Nelson graphic artist Brian Shields is the seventh new candidate for Nelson city council. The 61-year-old would like to see taxation halted, safety in the community addressed and new sustainability methods explored if he successfully wins a seat in the upcoming municipal election.
“I felt a need to serve the people of Nelson,” said Shields, who has also worked in New Westminster, Central Saanich and Coquitlam. He served for one year as Nelson’s manager of operations in 2009.
“I’m excited to serve the public in a new way. I have the enthusiasm, the honesty and a strong work ethic. I’m a consensus builder and I value all points of view.”
Shields lives with his wife, mother-in-law and his small dog. He spends a lot of time gardening and working on his art, as well as overseeing his fire safety business.
“Working in municipal government prepared me well for most aspects of city council duty. I have experience in the fields of environment, engineering and risk management. I want to protect our great city. Nelson needs leadership and I am a leader,” he said.
Shields joins incumbent council members Robin Cherbo and Bob Adams, as well as new candidates Valerie Warmington, Anna Purcell, Jason Peil, Charles Jeanes, Michael Dailly and John Paolozzi. Meanwhile, councillor Deb Kozak, Mayor John Dooley and retired cop Pat Severyn are in a three-way race for mayor.
Shields believes that current taxes are putting a strain on residents’ incomes. He said a core review should be conducted to ensure that services are being provided properly and efficiently. He believes the city has some room for belt-tightening.
“In some cases, I would question their decision-making process. Like making Hall Street a walking promenade when it’s about the same elevation as Mount Everest. I don’t think that was a wise call. I would say we’re going to have to take another look at it.”
Shields believes the Stores to Shores project money could be better spent elsewhere.
“Any time you take on a job of that size you tend to relocate other energies from the city. The amount of money that will take to pave that roadway will come out of the paving budget, so other roads that need to be maintained or upgraded might not get done.”
He said he would support development that is pursued in a “slow, phased manner” and a “sustainable way”. But it will also have to take into account his views on climate change, which are extensive.
Shields plans to share a detailed paper on climate change at the first all candidate’s meeting that will outline his views. He said it’s crucial that council protects its natural assets, including the 5-Mile Creek watershed, which is the primary source of water in the area.
“Nelson is in a unique geographical situation. Water above us and water below us. Water is the blood of the earth, and it needs to be protected. Not only do we drink it, it also generates energy and sanitary services. It supports agriculture.”
Shields said the water could be used to help grow crops.
“As the bread baskets of North America dry up and we can’t get traditional foods, we’re going to have to start growing more food locally.”
Shields believes Nelson could partner with the regional district and surrounding communities to create a more sustainable community.
“It’s really a unique opportunity we have, with us generating our own energy and electricity. If we were to find a few alternative energy sources, we would be able to have the city of Nelson be sustainable,” he said.
Shields doesn’t agree with the dog ban downtown, and would like to see it overturned. He said he’s on board with the decriminalization of marijuana, but believes there still needs to be controls in place.
“Nobody should go to jail for smoking a joint or growing a plant. If you look at all the people in jail and all the money it costs our community, I think we can focus on better things,” he said.
He is concerned about minors consuming the substance, though, and said stoned driving needs to be addressed.
Shields said he appreciates the small-town feel of the community, and appreciates that “kids can still play in their front yard and feel secure, just like when I was growing up. I don’t even lock my car.”
He said during his first day in Nelson he witnessed a young boy accompany another boy away from the edge of the sidewalk, to keep him away from traffic.
“That’s one of the dynamics we have in Nelson. We look after each other, and that’s what I want to do too,” he said.
The election is on November 15.