COLUMN: Summertime work and play

I’ve been noticing that, at long last, “climate change” has slipped into the general vocabulary.

What a summer we’re having! Sometimes I feel like I’m in a melting pot, but for the most part the hot sunny days and cool nights are just perfect — for me and my garden!

Other regions are not faring so well, with high floodwaters, roaring forest fires and intense storms.

I’ve been noticing that, at long last, “climate change” has slipped into the general vocabulary as we contemplate the damage that’s occurring and consider the future we face.

News reports this week, for example, from the Lower Mainland say they’re facing a $9 billion cost to protect coastal areas from sea level rise and storm surges. We’re going to have to pay these bills, because doing nothing will be far more costly.

Of course, the best option would have been to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, but the absence of committed global and federal leadership means we’ve likely lost the chance to significantly mitigate climate change.

Another issue where cities are struggling because of the lack of significant federal and provincial support is housing affordability.

Right now, the city is updating our housing report; our consultants are doing local interviews and analyzing data so we can understand what our housing needs are, and how they’ve changed since the last housing needs report. Then they’ll move on to the strategy document — what do we do about those needs? And who is “we”?

The strategy won’t be finalized until after we’ve done a consultation with people in the biz. We’re going to invite a selection of developers, builders, financial institutions, architects, realtors and other partners (like Columbia Basin Trust) to respond to the draft reports. And to inform us about the challenges and opportunities they see.

I think that will be a fascinating conversation, and given Nelson’s general creativity I’m hoping for some exciting new approaches and partnerships.

The update of the two reports will be wrapped up by November, and then it will be up to the new council and its housing committee to carry forward the recommendations and ideas.

Speaking of new partnerships, I’ve had the pleasure, along with councillor Candace Batycki and city manager Kevin Cormack, of participating in a project we’ve called Cultural Collaboration. We wanted to explore the question “what might increased collaboration in the cultural sector in Nelson look like and what could it accomplish?”

That’s an important question because our arts and heritage are essential both to the local economy and to the pleasure of living or visiting here.

We invited representatives from eight major cultural entities to gather for three, three-hour meetings. It was incredibly fun and informative — and creative, of course! We ended up with a broad plan that outlines three priorities. One is called Backstage, and refers to the action behind the scenes — board governance, bookkeeping, human resources management, storage space, stages and tents, etc. How can working together use those resources and knowledge more effectively and efficiently?

The second priority is Front Stage. How can we best promote all the great activities that are happening? That could include marketing, a shared identity, a downtown cultural hub, shared ticketing, an events calendar, etc. How can collaboration bring those ideas to fruition?

The third priority is On-Stage. The desire to develop a significant new event in Nelson came through loud and clear, and obviously collaboration will help move that along.

The whole process went really well, thanks to our excellent facilitator. The broad plan has been emailed to a lengthy list of people in the cultural sector. And the city’s cultural development committee has agreed to take the lead in further developing a three-year plan, with specific tasks, who will do them, by when, and how much it will cost.

A sub-committee has agreed to do that, working with Joy Barrett, our cultural development officer, who will assume a coordinating role. Further consultation with the broader cultural sector will happen as this project moves forward.

So even though this is my last term, I hardly feel like the veritable lame duck, except when the temperature hits 39. Then I’m heading for the lake and have only one thing on my mind — cold water! I hope you’re enjoying this summer.


— Donna Macdonald is a Nelson city councillor. She shares this editorial space with her fellow council members.

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