The candidates in Nelson’s March 27 byelection appeared at two online forums recently.
Asked how the candidates would reconcile the need for affordable housing with the expense of building green homes, candidate Brenton Raby said the city has moved too quickly in its recent move to Step 3 of the province’s Energy Step Code because he thinks the costs are too high for builders.
Raby also said he disagrees with the housing plan for the top floors of the proposed new library building.
“I do not believe the City of Nelson should be working with for-profit developers to develop affordable housing,” he said.
Raby criticized the city for allowing some downtown businesses, in their winter patios, to “burn fossil fuels to heat the outdoors.”
Candidate Nicole Charlwood said the city should change the Official Community Plan to allow row-housing. She said she supports council’s efforts so far to increase density.
There is a need for supportive and affordable living arrangements for people in need of it, she said, noting that land use is the role of the city and that it owns a lot of it.
“I want to ask more questions about land use, she said, “and if Nelson can participate more generously in that regard.”
The meeting, hosted on Zoom jointly by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and the youth group Fridays for Future, was attended by 41 people plus another 11 on the Facebook live stream.
Raby said the city can already influence issues outside its boundary because it has a seat at the Regional District of Central Kootenay board table.
Asked what their priority areas in the implementation of Nelson Next would be, Charlwood said her priorities were the same as those in the plan.
Raby said he would support some but not all of the plan. He does not support a district energy system and said the city missed the opportunity in its Selous Creek water upgrade to generate hydro electricity there, adding that the city should find innovative ways to produce power.
Charlwood said that as a community faced with climate change we have to mitigate and adapt.
“We are already doing it,” she said. “We are telling our rural neighbours that the storms that affect the infrastructure are becoming so expensive that we can’t ensure energy security for you – we are faced with some complicated things and our excuse is always that there is not enough money. Well I am saying ‘no’ to that excuse.”
“I am going to say ‘no’ to that excuse as well,” Raby said. “Climate change … is the umbrella to everything — poverty, quality of life, viability of businesses — as we struggle through not only COVID but the reconciliation of the fuel use of the tourists coming here.”
He said climate change should not be written in stone as a priority in every action but should be a lens through which all actions are viewed, stating this would be more fair and “agile.”
Asked how the city should phase out fossil-fuel powered vehicles, Charlwood said she knows there is work being done on regional transportation and she “would love to see some regional co-ordination around train transport.”
She spoke against building the Hall Street pier and suggested the money could be spent on covered walkways.
Raby said the province and federal governments are committed to electric buses and the city should continue to apply for grant money for this. He said Nelson’s new transit hub is a good idea, and he questioned the carbon footprints of the manufacture of electric vehicles.
Candidate Josh Wapp’s answers to all questions included such solutions as building a nuclear power plant on the lakeshore, condos on the orange bridge, and a bigger airport by filling in the lake.
At an online “reverse forum” on March 11, about 40 residents appeared on Zoom to tell Wapp and Charlwood (Raby did not attend) their ideas in the areas of poverty, housing, childcare, community safety, inclusion, Truth and Reconciliation, COVID recovery, food security and the toxic drug supply crisis.
The March 11 forum was organized by Nelson at its Best.