed to get a parking spot removed as you approach the crosswalk by the library and the government building so you can see people if they are coming out across the crosswalk, and I have made other suggestions about road improvements, and getting crosswalks painted that were not painted before.”

He said he has been involved in the city’s planning, mentioning specifically the Path to 2040, Railtown, and the strategic plans.

“Since I got elected I have been pushing for a clean air bylaw. At first it was a no smoking bylaw, so the clean air bylaw we finally got to deal with on the next council priority list. Now it is developed and we have added no vaping and no cannabis smoking where all the no smoking areas are.”

Cherbo says plans for revitalizing Baker Street are a priority for him.

“The businesses are saying why do it now, but the infrastructure under Baker is almost 100 years old and we can’t wait for it to fail.”

He also thinks the buildings downtown need to be spruced up “like in the 1980s, upgrade, clean, and make sure nothing is deteriorating, fix up the marble structures. There have been people doing things to buildings that I don’t think they should have been allowed to do, taking away that heritage value. They put a doorway in one building and trimmed off some of the original marble and lettering.”

Cherbo also said the city should hire an additional bylaw officer, and that Nelson’s boulevards need improvement.

“I know I will get pushback from the naturalists, but we should put Astroturf on the boulevard between the credit union and the post office. That is not going to maintain any grass and it looks ugly. Astroturf is expensive but it lasts a long time.”

Travis Hauck

Hauck has lived in Nelson since 1999 and since 2000 has worked at Gerick Cycle and Ski. He volunteers for recreational organizations such as the Fat Tire Festival, the Nelson Nordic Ski Club and the Pulpit Rock run.

Hauck thinks the city should hire an event planner to bring people to town in the shoulder season when there is less tourism.

“There are bigger issues like fire, water, Baker Street, parking, and those issues are going to get dealt with, but I am trying to talk about the more fun ideas right now because the major issues are going to get dealt with.”

He said he is not critical of the current council because “I don’t honestly have a ton of knowledge about that, regarding what the council have not done.”

Hauck said he did not have specific examples of events the event planner would organize, but mentioned that “we could bring back the triathlon, or have events like the Spartan Race or Tough Mudder.”

He said the purpose would be to “make our city a little more exciting, give opportunities to younger people, and create a good feel for the community.”

Volunteers tend to burn out quickly, he says, and the event planner job would relieve some of their workload.

Michelle Hillaby

Hillaby is a dental sales representative who has lived in Nelson for six years.

She said her interest in running for council was prompted by the city’s controversial decision to cap Nelson Baseball’s hours at Lions Park. She acknowledged the group’s previous agreement with the city needed to be honoured, but believes more should have been done to accommodate the organization.

“It just didn’t need to happen and it was lots of bad feelings for no reason,” said Hillaby. “It felt like just some education and it should have been fine.”

Hillaby says city maintenance, civic pride and downtown panhandling are her chief concerns.

She thinks the city’s welcome signs need refreshing, wants more emphasis placed on keeping grass cut and said the lack of Christmas lights on Baker Street should have been previously addressed. The city has already said it plans to have lights this year.

Hillaby said she has also researched other municipalities and come up with ideas to address panhandling concerns on Baker. She wants council to consider restricting panhandling on the street, or to specify certain times and places it can be done.

She also wants to start a campaign she calls Make Change Not Change, in which slot boxes are installed on Baker Street. Donations made to the boxes will go directly to local mental health organizations or food banks. The city, she said, can also work harder to find civic jobs for people looking for employment.

“We care, we all care. Nobody wants anybody to be living on the street. But if we take away their ability to panhandle on Baker Street then I think we need to have an alternative.”

Charles Jeanes

Jeanes is a semi-retired security guard who has lived in Nelson since 1987.

Jeanes, who is entering his eighth campaign for city council and is still looking for his first win, called himself a socialist who prioritizes the redistribution of wealth.

