The Nelson Star contacted the 10 council candidates and asked them to answer four questions regarding the upcoming municipal election on November 15. We asked the candidates to limit their responses to 300 words.
The four questions are:
1. Why are you running?
2. How can the city help local businesses grow?
3. What are your feeling about development?
4. What do you feel is the biggest issue of this election?
1. I am running for city council so that I can give back to the community. The majority of my working career, 27 years, was with the City of Nelson as the director of works. Now that I’ve retired I feel that serving on council is a way to help the city continue to grow, prosper and move forward.
2. We can all help local businesses prosper and grow by shopping local. This includes the City of Nelson, which has a policy regarding this. It is one of my issues. The city could help new business owners by allowing them a one-year free license to get them up and running.
3. My feeling about development is that without it the city will not continue to be this wonderful place to live, work and raise your family. Without development the city will start to coast and the only way to coast is downhill, which I do not want to happen to Nelson.
Development that we encourage in Nelson should be green and environmentally friendly.
4. I feel that the biggest issue in this election is how we can keep future tax increases to a minimum while still providing our citizens what they require. All city departments will need to think the way they provide their services and investigate more efficient and less costly ways to complete their job duties.
1. I am running again because there are city council issues still outstanding, of which, I am interested in and/or concerned with. These are, in no particulate order, Path to 2040 sustainability, reducing city carbon footprint with city facilities and residential buildings, pedal bicycles routes through the city, and all the proposed developments. Also, the 2015 city budget and fire and rescue and city police negotiations, city sidewalks and road upgrades and the Downtown-Waterfront Master Plan implemen-tation of city street revisions in the downtown core.
2. The city already is helping businesses by having a Nelson Hydro contractor install broadband, along with electrical upgrades, in the downtown core. As well, we have the Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership, along with Invest Kootenay and Community Futures. All these organizations are doing a great job to promote and bring investment into Nelson and area.
3. There has been over four proposed development in the city limits. Most of them are challenging on issues such as road access and parking. Being in favor of ‘Nelson Commons’ in the downtown core, along with the Civic Theater success, future parking availability could be a concern. As well, the proposed traffic pattern changes with the Downtown Waterfront Master plan could also be an issue that needs further discussons. The rest of the proposed developments are challenging to acquire public approval, along with access, traffic flow and pedestrian safety concerns.
4. The issue in this election is a combination of wishes to have a fiscally dedicated, responsible, and transparent city council, to continue to strive towards affordable housing, green economic development and universal access to quality public health care services. As well as, continue to have a fiscally responsible, dedicated city police and fire and rescue service departments, to ensure a safe, friendly community to work recreate and raise families into the future.
1. I am running for council because I care about Nelson and the people who live here. I have experience, skills, and a willingness to serve. I believe I can contribute to Nelson becoming an even more sustainable and vibrant community.
2. Growing our local economy is about connecting, listening and working with the many small and medium size businesses that are currently operating in the Nelson area. Elected representatives must ensure that regulations, bureaucracy, tax rates and fees are supporting and encouraging economic development not impeding its progress. Monitoring timely maintenance of public areas, ensuring there is sufficient convenient and affordable parking, regulating traffic flow, encouraging walking and public transportation are just some of the many things that the city can do to help local businesses grow. Bylaws need to be designed and enforced in such a way that they welcome people to visit and do business in our City. To find out what more can be done to help local businesses grow, Council needs to build good relationships and work closely with our business associations.
3. Development needs to be designed in such a way that it preserves and adds to what is great about Nelson. Access, right of ways and pathways along our waterfront must be public and generous. Residential development needs to meet the housing requirements of people at all income levels not just the wealthy. Development must also follow the guidelines of Nelson’s Official Community Plan and our Path to 2040 Sustainability Strategy.
4. The biggest issue of this election is whether Nelson’s electorate opt for the status quo or vote for a change on city council. This decision will determine council’s approach and priorities regarding many issues including affordable housing, development projects, by-laws, variances and budget allocations.
1. To say what no one else will.
Food, housing, clean air and water, are human rights. The future demands different ideas about normal politics and economics, e.g., see Naomi Klein’s current book on capitalism and climate; study Charles Eisenstein’s ideas.
2. Stop growth. Re-localize the economy. The old paradigm of endless-growth capitalism is dying, killing the planet as it dies.
I would help only business that shatters past norms, and serves the goal of local production and consumption and wealth re-distribution. More green energy sources and food production (e.g. vertical agriculture) become priorities.
3. (See No. 2) Development — as we’ve known it — must end. Discourage in-migration. Stop adding population to Nelson. Plant more trees. Close Baker Street to vehicles. Stop paving most streets, use these savings for micro-loans to localized green businesses.
4. As above, plus, disparity of wealth is a looming issue. What can the city do? Tax the richest to feed and house the poorest; but city governments lack authority to raise taxes on wealth or raise corporate tax rates of BC or Canada. The social problems of capitalism cannot be solved by Nelsonites alone, but the City of Nelson can re-educate citizens to change the conscience of the richest 20 per cent to feel more social responsibility. Nelson has unique cultural foundations for “the growth of consciousness.”
