In October this year, Nelson’s citizens choose a new mayor and council.
As a candidate several times beginning in 1995, I’ve earned two reputations (at least two) in my campaigns: I’m perpetually a dark horse who never comes in a winner; I’m opposed to growing Nelson by policy, preferring policies that will designedly discourage growth. I am quite sure the two facts are related. Electors consistently vote for a growth agenda. OK, I get it.
Growth is the people’s choice. The movers and shakers have moved and shaken, and gentrifying growth has triumphed. But while we’ve grown from about 7,500 to 11,500 residents while I have lived here, we now have a social divide that did not exist in 1987.
Our homelessness and housing crisis is acute, and our vacancy rate near zero. Socio-economic fracture is never talked about for fear it sounds Marxian, inclined to class warfare. I am asking any candidate for Nelson council to give as much attention to social-class issues as to the environment, planning, and the economy. Surely even a local government, with very limited powers to address poverty — far less than the province or the federal government — can do better than actions (or lack thereof) by the city and RDCK I have observed in my 35 years. Nelson studies but rarely acts.
Give it your attention when you decide you want to enter the electoral contest. Propose some substantial, viable, effective solutions. Please.