There are 10 candidates running for six Nelson city council seats ahead of the Oct. 15 municipal elections. In part 1, we spoke with Jesse Woodward, Jesse Pineiro, Ainsleah Hastings, Brenton Raby, Kyle Wilkinson and Rik Logtenberg.
In part two, we talk to Kate Tait, Keith Page, Leslie Payne and Glenn Sutherland.
Kate Tait says work in governance at Selkirk College has prepared her for a seat at city council.
Tait is the department head for Student Access and Support at the college, where she’s worked since 2013. In 2021 Tait served as interim chair at the School of the Arts, and she says she’s well-versed in writing and implementing policy.
“I believe in public service, I’m approaching this opportunity with a spirit of service. And I think I’m the right kind of person to be on city council.”
Tait cites climate change as a priority and says she’s impressed by the city’s Nelson Next plan, which she wants to help move forward.
As she’s campaigned, Tait says garbage pickup as it relates to the city’s bear population has been a hot topic. But she also thinks the solution is more complex than just running pickup weekly instead of bi-weekly. It’s also, for Tait, an example of an issue that needs to be included in the city’s plans for climate change adaptation.
“We’ve got unionized workers, we’ve got costs involved with additional garbage pickup and we probably need to be thinking about longer term solutions besides just taking the garbage out of town.”
Tait thinks the issues faced by Nelson residents can be worked out even when there is division. She says she’s passionate about bringing people together and wants to do it at city hall. Tait says she attends city council meetings both in-person and online, reads the agenda packages and has a solid understanding of how processes work.
“You’re going to get a large cross section of opinions and a large cross section of priorities, and I really believe in listening and bouncing those priorities and having people feel heard and figuring out ways to move forward together even when we don’t fully agree on something.”
Keith Page’s first term on council was a learning experience that he believes will inform future work.
The incumbent candidate describes the last four years as a time of personal growth that has made him a better councillor. Housing equality in a city with a lack of affordable units, for example, is an issue he believes he can better address having already done a term on council.
“The last four years has turned into a lot more education than it has been action and I’d like to take some of those learnings and really find more opportunities to bring units online that are serving the people who are continually underrepresented in that market.”
Page currently serves as one of the city’s representatives on the Recreation Commission, where he is also chair. He wants to continue on with the commission as it considers several potential new facilities such as the Nelson Soccer Association’s pitch for a domed field.
“I really look forward to Recreation Commission continuing to develop capacity to deliver its recreational values in the community and field many of these requests that come through in terms of the aspirations for new facilities, and how we go about doing the public consultation, the feasibility studies and evaluation of those projects to take it to the next level.”
The arts and culture sector meanwhile deserves, in Page’s opinion, more focus from city council.
He says he’s proud of having helped develop the Nelson Next climate change plan, and thinks the city needs similar long-term planning to protect its artists.
“I think we have to develop that framework at the city, get participation, buy-in and set up our arts and culture sector so it’s going to be sustainable over the long term and doesn’t just get washed out by the ongoing gentrification that is so prevalent in resort ski mountain towns.”
Leslie Payne believes there are practical solutions the city can commit to as it adapts to climate change.
Payne is recently retired but previously worked at Nelson CARES, and still has a role with Kootenay Carshare Cooperative. She says she’s running for council because of what she describes as several challenges on the horizon that will have an impact on Nelson’s residents.
“The city, municipal governance and how we care for where we live is one of the most important pieces in keeping the citizens safe from some of those challenges.”
Climate change is Payne’s priority. She took part in the Nest Lab, the city’s social innovation lab for climate solutions, and believes the city has been proactive in its work. Payne cites upgrades to water mains as an example, and believes more should be done to educate residents on water conservation.
“People want to help. They want to be part of the solution.”
Payne wants to see the city offer more incentives for climate change initiatives. She uses the city’s e-bike program, which provides low-interest financing to homeowners who want an e-bike, as an example and suggests a similar plan could be created to entice builders to install heat pumps.
“I think we have financial leverage to help people bear those up front costs.”
The city, she says, should also consider electrifying its vehicle fleet, installing chargers for staff at the city hall parking lot, and limiting the size of cars that are allowed in angled parking on Baker Street to encourage cyclist safety as part of its active transportation plan.
“I really think we need to limit the length a vehicle that can angle park on Baker Street. I feel that I’m taking my life in my hands when I ride my bicycle down Baker.”
Payne regularly attends in-person and online city council meetings.
Glenn Sutherland wants to ensure Nelson is protected against the growing threat of wildfires.
Sutherland, who has lived in Nelson for 25 years, owns Sutherland and Associates Financial Services. He has also previously served as president of the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce and sat on the boards of several organizations including Interior Health and the Canadian Automobile Association.
“I own commercial and personal property here in Nelson, and I’m passionate about Nelson and its history as well as its future.”
That future, he says, is tied to wildfire protection.
Last summer’s wildfires, in particular the ones that spread close to Nelson, are one of the reasons Sutherland says he’s running for council. He wants to advocate for more fuel mitigation funding from the province while also engaging with First Nations and private land owners.
“We were fortunate this year to have the provincial planes, the bombers, come in and help us out. But if you get fires throughout the province, and those resources are limited or you can’t get them here, I think we really need to be prepared for how we handle wildfires. Especially when they’re close. Pulpit Rock is pretty close.”
Sutherland also wants to make sure the city’s growth is handled with efficiency and care.
City hall, he says, should make the construction process as easy as it can for the companies involved in major projects such as the new Nelson Health Campus or potential ones that could include a new library building, which he supports.
Sutherland also says it will be important for the city to make sure the water main upgrades coming to Baker Street don’t disrupt downtown businesses.
“That’s a big job when you’ve got to work with local businesses and you can’t have interruption of those businesses, it needs to be done very, very quickly.”
Sutherland says he regularly watches council meetings online.