Nelson draftsman Jason Peil has announced as the sixth council candidate in the upcoming municipal election. The 39-year-old father of two, who lives in Rosemont, is running as a progressive candidate with an eye on enhancing the social values of Nelson and encouraging a more broad-based approach to development in the area.
“I’m a thoughtful person about economics, considering my education,” said Peil, who studied economic geography, fine arts and Canadian studies at Simon Fraser University.
“My experience is in development, I’m a land surveying draftsman. I’ve designed a number of subdivisions, parking lots, whatever comes at me. In doing that, I speak with developers. I have a good common sense background and I’ve always had the mindset that development doesn’t have to be at odds with social goals.”
In other words, he plans to advocate for “as much development as possible, as long as it has a heart and as long as it has social goals.”
Which means council shouldn’t only be catering to the wealthy, or looking to profit.
“You have to have a more broad-based approach than simply looking at ‘how much tax are we going to get from this?’”
Peil joins new council candidates Val Warmington, Anna Purcell, Charles Jeanes, John Paolozzi and Michael Dailly. Current council members Robin Cherbo and Bob Adams are running for re-election while councillor Deb Kozak, Mayor John Dooley and retired cop Pat Severyn are in a three-way race for mayor.
Peil said the current council has done a relatively good job over the last term, but he thinks he can bring insight and perspective that has been missing from council chambers. His recent letter to the Star urged those with opposing views to find common ground.
“Let’s respect those differences, and allow them to be there,” he said. “It’s more important to build bridges between people.”
Peil was formerly the organizer for Kootenay Pride, and he is intensely proud of the LGBT community in Nelson.
“Nelson is unique in all of North America in having a large and active LGBT community that doesn’t have to fight to be respected. At this town, in this time, we’ve really come of age. The amount of general social understanding for LGBT people is really awesome,” he said.
And the arts culture is equally worthy of praise.
“We’re home base for so many creative people of various colours and stripes. I believe a big part of keeping Nelson vibrant is to invest in it. Actually put your money where you mouth is. Actually be the city of festivals if you call yourself the city of festivals. We need to work as a city council to make that happen,” he said.
Peil believes the city could be handling their financial affairs more responsibly by tackling big ideas and taking risks. He was particularly disappointed when a police request for a special mental health car program didn’t happen.
“We should’ve looked at that way more closely. That was an opportunity missed. The police were asking for something really logical, and it would’ve reduced policing budgets on other sides. It would’ve saved us a lot of money in the future.”
Peil is also passionate about cleaning up the streets and providing a safe, drug-free environment for his two children to grow up in.
“I’m not in favour of demonizing people, of bringing them down and making them criminals. But I think the city needs to invest in support for our youth, for people who are homeless, we need to find strategies to reduce poverty and make sure housing is affordable. People who earn minimum wage have a really hard time living here,” he said.
“We’re bringing in people who vote with their dollars. And that’s not helping locals who are already struggling.”