There was standing room only in the Central School gym Tuesday night as the candidates for city council gathered on the stage to answer three questions. They were given 1.5 minutes for each question.
Eighteen council candidates and two mayoral candidates were asked to state why they were running; what they think the two or three most important issues facing Nelson are; and how Nelson can provide services to vulnerable people to access such things as housing, recreation, transit, and childcare.
Mayoral candidate Bernie Brown and council candidate Michelle Hillaby did not attend, nor did councillor Bob Adams because of a family matter.
Here are brief summaries of the candidates’ answers to the question about the main issues facing the city. The candidates are presented here in the same randomized order of their speeches at the forum.
Top issue: Climate change.
Logtenberg said he wants to work locally to prevent a Fort McMurray fire situation in Nelson.
He said the latest expert report said we have 12 years to turn the effects of climate change around, and that it is a local problem as well as a global one, if we want to avoid a situation like Fort McMurray.
“I understand that we have some (other) really pressing issues here that are important and I want to give my heart to help solve them. As a software developer and an entrepreneur I have so many ideas and in talking to these wonderful people (gesturing toward the other candidates) I have heard so many more, and by talking to people in town, I have heard even more, so I would like to bring them together and work with you.”
Top issues: wildfire mitigation, affordable housing, arts and culture
Barker said we need a fire break around the city.
She said she wants to support arts and culture because it brings in visitors and she said homelessness is an issue
“We were at a talk last week about youth homelessness and about how if youth are not connected to housing really early then they may face homelessness forever.”
Top issues: wildfire mitigation
Hauck said there is too much dry fuel in places like West Arm Park, and he sees this when mountain biking.
“In those mountains there are a lot of dead trees that are laying on the ground, fuel for a strike of lightening to start burning our West Arm Park, it looks like toothpicks just laying out all over the ground.
“There are other issues to deal with and we will handle them and all come to the table.”
Adams sent in written answers to the forum’s questions.
Top issues: replacement and repair of city services: water, sewer, streets, sidewalks, storm sewers, some of which are close to 100 years old.
Top issue: distribution of wealth
Jeanes said climate change is a product of the capitalist system of unequal wealth distribution. He called for greater citizen engagement in politics.
“You are here tonight, that’s great, you are paying attention to politics during the campaign, but what do you do between campaigns? These (candidates) are coming to your door now, but they won’t be between now and next election. You better come to them and show them what they said, and hold them accountable.”
Top issues: water supply, forest protection, utilities
Shields said the city should drill for water in the area of the reservoir because when he worked for the city, this worked in the area of the cemetery. The forest in in West Arm Park needs protection.
“I want so share Bob Adams’ love of the utilities that make it all work, the water, sewer, storm sewer, sidewalks. I hear a lot of complaints from people about potholes and skunks and weekly garbage pickup.”
Top issues: housing affordability, climate change
Homelessness is a housing affordability problem, so work regionally and with provincial and federal governments to look for ways to create more units.
“In my business I practice open book accounting with my staff so that everybody has an opportunity to see the profit and loss, so they are empowered to make choices.”
He wants to operate the same way on council.
He said he has been publishing detailed responses to various city issues on his Facebook page.
Top issues: infrastructure, housing affordability, childcare affordability, climate change
Anderson wants to work to make sure all sources of infrastructure funding are accessed.
“There is a child-care crisis in our community. Now there is funding that is available for municipal governments to access childcare. We are not accessing that as far as I know.”
She said she has studied climate change extensively, and we need to act both as individuals and as governments.
Top issues: city communication with residents, water management, housing affordability.
Payne said she finds as she talks to voters that the city needs to find new ways to communicate what its key issues are. She said water is a component of the climate change issue and we need to protect is as we have more droughts and less snowpack. She said “homelessness stares us in the face every day” and programs are needed.
Top issues: Fire risk management planning, water resource management planning, homelessness.
