The following six profiles are the third 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, and here for the second.
Rik Logtenberg is the CEO of Timely, which provides calendars for websites. He has lived in Nelson since 2001 and says his experience as an entrepreneur will benefit him as a city councillor.
“Our job is to run toward problems, because as an entrepreneur that’s where the opportunities are.”
Logtenberg said he was compelled to run for council out of concern for climate change and, with respect to Nelson, wildfires.
“A longer summer season really compromises our water supply, not to mention the prospect of landslides from extended rainfall, which with a slower and more erratic jet stream, these serious, significant weather events are inevitable,” he said.
“I think with Nelson at the top of the list for wildfire risk, I can’t handle that. I definitely need to do something.”
Logtenberg wants to help voice Nelson’s climate change needs on a provincial and federal level at events such as the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual meeting, and that wildfire mitigation can be part of Nelson’s identity and branding.
“We’re a city that’s at risk, but we’re not sitting on the sidelines. We’re diving in and we’re making it a priority. We’re bringing in the stakeholders, we’re really leaning on this,” he said. “What that does is it draws attention from the province and the feds, but it also draws attention from private investors potentially to help us build an industry around climate mitigation.”
The expertise and strategies developed in Nelson, he said, could then be used to help communities around the world.
Logtenberg said he also wants a greater emphasis placed on communication. He thinks councillors should start learning how to use video and social media, and to start thinking outside the box in how they connect with residents.
“’City Councillor 101’ is how to be a better communicator,” he said.
Leslie Payne has lived in Nelson for six years. During that time she has volunteered for several organizations, including Kootenay Seniors, the West Kootenay EcoSociety and the SPCA, as well as on events such as the Pride Parade, Community Connect Day and Coldest Night of the Year.
Payne says she thinks now is the time to bring her volunteer experience to city council.
“I’m at a time and a place in my life where I can put the experience and energy that I have to work to protect the vision I think many people have of Nelson, that cosmopolitan small-town feeling.”
Affordable housing tops Payne’s priorities for council. She thinks the city can do a better job making it easier for groups such as Nelson CARES to find funding and land for projects.
“There’s a lot of ways that they can facilitate solutions in that area,” said Payne. “The city does have a land inventory, there’s money at provincial and federal levels and groups here in town that can take advantage of that money with the city assisting them and partnering with them and supporting them.”
Payne also wants further focus placed on Nelson’s water supply and delivery, especially during dry months, and improved communication to residents about how limited the supply may be.
She is also a supporter of local cannabis producers, whom she wants protected after the Oct. 17 legalization. On Tuesday, city council voted to extend local medical dispensaries’ business licences through the end of the year.
“That’s another economic opportunity I hope we’re going to be able to capitalize on by supporting those businesses,” she said. “The city’s been pretty forward thinking on that, and I think we need to pursue that.”
Cal Renwick is a recently retired entrepreneur who has owned and run a number of car dealerships in Nelson, most recently Nelson Toyota. He was also one of the principal owners of the Nelson Brewing Company until 2016 and is currently on the board of the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce.
He says the incident that triggered his run for council was the death of Matt Reeder on a Baker Street sidewalk in June. Miles Halverson is still in custody awaiting a court date to enter a plea on charges in Reeder’s death, including manslaughter.
Reeder and Halverson were part of what some call Nelson’s street culture.
Renwick wants to impose a panhandling bylaw for Nelson, similar to one that failed to pass a city council vote in the summer of 2016.
“We need to give the police a proper bylaw — tools they need to curb some of the negativity and some of the illegal activities.”
Renwick says the previous two councils have lacked the representation of a business perspective.
“A business person brings a different view to the table, and I am not saying the city needs to run like a business because I appreciate that you cannot run a government like a business. It is difficult to get business people to step up and now that I am retired, I want to do that.”
Renwick says he is concerned about Nelson’s water supply and wants the city to increase the size of the reservoir.
“I am not an expert, but as I understand it we don’t have a water supply problem, we have a water storage problem.”
