Michael Dailly, city council election candidate, shares his views on local issues
Michael Dailly was the first non-incumbent candidate to enter this fall’s municipal election for city councillor. He and his wife have lived in Nelson for five years, and in that time he’s served on the board of Nelson Cares and as a member of Transition Nelson.
Before moving to Nelson, Dailly retired from a 30-year career with the Toronto fire service where he was a fire captain. And for about ten of those years, he was an executive officer of the Toronto Firefighters Association, working closely with city council on labour relations issues. He was also the vice-president of the Toronto Downs Syndrome Society.
The Nelson Daily, in a telephone interview today, asked Michael Dailly a wide range of questions about his candidacy.
Why did you decide to run?
I love Nelson and I am going to make it my home for the rest of my life. I care about the community and I believe I have something offer. I have a fair bit of experience working with boards and committees. When something like this is in front of me, I step into it. I am someone who gets into the middle of things and likes to take action. I like to be a player.
On your Facebook page you mention four issues you are most concerned about as a candidate. I’d like to ask about what you think Council should be doing in each those areas. First, you said you want to help grow the local economy.
Small businesses people are really the economy of Nelson. This is about what they need to grow their business, to bring in more business. We have been getting some really good press in Nelson lately, but I think it is also about talking to the business owners and seeing what they need.
How could council do better than it does now, in that area?
I think they have a good relationship, but I know that the individual business owners, when I speak to them individually, they feel their taxes are fairly high and it is difficult getting permits, and I want to look at how can we make that easier for them.
The second priority you listed was to strengthen health care and social services. What do you think council should be doing in that area?
We have to press harder and further, and not give up the fight that our police chief Holland has started with trying to get a mental health professional in a police car. We need more services. We have a high percentage of folks in Nelson who are struggling, and the services are overwhelmed. Again this ties in with the local economy: if we provide the services we need, we will be creating more jobs in Nelson.
We need to appeal to provincial levels to get more services and funding. I think there is an argument to be made that if Nelson is attracting more people who have a higher need for social services, then our funding for social services should be higher, proportional to the need. In our population we have a greater need than the average.
Why do you think we have more people in greater need?
Because it is an attractive place to live. But why we have a higher proportion, I don’t have an answer for that.
Your third priority was that we need more affordable housing. What do you think council should be doing in that area?
Donna Macdonald had some wise advice, that we look and see what is being done elsewhere; and Jim Reimer, with his idea for a backpackers type camp. All of these kinds of pieces need to be put together, there will not be one answer that will solve affordable housing because the people that are homeless need mental health care or addiction support so they can get off the street.
But also there are people working at minimum wage and need to have more affordable rental housing, because even people working at minimum wage can’t afford housing.
The other level is people who want to purchase a house.
What should council be doing about this lack of affordable housing?
I think they need to ensure that development is not just for rich people coming from Calgary and Vancouver. We need to create housing that is affordable to people not coming from those places, so the city needs to negotiate with the developers to ensure there is an affordable housing portion in their developments.
How would city council fund that?
Well, they do this now, they negotiate with developers. For example, the ten units going in near the golf course, they negotiated that two units of the ten should be 850 square feet. That is a move in the right direction. Those are going to be around $250,000, more affordable than the other eight units.
Also they have negotiated $250 per door (from the developer) that goes into an affordable housing fund. I think we need to be tougher in our negotiations, and be looking for more money to go into the affordable housing fund. Maybe we need to look at properties that Nelson owns, and offer it to developers to develop affordable rental properties. It is a multi-level issue.
Your fourth stated priority was to look after the needs of seniors. How would you do that?
It is about recognizing that there is that large portion of the population in Nelson that has needs. There are some programs now that are looking at making Nelson age- friendly, starting to map the resources for seniors. One thing that is lacking is transportation—we need to ensure they have the transportation they need.
Also, a lot of seniors need health care and can not get it locally and so they are having go to Trail, Kelowna or Vancouver and we need to find ways to ensure we have a place where a person could go and see a specialist or have a follow-up at the hospital, and maybe do a video type hook-up rather than have them travel.