Nelsonites pride themselves on progress toward spiritual self-improvement. (Think of people who’ve travelled to Buddhist lands, shamanic ceremonies, etc. to have life-transforming experiences; they follow all manner of traditions from all times and cultures of the planet. We are so lucky they are living here.) With their material riches, our spiritual seekers can help those whose bodies suffer lack of wealth — and advance their own enlightenment. The rich will re-distribute wealth voluntarily.
1. I am running for a seat on city council because Nelson is my home; I want this city to grow in a healthy, positive and sustainable manner.
We live in a beautiful city with a rich heritage and the international reputation as a great place to live.
We have a responsibility to protect and enhance these assets for future generations.
2. The city can help local business grow by ensuring appropriate infrastructure is in place, including continued expansion of the fiber optic network. Implementation of the Sustainable Waterfront and Downtown master plan will revitalize our busy Baker Street and create stronger linkages to our beautiful waterfront. Administratively, licensing, permitting and development applications need to be streamlined. Continued collaboration with the Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership, Invest Nelson, Kootenay Lake Tourism and the RDCK will all play a role in helping us grow.
The green economy is the future economy. Current business and new business will be able to capitalize on green initiatives. Nelson has many old homes and commercial buildings that need efficiency retrofits. New building should incorporate green technologies wherever possible. When the economy grows so does the population. We need to ensure there is adequate housing- single family homes, condos and rentals.
3. The development of a robust value-added economy that provides living wage employment opportunities will not occur without development. The city, through its bylaws, zoning and policies can ensure the development that does occur “fits” Nelson’s landscape and community diversity.
4. I believe the biggest issue of this election is expansion of the tax base to improve employment opportunities.
1. Because I love Nelson and I think I have the vision and experience to help our community meet the challenges we face in the future.
2. The simple answer is: by helping make sure there is more money circulating in the local economy. Here’s how we can do that:
• Launch a re-invigorated buy-local campaign that not only informs the public of the benefits, but challenges local businesses to address what causes people to spend their money elsewhere.
• Increase the number of visitors to Nelson by improving and promoting our amenities.
• Turn Nelson into a hub for tech and green businesses by establishing a startup incubator. (I have worked on startups, so I have some insight into this culture.)
• Grow the number of people who live in Nelson but work remotely. (I am one of these people, so I understand the benefits/challenges.)
• Recognize the crucial role that art and culture play in our economic wellbeing.
3. Between 2006 and 2011, Nelson grew in size by 10.5 per cent, nearly double the national average growth rate. So like it or not, Nelson is growing. We need to ensure that growth is sustainable and in keeping with Nelson’s unique culture. In cases where the city has an opportunity to re-zone or provide variances, we must ensure we adhere to the goals outlined in our “Path to 2040” document.
4. Nelson’s median income is low for the province, yet we have incredibly high housing costs. We need to look at ways to boost our stock of market and affordable housing, as well as boost our local economy.
1. I decided to run because many friends suggested it and that I love Nelson. I have lived in the area all my life and I’ve been involved in various public projects.
2. I have several ideas about getting growth to happen in Nelson. Mainly the downtown core needs fresh investment and a new common plan. The city can facilitate a change and reinvigorate Baker and surroundings. I’m not sure spending more on studies is a good thing. We already have a huge amount spent on traffic studies etc. What we really need is a public process to generate ideas and decide to work on a few.
3. Development is not at odds with our values but we must hold developers and our planners to the Official Community Plan to make sure we also make more headway on our social goals too. Redeveloping our downtown core is a key part of revving the economic engine of Nelson.
4. The biggest challenge we face is the rising cost of dealing with homeless and mental health related problems occurring in our town. Serious action is required to ensure we don’t have to continue to keep adding to the police budgets. This issue directly impacts the business and the residents of Nelson.
1. I am running for Nelson City Council because I believe in giving back to the community. I have served on the Chamber of Commerce Board for six years, as well as Nelson’s Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership board, thus I’ve seen Nelson from both a business and development perspective. I believe this experience would be an asset on council.
2. The best way for the city to support business is to manage the city well. But Nelson also needs growth. We have a youth drain. I grew up in the 1980s when Nelson lost five major employers. When I graduated, there were no jobs and half the city was for sale. Like most of my classmates, I left to find work. Nelson has since rebounded through small industry and business. But we don’t yet have the well-paid jobs to keep youth here.
Our youth are our future builders and tax payers who will balance our aging demographic.
Broadband is an important component in Nelson’s growth. Broadband will allow our established businesses better access to marketing and selling online. It also will boost the capabilities of our growing tech industry and will create opportunities for developing new businesses. And it will allow quiet, clean business and industry to move into Nelson.
3. Nelson has no major industries; it is built around small diverse commercial enterprises. Currently there are over 1,300 active businesses in Nelson.
In a city of 10,000, this means a business for every 7.7 persons. This must be considered in any discussion about development.
4. The major topic of this election should be the business of running the city: using taxpayer money wisely to insure the city functions well, long range planning for future maintenance and replacements, and planning thoughtfully what we want our city to look like in the future and making this happen.