Woodward said he has discovered that the city the the regional district are already working on fire risk management and we are not starting from scratch. The same is true of developing a new water source, he said. And many organizations in town are already working on housing and homelessness, and would want to build on that.
He wants the city to come up with new ways of communicating with the public.
Top issues: climate change and smoky skies
Wiggins agreed with Woodward, saying that there is work already underway regarding wildfire mitigation but she wants the city to look at community buildings’ filtration systems to make sure they are healthy during smoky summers. She said there is a childcare crisis in Nelson.
Top issues: housing and climate change
Stacey said there are more and more people wanting to move to Nelson and that our infrastructure needs to be equipped to handle this increase. She said there are high-tech answers to wildfire mitigation and climate change such as drones that will put out a fire with low frequency sound, and an example of a carbon capture plant in Squamish.
Top issues: to many highly paid managers, cleaning up the downtown.
Richichi wants to reduce the number of city managers and spend the money on infrastructure, arts, sports and housing, all as an alternative to annual tax increases.
“With cleaning up our downtown core, I hire two or three of those guys a day, they are awesome, mental health guys, tremendous. We are not talking about them, we are talking about the ones that urinate and defecate at our store fronts, break our windows and have a total lack of respect for our taxpayers.”
Top issues: infrastructure, water management, wildfire mitigation
“I would I would focus on roads, snow removal, making sure it happens promptly, water security, and build off all the things that have been happening in this community already.”
Kalabis said he wants to generate power with the water already flowing downhill in the water system and get the provincial government to manage wildfire fuel. He also said he would like to create pedestrian and cycling corridors in Nelson and encourage rural people to leave their cars on the outside of town.
Top issues: emergency preparedness, climate change, affordable housing
Regarding climate change, “we need to be a leader or model seeing nelson become a model for others to look to.”
Reiner said he is a tenant who has had to move many times due to riding housing costs and wants a solution to this.
He also advocated for job creation and support for small businesses.
Top issues: water management, wildfire mitigation.
“The majority of the time, the water overflows our reservoir, so it is not lack of water, is is lack of storage, so we are going to be building a new reservoir where an old one is in the uphill area.”
“We did wildfire mitigation along the Five Mile Creek pipeline a few years ago, and it took three ministries, the RDCK, and private landowners to agree to do it plus funding from the federal and provincial government, so that makes it difficult but they are possible to do.”
He said the city should continue the fire department’s program of providing FireSmart assessments to homeowners in the city. He also wants the city to advocate for regulations on private land logging
Renwick said he agrees with everything everyone had said so far.
”I am here to tell you I have read more in the last two months than in the rest of my life, it is overwhelming the number of things this city has to deal with. Many of the problems we have, we can do it with these people (gesturing to the audience). We need community. Everybody has to partake.”
He said the arts community is “near and dear to me.”
Top issues: wildfires, food security, homelessness, housing prices, climate change.
“With 148 building permits for a value of $28 million this year alone, we need to continue to implement the newly updated water master plan, to further the made in Nelson for Nelson emergency management plan. We need to look to green infra to help us adapt to urgent climate challenges.”
“We do have a water master plan now in its 11th year, we have an emergency plan, and are building a more robust one as we speak. We have a professional fire department and police department. These folks are capable of handling many of our emergency situations.”
“Our downtown core has been basically falling apart over the past few years. It is really difficult to go downtown and feel safe and comfortable and be respected. We need to work to sort out that situation downtown and bring the music back to Baker Street. We want to bring life and fun back to the central core.”
“I think what is important in our community is how we treat each other how we come together to deal with these issues. I have seen other cities that have become divided, have become disenfranchised, and not feel that they own their community. That is not what I am seeing here in Nelson. Nelson’s downtown is as vibrant as ever. We have record number of tourists coming here. We have a housing shortage because people want to live here. As a community we must come together and speak together about how we are going to deal with these issues in a compassionate and caring way because that is who we are.”