A shocking death in the middle of the day on Baker Street left a community shaken in June.
Matt Reeder was assaulted while sitting on the sidewalk on the 600 block of Baker. He was pronounced dead a day later.
Miles Halverson was charged with aggravated assault and manslaughter in Reeder’s death. Despite several court appearances since his incarceration, Halverson has still not entered a plea as the court waits on a delayed toxicology report. His next court appearance is in January.
Meanwhile, friends of Reeder grappled with his sudden death.
At a memorial for Reeder, Rachelle Jones said the 45-year-old Reeder helped save her from homelessness and addiction.
“Matt was always there in my life,” she said. “He was one of those friends who throughout 21 years never went away.”
Reeder was a well known personality within Nelson’s street community. He moved to Nelson in 2011 to live with a friend while trying to get clean from drugs, which he did, although he still struggled with alcoholism.
Reeder’s brother Ben described him as a talented musician and a trained animator. The pair started a visual company called BentMatter, which produced visuals for the Shambhala Music Festival.
“He’s battled with addiction, without a doubt, but somehow was always able to make it through,” said Ben.
At a housing protest in 2016, Reeder told the Star he was living in the forest because he couldn’t afford housing in Nelson.
“When I was here five years ago, I managed to find a one-bedroom house for $1,000,” said Reeder.
“It had a basement so I was able to partition that off into two-separate areas and rent it for two more people. [I could] afford it on the $300 from social services, which is what I’m on now. It’s not enough to get a room in someone’s grandma’s basement. It’s time to start thinking about community housing, shared living and cheaper options.”
Reeder’s death was largely avoided as a topic by candidates during the fall’s municipal election, but Cal Renwick said the incident was the reason he decided to run for city council.
Renwick, who was later elected, said he wants the city to impose a panhandling bylaw similar to the one that failed a council vote in 2016.
“We need to give the police a proper bylaw — tools they need to curb some of the negativity and some of the illegal activities.”