1. I’m running because I have time and energy to devote to something important. This year I made it my project to learn about council and how the city works. I’m civic-minded, love Nelson, and want it to continue to be a wonderful place that thrives. If elected to Council, I will listen to you and will work hard for four years.
2. The city can help local business by partnering with organizations designed to grow the economy the Chamber, The Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership, Community Futures and others — and we must promote every sector that generates jobs and revenue, and that brings visitors and new residents to town, including home-based and storefront businesses, arts, recreation, tourism, health and education.
3. Buildings, roads and parks last for a long time. Lakeside Park was created about 100 years ago, and we need to look that far into the future when we develop the rest of the waterfront, for example.
The decisions we make today won’t easily be undone. Until about 10 years ago, city planning focused mostly on land use, while today it also considers social, cultural and environmental values. We already have excellent plans (like the Path to 2040) that outline what Nelson needs to preserve and build on. If a new development follows or adjusts to the values outlined in our plans, I’ll support it.
4. Issues come and go — right now things like making Nelson affordable, generating jobs for young people, and homelessness are important challenges to address but the biggest issue for the election is the same one it always is: electing a hardworking council that will respond to citizens, seek out the best ideas, and not be afraid to show leadership.
1. I am running for city council because over at least the past few election cycles there has been meagre representation from someone who is an active business owner and a long-time resident of the city.
I also think it is time that we take our city back from the invasive weed onslaught that dominates our alleys and public spaces.
2. We need a council that is pro-growth and welcoming to every entrepreneur, whether they be new or existing. This can-do spirit has to become the culture of all city departments.
A big impediment for local business to grow is the lack of modern buildings to expand business. How many businesses in Nelson have a loading dock for example. Not too many. As the largest landlord, the city has ample opportunity to either dispose of real estate assets that don’t align with its core function of providing municipal services or partner with the private sector to convert assets into a business park type application.
Growing a business is the job of individual entrepreneurs. If the city shows leadership in performance excellence in maintaining roads and sewers, street lights, hydro and other services it provides, as well as a superior balance sheet, the private sector will respond in kind to this superior investment climate.
3. The last five annual reports published by the city show a tiny population increase. even. This is somewhat laughable. From these stats, we have had defacto no development to speak of. So it would be an understatement for me to say that I think more development is needed.
4. We need to change the climate in the city from one of ambivalence to growth to one that seeks the challenge and opportunities that growth can facilitate. We have a great resource of knowledgable workers as residents, neighbors and taxpayers. I think most people have no qualms on getting their hands dirty if they can buy into a vision of making Nelson an even more dynamic small city than it already is.
1. Greetings fellow residents. I am Brian Shields and would like to represent you at the council table using my diverse set of skills. I am a collaborator and mentor by nature with a great sense of humour and believe that my experience and my natural traits will be assets when representing residents at the council table. I understand the importance of a strong and decisive council made up of councillors who are willing to make decisions that respect the views of residents. I am no stranger to representing others. My experience as a union official, manager and small business owner have contributed to my interest in and my ability to appreciate information from many points of view.
2. The City of Nelson can help local businesses grow by identifying and implementing “business friendly” initiatives such as: establishing a one-window approval process with clear timelines and evening the playing field for all businesses by applying city policies/practises equitably.
3. In order to provide an answer to the question “what are you feelings about development” it is necessary to understand if it is referring to community development as a process, economic development which is only one aspect of community development or only new buildings as development.
The word development alone brings out fear of change for many residents and could be considered a loaded word in Nelson. Development can occur without growth and growth can occur without development. I am not in favour of building multiple condominiums and townhouses and calling it development. I am in favour of community development where all aspects of life in our community are considered.
4. The number one issue raised with me during this election campaign so far is the Hall Street Project and the enormous amount of tax dollars allocated to it.
1. I am running because I have relevant experience, proven skills and great interest in serving Nelson in this way. Although the encouragement of friends and colleagues initially started me thinking about running, it is my capacity to prioritize amongst competing needs, my ability to find creative solutions to tighten budgets, my willingness to take on complex, challenging projects as well as my understanding of this community and the global context in which it operates that led me to accept the nomination.
2. Growing local business requires cultivating an economically-healthy environment enabling residents to purchase the goods and services on offer. We can encourage this by working to bring new sustainable livelihoods to our community. Growth in the recreation sector, in arts, culture and heritage and in green energy innovation are in keeping with Nelson’s values and build on the city’s reputation as a great place to visit and live. Support for and investment in these sectors offers renewed possibility to strengthen our existing base of creatively unique shops and services.
3. Development and growth are necessary but not all development is good for us. Nelson needs development that brings well-paying and skilled employment opportunities that are not based on the harmful overconsumption of distantly-produced goods or other environmentally or socially destructive practices.
4. I am hearing a good deal of community concern over growing poverty and its effect on access to housing and a sufficient and reliable supply of food.
High costs and inadequate incomes are conspiring to adversely impact an increasing number of people. Seniors are the fastest growing demographic of food bank users currently, and young families, barely able to afford rent, are increasingly unable to invest in community through home purchases. Council must work with the community to turn these trends around.