We’ll recover from the COVID-19 crisis; finding a safe path though the crises of climate change and social injustice will take longer and be more challenging. Nelson needs a plan for a green and just recovery and it needs it now. Here’s why:
The city’s business-focused action plan has just failed its first major test.
The West Kootenay EcoSociety has run Nelson’s farmers markets for 17 years. In this year of COVID they asked for city support via point 10 in that plan. They discussed with the youth centre how to hit the ground running with the city’s most recent offer of joint working between them whilst awaiting full detail of the support package. Then on June 1 came council’s decision: the city will run the markets without the EcoSociety.
The immediate injustices? Eight months of preparation for this year’s markets by the society’s markets co-ordinator, three focused on addressing the many challenges and changes brought by COVID-19, have been highjacked days before first market day and gifted to a new, untrained and inexperienced team who are denied even the opportunity to benefit from his on-going guidance and overall support. A family man is now unemployed.
The greater injustices affect us all.
Council’s decision heightens concerns for our health, our community’s resilience and our financial security and equity.
In an unfamiliar setting an untried team will administer the strict safety protocols necessitated by COVID-19 and at the Cottonwood site despite the EcoSociety’s assessment that Baker Street is the easier of the two sites to organize and administer safely.
Our low income families and seniors face both a long uphill walk to the Baker Street buses and uncertainty over whether the BC Farmers’ Market nutrition coupon program will transfer to the new management.
Farmers face challenges too. At best their fresh produce, readied for the June 6 market start date is all that will go to waste but all must reapply to council. If unsuccessful they’ll lose a major outlet for their harvests.
In a week in which Nelson has demonstrated respectfully against the injustices of racial inequality and prejudice, council has shown disrespect for us all.
Nelson needs a plan for a just recovery, developed openly in consultation with and recognition of all who live and work here. Just, sustainable recovery needs a realistic budget and a council that recognizes the value of all in our community and of the land upon which we dwell.