Nelson Municipal Election 2011: Deb Kozak sees much left to achieve on municipal stage
By Deb Kozak
Our family moved to Nelson nearly 29 years ago from Saskatchewan or, as my partner Peter jokingly refers to it, the middle East.
He is pretty funny. I guess that’s one of the reasons we’ve been together for over 30 years. It was work that brought us here and the people and surroundings that inspired us to stay, raise our two kids and continue to be a part of Nelson and all that this area has to offer.
I am inspired by the diverse nature of this community, from its people and the numerous cultural and physical activities we can participate in on any given day, to the independent, innovative thinkers that abound in this region.
Nelson is not a quiet, retiring place. It is a place where people can and do pursue what their hearts desire. We truly do have it all.
Like most who choose to live here and be self-employed, I’ve done a variety of things for work. I began in aquatics then moved on to working with people with disabilities and their families to build friendships and prepare wills and estates.
I’ve facilitated planning sessions for small businesses, volunteer groups and individuals. I’ve been an employment counsellor and a business manager for the non-profit sector. Most recently I facilitated training to assist businesses and community groups to welcome newcomers to our community.
I’m an engaged community volunteer with Kootenay Coop Radio and I’ve volunteered and chaired boards locally and provincially — and I was humbled and proud to receive Nelson’s Citizen of the Year award in 1989. All of this has given me a strong understanding of our own community and how we interact with others.
I decided to run for a third term with a couple of things in mind: what I’ve done and what I hope to achieve.
One of my original goals was to strengthen regional relationships. We’ve come a long way in working together with our neighbours. As chair of the regional Recreation Commission, I was pleased when the location for the long awaited outdoor skatepark was determined.
The commission will be spearheading a recreation master planning process in the new year. This plan will identify cultural and leisure needs well into the future and guide the development of programs and facilities.
I was also very pleased to welcome Areas E and F to the Nelson and Area Economic Development Partnership. The economic health of our community is not confined to city limits, but includes the larger region.
The Partnership connects business owners to the supports and opportunities needed for success. As well, I am an executive member on the Association of Kootenay Boundary Local Governments. I’m currently chairing the committee that is delivering information sessions on the Columbia River Treaty.
I am also working with another group dedicated to identifying regional projects for economic development in partnership with the Columbia Basin Trust.
What one issue has really been ignored in the last years (or years) in Nelson?
This council has addressed some tough issues in the past few years. Infrastructure, affordable housing and sustainability planning to name a few.
We haven’t solved things completely but planning has been put in place and action plans are unfolding in each of these areas. One issue that needs to be addressed is parks and facilities planning.
What do you see as one of the biggest problems Nelson has to deal with next?
Levels of service and cost. For a small community, Nelson offers many services and it is a constant balancing act to maintain services at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.
What is your view on …
… the City having its own police force?
- I like that we have a local police force that is overseen by a local board of citizens. As mentioned earlier, the challenge continues to be the balance between levels of service and cost. We continue to look for other sources of revenue to subsidize policing costs.
… Sunday bus service?
- Council is currently reviewing this change and how to provide Sunday service in partnership with community.
… waterfront development?
- The recently completed downtown and waterfront master plan includes plans for the undeveloped portions and the future redevelopment of other areas of the waterfront. It supports mixed development with two new parks at either end that will complete the vision of the waterfront pathway. I believe the waterfront belongs to everyone in the community and whatever we can do to enhance access is a good thing.
… development in general?
- Planned and sustainable. Build on what we have and prepare for future changes in climate, population and the economy.
… the Civic Centre and its (lack of) theatre?
- The Civic Centre has served the community for over 75 years. The city is just completing a facility assessment that will inform council and staff on what needs to be addressed in the building. With that information, we can move forward on possible uses and tenants. I am looking forward to the recreation master planning process and how the Civic Centre can evolve to continue to serve Nelson. I’ve also been in conversation with people in Salmon Arm who have a theatre that has been operated successfully by a non-profit society for many years. If there is interest in that model here, it could be a possibility. I remain open to the possibility of bids from the private sector as well.
… allowing dogs on Baker Street?
- There was, and I think still is, a group of business people very interested in revisiting the dog bylaw. I think it’s time council takes another look at it.
… making Nelson more of a tourist destination?
- Considering the number of recent articles I’ve seen and the efforts of our tourism based business owners, I don’t think we need to be concerned about people discovering Nelson. Recently, we met with a delegation from Sandpoint Idaho who are interested in partnerships and tourism. • water rates for downtown business? It’s time to revise an outdated system of billing and staff has been directed to come back to Council before 2012 budget deliberations with recommendations.
… eliminating parking on Baker Street?
- Until we as a society eliminate our need for cars or personal transportation, there will be a need for some parking. More efficient public and shared transportation is alleviating some of that need. As well, Nelson has one of the highest populations who choose to walk. Council implemented an active transportation plan that enhances walking routes and I see this trend continuing. I think there are other possibilities for activity on Baker Street especially in the summer months.
… the Canucks chance of getting back to the Stanley Cup final?