“Everything that we’re going to talk about in this campaign are problems that are tied to a price tag,” said Jeanes. “Infrastructure, social problems, housing, anything you can think of, it requires the spending of money to make the thing manageable, to resolve a problem. I would just want to say to voters to think about that, that the money is not scarce, it’s just not in the right places.”

Jeanes said if elected he would want to bring local landlords and employers together to talk about the need to raise wages and lower rents. He conceded it may be unrealistic to expect change with this approach.

“I’m quite depressed to hear stories about people with rents they can’t really carry and how much they have to forego because they are paying rents beyond their earnings.”

He said he approves of the city’s laneway housing strategy and plans to advocate for more small housing in the city. But Jeanes is also skeptical that affordable housing is a priority for the city.

“It stays in my mind just how much we talked about it in the last campaign four years ago, how it did present itself as a front-burner issue. But as I’ve seen in so many campaigns I’ve been in, campaigns are one thing, and the day-to-day political life of Nelson is something else. …

“I’m saying maybe if Nelson paid more attention, every citizen of Nelson of voting age paid attention to what’s going on on an issue like affordable housing, something would get done.”

Jeanes also describes himself as a history buff and would like more historical signage installed at Nelson’s cemetery.

Janice Morrison

Morrison is on the current council and was also on council from 1999 to 2002. She works as a physical therapist at Kootenay Lake Hospital and runs a bed and breakfast in the city. She has served as the chair of the advisory planning council and Chamber of Commerce.

“I am really keen on financial management,” she says. “It is important that we maintain and protect our city assets and we have to have some really forward thinking planning on the costs.”

She said she wants to be around for the completion of the Hall Street project, the Nelson CARES housing project on Nelson Avenue, the planned housing development by Kootenay Christian Fellowship, and the recently proposed housing projects at 205 Hall St. and 661 Vernon St.

“There is a lot going on, and we have to make sure we have a steady hand.”

She said council has been successful in the past four years in getting grants to do infrastructure projects.

“We developed a new water plan and we have to look at how we implement that. We have to evaluate the costs, make sure we have grants in place. It’s a big project.

“And I am fully in favour of developing our own emergency plan. That is in the start-up phase and we have been lucky so far to get funding to start that.”

She said the current council has been effective in the area of housing by bringing in regulatory changes to laneway housing and short-term rentals, and has done a good job of creating a framework for recreational cannabis when it is legalized. She said her experience as a business person and in health care has contributed to this.

Morrison also said she wants to encourage the convergence of arts, culture, and the tech sector in Nelson.

Jesse Woodward

Woodward grew up in Winlaw and has lived in Nelson for the last eight years. He has worked as the markets and events director at the West Kootenay EcoSociety for seven years, and is in charge of events such as the downtown and Cottonwood Falls markets as well as MarketFest.

Co-ordinating those events, he said, is similar to the duties of a city councillor.

“I’ve been working with many stakeholders in the city,” said Woodward. “Police, fire, lots of connections in those areas. I feel like the city job is just a much larger version of what I’ve already been doing in terms of management. Also, this is my hometown, and I want to give back and I want to help to make this the best city it can be.”

Woodward said his top issue is the need for wildfire mitigation around Nelson. He wants more communication between the city and private land owners about the need for fire breaks and fuel removal.

“This town, we’re No. 1 in terms of fire risk. That’s something we’ve got to deal with right now. I know the fire department is working on those plans and I want to help move that along.”

Woodward also wants more investment made in the Nelson Street Outreach team, and to help facilitate communication between the business community and downtown residents.

The city, he said, needs an overall better communications plan.

“I think there’s a misconception about how much power City Hall actually has. So I’d really like to get that communication out to let people know what we can actually do and what we can’t do, so there’s less confusion and less rumour.”

Robin Cherbo
Janice Morrison
Travis Hauck
Michelle Hillaby
Jesse Woodward
Charles Jeanes