I’m writing this the day before Canada Day and like many of you, anticipating another great event at Lakeside Park, complete with fireworks, cake, music and the opportunity to see friends and neighbours. I like that we take a day to celebrate Canada and to appreciate this great country we live in. And a little cake makes it a real celebration.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the flooding that Albertans and people in the Kootenays are experiencing and about how these extreme events are becoming more frequent. It is hard to hear about people losing everything they’ve worked for and in many cases having no insurance coverage to assist in rebuilding their lives.
It seems that more frequent, extreme weather events are here to stay and it’s up to us to adapt and prepare our communities for them. It’s one of the reasons I was very interested when Dr. Mel Reasoner approached me with the idea of partnering with a climate change research institute in Innsbruck, Austria.
For those of you who haven’t met Mel, he’s a Canadian climate change scientist who spent some time working in Austria and is now living here. Mel is currently working with the Columbia Basin Trust to assist Basin communities to adapt to climate change. Mel and Dr. Johann Stoetter of AlpS are friends and colleagues who share a passion for learning and educating people about our environment. AlpS has been partnering with communities for over ten years to develop and fund projects that will make a difference.
The Institute began its work closer to home, but has now successfully partnered internationally to expand its learning and to share its knowledge. Successful past projects include flood risk management, alternate energy systems development and projects with young people. AlpS has a solid track record of success and we stand to benefit from that experience.
The recent flooding and landslide events we have experienced add a sense of urgency to finding solutions. Nelson is currently conducting a feasibility study to develop a district energy system. There may be an opportunity to partner with AlpS as this project moves forward. And, if not this project, as an associate partner, there will be others to explore.
From AlpS we move to the city of Sandpoint, Idaho. Council welcomed a delegation from Sandpoint at our last meeting and we signed a municipal partnership agreement. With the chambers of commerce and ski resorts in both communities working together over the next few years, both communities should see some exciting projects come about.
The community of Sandpoint is about the same size and remarkably similar to Nelson in its culture. We can’t go wrong when a community has its own coffee roaster, a brewery and artwalk. Sandpoint, like Nelson, was one of the first communities to sign up as a Transition Town, there’s a strong music scene and their council is addressing many of the same issues as Nelson. The conversations between the cultural community, sport and recreation groups and businesses were buzzing with ideas. I’m predicting that this friendship will be very active and beneficial for both communities. If you’re planning a trip to the States this summer, Sandpoint would love to see you.
The Recreation Commission recently met with the consultants in charge of the renovations to the aquatic centre. With the removal of the ceiling tiles complete, the facility will enjoy a new look complete with more efficient lighting and fresh paint. I’m happy that there are other swimming options available over the summer as this work is being completed. It will be a new and improved recreation venue when the upgrades are completed and well worth the wait.
You’ve heard about the serious car accident that Pat Henman and daughter Maia Vezina were in three weeks ago. Pat is a good friend and this news was devastating to many of us. The latest news of their recovery is extremely positive. There is a long road of healing ahead but those first steps are solidly in place. There will be a fundraiser on July 31 at the Capitol Theatre for Pat and Maia with the very best of local talent participating. Former singers with Shenango, an ensemble that Pat was part of, will be a part of the evening and we invite you to come, enjoy yourselves and support the family.
Have a great and safe summer everyone. We live in a wonderful place to make that happen.
Deb Kozak is a Nelson city councillor who shares this weekly space with her colleagues at the council table