Nicole Charlwood is running for city council. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Nicole Charlwood is running for city council. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Meet the Nelson byelection candidates: Nicole Charlwood

Third of three candidate interviews

Nicole Charlwood is one of three candidates running in the municipal byelection on March 27 to replace former councillor Brittny Anderson. Charlwood was the Green Party candidate in Nelson-Creston in the 2020 provincial election and acted as campaign manager for two previous Green candidates.

She is a project management consultant who has served in executive positions for the West-Kootenay Ecosociety and Nelson Waldorf School. She serves on the Watershed Advisory Committee for RDCK Area E.

This Q&A interview, conducted on Zoom on March 10, has been edited for brevity. The questions were not provided to the candidate in advance.

Why are you running?

When the byelection was called, I felt I had the skills and the motivation, frankly, to step up. It’s my turn to do some of the work that I’ve been asking others to do for about a decade.

I’ve spent over a decade now recruiting politicians, and supporting their campaigns, and door knocking and asking people what’s important and getting involved with all sorts of community organizations. That’s been an ongoing conversation I’ve been a part of for a long time.

What are two municipal issues you are concerned about?

First, making Nelson a livable and affordable city. There’s so many initiatives working on that, but it could be more co-ordinated and strategic. The city has a bigger role than it’s playing right now, whether it’s land use and participating in social development on Nelson land, I think there are opportunities there. Affordability is probably the biggest issue I see facing the residents of Nelson.

Second, municipalities are faced with about 80 per cent of the work residents expect to see from government, yet they’re only given about 10 per cent of the public purse. So there’s a huge gap between what a city would be asked to do versus the money we collect. Taxation of residents is regressive, it’s difficult to raise money in that way from where it is now. You can’t do any major increases in that way. We can’t bring a whole lot of new people in to pay these taxes. So where is our money coming from to support the ever growing needs that our city faces?

There’s money to be raised from the other levels of government. And that’s a huge role for a city councillor to be out there advocating and supporting community initiatives in that way.

What does the city spend most of its money on?

I have been watching some council’s budget discussions. Those are really interesting to me, because that’s where the rubber hits the road. What are we actually spending our money on is a real clue to the values and priorities set by the city.

I know that a quarter of our money goes to policing. I could not confidently say a percentage for other expenditures.

Are there any budget issues that concern you?

I question how council decides which projects to approve. Maybe they have a framework and it’s just not clear from the outside.

When I see projects like the pier project going forward, and that it could cost taxpayers up to a million dollars — the lowest estimate I saw was a few hundred thousand for a project that I’m not sure I would consider that a priority item.

What has the city done, and what should it do, to protect us from wildfire?

There has been a lot of planning already gone into what would a fire look like in the city and how might we deal with it.

There are some forestry attempts that some argue could support fire fighting efforts, but I don’t necessarily align with that. I would love to see better protection of the forests, cleaning up of our forests around the city. I think that has not happened in a productive way that also works to protect our water source.

Some of that water source work has happened, which is great.

Cleaning up our forests checks a lot of boxes – it’s about getting jobs into our community and taking ownership of the land around us and taking a stewardship approach.

We’ve been testing our communications, should there be a fire emergency. That’s been rolling out really well.

What has the city done, and what should it do, to support small businesses?

A city is not going to do all for small business. They’re out there doing it themselves. So in some regards, it’s get out of the way. In some regards, it’s about helping.

It might not be direct support, but the city is responsible for access to water and having good transportation routes. So I think we can continue to work on things like transportation.

I was pleasantly surprised at how many small businesses are doing quite well, despite COVID.

I love that there’s bigger patios, I hope we keep them. I’d love to start seeing more energy around that outdoor space. The city can play a great role in that.

What has the city done, and what should it do, to mitigate the effects of climate change?

The city signed on to 100 per cent Renewable Kootenays and most recently developed their Nelson Next plan.

Climate change is one of the biggest issues facing the city and will be the one of the biggest drains and demands on city resources: how we’re dealing with flooding, fires, and we could get food insecurity.

We could have energy insecurity as a result. And that hits at the heart of city work.

I look forward to taking that Nelson Next plan and integrating some social considerations into it. It’s very climate focused. I think tunnel vision for any issue can be problematic. So perhaps looking at it with a slightly broader lens, and then actioning it. Plans are great, but until we start seeing action on the ground, it’s all just talk.

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.

Meet the Nelson byelection candidates: Brenton Raby

Meet the Nelson byelection candidates: Josh Wapp

Nelson byelection candidates attend two online forums

Brittny Anderson wins Nelson-Creston

Candidates announced for Nelson by-election

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A cougar encounter near the flagpole above Pulpit Rock has closed off a section of the popular trail. File photo
Part of Pulpit Rock trail closed by cougar sighting

Pulpit Rock to the flagpole will be blocked to the public for the next two weeks

Nav Canada will not be closing the tower at West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada tower to remain open at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization was considering closing the tower

Dresses hang outside Nelson city hall as part of the REDress Project by Métis artist Jaime Black. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson’s REDress Project exhibit vandalized

The REDress Project brings attention to missing and murdered Indigenous women

Dr. Katherine Oldfield is a naturopathic physician, mother, and active member of the Nelson-West Kootenay chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Photo: Submitted
COLUMN: Restore our Earth, restore our health

Katherine Oldfield marks Earth Day by writing about the priorities we need to have

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Most Read