Josh Wapp is one of three candidates running in the municipal byelection on March 27 to replace former councillor Brittny Anderson.
Wapp is West Kootenay native and is a self-employed cartoonist. He is the volunteer secretary-treasurer of the Inland to Island Society, which hires local people with barriers to employment to carry out janitorial duties in the Nelson area.
This Q&A interview, conducted on Zoom on March 10, has been edited. The questions were not provided to the candidate in advance.
Why are you running?
I need the experience. If I’m to become a career politician, I‘ve got to start somewhere. If I could one day be a cabinet minister, and have people call me the Honourable Josh Wapp, I think that would be a ticket.
What are two municipal issues you are concerned about?
I think creating Nelson as a world class destination, and truly one that has some kind of significant monuments and something for people to see.
There could be condos on top of the big orange bridge. And the airport could be expanded to actually be an airport just by in filling the lake. In Jasper, the British figured out how to use a combination of ice and wood pulp to be able to land planes. I think we could maybe have some monuments to some of the great economists of the world, Statue of Liberty size, a statue of, say, Kevin O’Leary, because of his financial genius and his supporting of young entrepreneurs.
Renaming Nelson is something I’ve put on the table as well. Nelson gets confused with Nelson Avenue, when people come into town, and Fort Nelson up north. And so I was thinking New Davos, after Davos, Switzerland, would be more prestigious. That’s where they have the World Economic Forums as well. And there’s New Denver, so there’s a bit of a tie-in there.
What does the city spend most of its money on?
I have read the Statement of Financial Information. And it depends where the funds are coming from. So if they’re city tax funds, if they’re grant funds, or if they’re city revenue funds. I know there’s revenue from things like parking meters and from bus fares, for example. So to the layman, looking at these budgets, it’s very hard to tell where they spend most of their money. But it seems to me that there’s about a quarter of the budget that goes to wages and salaries.
Are there any budget issues that concern you?
I think the taxes should be higher. I’m looking at a world class destination and creating a resort city with an atmosphere of unique specialty shops and this sort of thing. To do that, you have to put more money into these sort of big projects. I think we all need to tighten our belts and have fewer services. We can have garbage once a month, for example. And in some neighbourhoods, we could just leave the sand for the next year, we wouldn’t have to clean up the sand.
What has the city done, and what should it do, to protect us from wildfire?
As far as I know, they’ve done a fire break above the city and they’ve hired an extra emergency co-ordinator. So we could just double up on our efforts and basically clearcut the side of the mountain behind us and get a crack team of spark detectors. You would have people going around, there are sparks flying in the area when there’s a fire, they can see where they’re going and be able to put those out. That could be a private-public partnership.
What has the city done, and what should it do, to support small businesses?
Well, I’m not quite sure what the city’s done, to be honest, to support small businesses. I think they’ve kind of cleaned up the downtown — there doesn’t seem to be as much panhandling any more, people causing trouble or kicking each other in the head. So I guess I would like to have more police. And subsidized housing would be good because wages are stagnant.
What has the city done, and what should it do, to mitigate the effects of climate change?
Well, the city has retrofitted some buildings downtown, which are city-owned buildings. So we can continue with those efforts. And lobby the province.
Where to vote
March 17: advance voting at City Hall, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
March 24: advance voting at City Hall, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
March 27: general voting day at Prestige Lakeside Resort, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.