How would the city do that when health is not in its jurisdiction?
Even though it may not come under the city’s mandate, our job as representatives of the citizens of Nelson is to make an appeal to those agencies that are responsible for those things.
What has this current council done well, in your opinion?
I think they have paid attention to the infrastructure of the city and they are spending money where they need to, in upgrading water and sewer and electrical and I say bravo to that, and to whatever they did to encourage broadband coming, and to supporting community theatre.
I think John Dooley represents the town very well, and he chairs the meetings well and moves them along.
What has the current council not done so well?
They have not got along very well. They didn’t listen to the community as well as they could have. They spent too much time on their differences and not enough on finding solutions and in some ways it is polarized.
It should be a simple thing to get Christmas lights on Baker. If you are going to give up putting screws in trees, then you do it. One side was saying we don’t want screws in trees and having to maintain the lights, and now it has gone to a consultant and I think that is ridiculous. People dug in and took positions and didn’t find middle ground.
How should the city best communicate with the public?
They have consulted with the community fairly well. But when I am out talking to people and business people it is amazing the dichotomy of opinions I am getting. Within our population there are people who have opposing views, and as a representative I would have to decide, how do I represent those people and how do I decide what’s best.
They have just gone electronic with Facebook, but one-way communication only. The city saying what is going on, as opposed to two-way, and I understand that has to do with how much work for someone in the city to do that.
We do have the Committee of the Whole where people can come monthly, and I really see great ideas coming before the city. I am curious about why certain things have not been implemented, with the progressive reputation we have, that we don’t have a bylaw about chickens and bees in the backyards, as they have in other communities. There is a bit of a gap between our reputation and what we are doing, in some ways.
Another example is dogs on Baker, a polarizing issue. We may have some young people with big mean dogs and we don’t want them on Baker, but there may be some tourists with little teacup dogs that want to come and spend money and we are deterring that. So how can we help our local businesses by ensuring that their shoppers are not encumbered by not being able to have a dog? I have heard stories where people come to town and one stays in the car with the dog while the other person shops. How are they going to sit down in a restaurant together?
Are you saying you are against the dog bylaw?
Yes, I am.
What do you think about the plans to re-design Hall Street?
There is a lot of value to it. I am looking forward to seeing the parking meters gone—they are going to put in a parking pass machine. They are going to have a mall at the top of Hall that is going to be for markets and vendors. We need a little square like that downtown. I am still not sold on the second half, on the idea that walking down Hall to the Prestige is the way to get people down to the water. The first half between Vernon and north of Baker I think it is a great idea and I really hope there will be a public bathroom on Baker Street as well.
You have been attending council meetings lately. What are your impressions of them?
I think everyone is well meaning and working hard, and my impression is that there is a group on council that is pro-development and conservative, and there is a progressive green-thinking element, and often there is a struggle to get something done, because those positions are difficult to reconcile.
Where would you fit in that spectrum?
I see opportunities where I could facilitate an understanding, and ensure that both sides of an issue are heard, and then reason out what is the best way to go, and find a win-win.
Where would you have stood on the issue of approving Nelson Landing and the golf course condo development?
I think I would have asked for more from the developers. Affordable housing (discussed above) is just one piece. There were a lot of people unhappy with the Kootenay Landing development. I hear that on the street, people who live in that neighbourhood that feel it got pushed through. But I don’t know, I don’t have an experience of that because I don’t live there. But that kind of thing to me is disturbing. When people have things explained to them, they generally say, “I get why they are doing this but I don’t necessarily agree.” They don’t say, “I don’t feel heard and I am angry about that.” Something has been missed in communication.
When I look at the Official Community Plan and the Path to 2040, I am not sure we are taking all the advice we have gotten from those and applying it as well as intended. I didn’t even hear them mentioned other than, “Well, it met the plan.” If we are going to continue to build $500,000 units, we are going to be out of affordable housing, we are going to have no entry level housing for our kids, who will have to go live somewhere else.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I hope we have more than a 30% turnout in November. I hope people take an interest, and I hope we have a lot more candidates that come forward.