Nelson’s municipal election results clearly illuminate that there are two Nelsons: those residents who voted for a return to the past, with promises of raising civic pride, getting back on track and generally “making Nelson great again” and those residents who voted to elect young, innovative, forward-thinking councillors ready to meet an uncertain future that will be very different than the past.
What we saw in Nelson’s election cycle was American-type politics: win at all costs by telling them what they want to hear — even if that means making inaccurate or incomplete statements, promising the moon. We saw promises of reduced parking rates for seniors (without explaining where everyone who is not a senior will park), reduced lease fees for gymnastics (regardless of where the participants live in the region, or the precedent that may set), promising more time for baseball teams to play (despite it being a multi-use park), making inaccurate statements with regard to mayor and council remuneration (no, the former mayor did not vote herself a raise), about the promise to return Christmas lights to Baker Street (already approved by the previous council), the proposal to use waterfront lands, formerly the RDCK recycling and waste site for an eco-depot (when our Official Community Plan is for parkland on our precious waterfront). We also were told that the Hall Street upgrade should have been done differently (we’ll never know as the project will be complete in the next few weeks. Good luck to the new mayor and council in keeping everyone happy when the infrastructure work is done on Baker Street).
There’s more to the job and more to the issues than the naysayers would have you believe, and everyone who has held elected office knows that, or should. I was very surprised that negative, critical and misleading campaigning was tolerated and in some instances rewarded. People seem to accept this behaviour as acceptable during an election, rarely questioning what is being said.
The Coalition of Responsible Electors (CORE) offered some particularly negative campaigning, suggesting that Nelson is anything other than the vibrant, well-run city it is. There are huge challenges, in particular housing availability and affordability. If this group is the non-partisan, grassroots coalition of concerned citizens they claim to be, I hope they will join with Nelson’s housing advocates so that service workers, artists, minimum-wage earners, and our most at-risk populations will find safe, permanent homes. The only thing finished is the election. More than ever we must come together to find solutions keeping with our highest shared values.
Not yet finished!
(Michael Dailly served as a Nelson city councillor from 2014 to 2018)