I am often asked “What have you learned in the first six months of being a Nelson city councillor?”
Mostly I have been meeting people and learning what is important to them about Nelson. The list of issues and priorities are as varied as the people who live here.
• I have learned to be a better listener.
• I have learned to take detailed notes.
• I have learned to ask descriptive questions.
• I have learned how to offer direction when it is asked for.
Often people just want to know that I hear their point of view and acknowledge that I will add their perspective to my list of things to consider when making a decision.
The word councillor refers to a person who is member of an elected council as is the case in our local government. Our job once elected is to represent all of our constituents, not just those who voted for us. We are bound by a code of conduct and provincial legislation. We are expected to perform a variety duties, such as policy overview, decision making, review of planning applications, and representing the community.
One of the people I met recently was a former long-term mayor of a neighbouring community. She shared her idea that the main job of council is to be frugal while purchasing utilities and services in bulk at wholesale rates in order to sell these to the residents at a better price than they would have to pay if they bought them on their own. Good advice, I thought.
I also believe that councillors are elected to look at how we can implement actions that improve our community. Our job is to initiate ideas that have been identified as desirable as described in our official community plan and Path to 2040 documents. Both describe the wishes of our residents and must be our guide as we make decisions about the future of our community.
As elected representatives our task is to listen to our constituents and then take the mandate we have been given and be the lead in identifying opportunities for positive change.
• I see this happening as the mayor and council work to form a partnership with Interior Health, police, and social service providers to respond to mental health issues in Nelson.
• I see this when council makes it known we support keeping the hospital laundry jobs local, not contracted out.
• I see this when council votes to approve Hall St. designs which favour active transportation and safer pedestrian walkways and crossing areas.
• I see this when our police department and council agree to support a community-based restorative justice program.
• I see this when the city makes an effort to engage the community in developing residential housing at the youth centre.
• I see this when we hire an information technology and fibre manager to expand our broadband service and infrastructure.
• I see this as we consider alternative sources of energy production.
Recently in a conversation with the president of Selkirk College he indicated half the jobs graduating students will be doing in the next 20 years, have not yet been conceived. We are at the leading edge of a very necessary “Greening Revolution.” Stay tuned. Next up… alternative energy, transportation, housing and food security initiatives. Keep asking the questions the learning continues.
In closing I want to thank our emergency services, hydro and city staff for the professional response to our recent extreme weather event.
By the time this article is printed most of the fallen trees and damage will have been cleaned up. I believe it would be a mistake if we don’t use this extreme weather event, the record high temperatures and record low snow pack to strengthen our resolve and reassess our relationship with the natural world.
Collectively we must change our idea of business as usual. We must do everything we can to be in harmony and right relationship with nature. I saw and felt the power of an energized community as everyone came together to clean up after the storm. Let’s keep that focus and direct it towards doubling our efforts to be the change we want to see. Let’s celebrate new ideas and have the courage to step into a more sustainable lifestyle.
Nelson city councillor Michael Dailly shares this space weekly with his council colleagues.