He also wants the city to explore ways to decrease parking congestion, including the possibility of providing a shuttle or a park-and-ride system from the outskirts for people who work downtown. He said although parking garages cost about $50,000 per stall to build, the possibility should be explored as a long-term investment.
Brian Shields has lived in Nelson for 10 years. In 2010, he retired from a job as operations manager at the City of Nelson, where he worked for 18 months. He has served in public works for 30 years in various parts of B.C. He ran unsuccessfully for council in the 2014 election.
Shields thinks council should donate land to a developer with a legal proviso that the developer would build low-cost housing on it.
“I have heard council say we don’t have land. We do have land. Kitty-corner from Nelson Ford they own three houses there at the foot of the bank, and at the bottom of Cedar Street they own four city lots there.”
He says he wants to see council achieve a more well-rounded representation of the community so that it includes low-income people.
“Their lot in life cannot be overlooked, and as we look at the issues we should look from the bottom up to help the needy first and work our way up.”
Shields says the city hires too many consultants, although he was not able to say how much is spent each year on this.
“We pay consultants to tell us what we already know. That is dereliction of duty for the senior managers who are paid fairly to do their job, and it is well within their abilities to consult with the community and come up with the answers that we pay others to supply.”
In general, he says the city should rely more on the expertise of its own staff and he cited infrastructure renewal that has been done using city work crews.
“We use the knowledgeable workers we have on staff, instead of contracting it out, working in a concerted fashion together, getting twice as much work done at half the price. The workers on the ground are the best source of information.”
Shields also wants the city to return to trapping skunks, drilling wells in the area of the city reservoir to see if there is water there to reinforce the supply and fixing pot holes promptly.
Margaret Stacey previously served on city council from 2005 to 2011. She was part of planning initiatives such as the Path to 2040 Sustainability Strategy, the regional recreation master plan and helped the city plan its ongoing infrastructure upgrades to water mains.
She said she approves of the job that council has done and wants to return to see through the work she helped start.
“I was there for the incubation and birth of these initiatives. I can provide a breadth of experience and support and collaborate with the new stuff that’s coming forward and the new people. But I really want to see all this come to fruition and be refined and tweaked as it needs to be.”
Stacey said she is enthusiastic about the city hiring Nelson Fire and Rescue chief Len MacCharles to develop a municipal emergency management centre, and that wildfire mitigation should be a priority for council.
Stacey also wants the city to focus on transport and shipping needs.
“Greyhound has failed us, and rail doesn’t take much of our stuff anywhere. Air is limited in Nelson to what’s at the airport now, which could be so much more.
“I think we need to have a long, hard look at how we get people and things in and out of here… I think that’s going to be a pretty big future challenge.”
Stacey said she wants the city to review the Norman Stibbs Airfield and consider expanding it. “It’s underused in so many ways, or its revenue is not maximized.”
Stephanie Wiggins grew up in Nelson and works as an early childhood educator.
She says she wants to “bring fresh eyes and new perspective as a young person,” adding that she is “part of an underrepresented group: people who are making less than $35,000 per year.”
She is also part of another unrepresented group, she says.
“I am part of the queer community, and there are a few running this time around. I don’t think Nelson is an unwelcoming place for people that are part of the pride community, but it is a perspective that should be represented on council.”
She said she is aware that there are differing opinions on the duties of municipal government versus senior levels of government regarding housing.
“Affordable housing is something we need. I am fortunate enough to live in affordable housing in Rosemont through Nelson CARES, but for a family unit there is an astronomical waiting list [of] two or three years.
“I want to see subsidized housing available to young families.”
Wiggins said she wants the city to remove barriers to the construction of such housing by rezoning city-owned property and selling it “at a loss for the city but a gain for people who really in need.” She also wants to see the cost of various permits and fees lowered for subsidized housing.
Wiggins said forest fire mitigation is a priority for her. She also wants the city to be more flexible in making parks, particularly Lakeside, open to more events, such as music festivals.