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Monthly car-free block pitched for Nelson’s Baker Street

Nelson resident John Alton ‘plants a seed’ at a city council meeting
Nelson resident John Alton wants to see a car-free Sunday once per month on one block of downtown Baker Street. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

A Nelson man wants city council to declare a car-free Sunday on one block of Baker Street, once per month.

John Alton presented the idea to Nelson City Council as part of the public participation section at its Jan. 31 meeting.

Alton said the city and Nelson’s tourism promoters like to convey Nelson as a place with a street market lifestyle, so he says it would make sense for council to support his proposal.

“I’m just here to plant a seed,” he said.

Alton ran the farmers’ markets in Nelson when they first opened on downtown streets and started MarketFest, both while working for Neighbours United, then known as the West Kootenay EcoSociety.

The idea would support the city’s active transportation aim, which is to get people out of cars. Alton added that there could be activities on the car-free block such as performances, games, or information tables.

“This is a public space and so why not use it and try it out for different uses rather than just parking on it.”

Mayor Janice Morrison told Alton that others have suggested similar ideas, and it could be on the table at council’s strategic planning session coming up soon.

Councillor Keith Page said Alton should get involved in the public sessions leading up to an update of the Official Community Plan in the next year. He said the idea could become part of planning for the city.

Councillor Jesse Woodward suggested that Alton touch base with the staff on the city’s climate and energy team.

Alton told the Nelson Star he is approaching this cautiously – one day per month and only one block – because he wants buy-in from downtown businesses.

“It’s got to be a win-win. It’s got to work for the businesses. So I’d go talk to the businesses once the city says let’s do it.”

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Bill Metcalfe

About the Author: Bill Metcalfe

I have lived in Nelson since 1994 and worked as a reporter at the Nelson Star since 2015.
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