Council relationship fine, ‘sustainable lens’ in all decisions, says incumbent John Dooley
The EcoCentric host Bruce Edson rolled out the red carpet to all candidates for the mayor’s chair in Nelson.
All three candidates, current Nelson City Councilor Deb Kozak, retired Nelson Police officer Pat Severyn and incumbent Mayor John Dooley, graciously accepted the invitation of The EcoCentric host Bruce Edson.
In the last of the mayoral candidate interviews by The EcoCentric on Kootenay Co-op Radio, John Dooley talked about the role of a mayor, how council is working, sustainable development, waste reduction and climate change.
Citing his nine years of experience, Dooley said a mayor’s role is to build consensus, act as a liaison to council and, above all, be a good facilitator.
“I always believe in the theory of ‘hard on issues, easy on people’,” he said in response to a question about his relationship with City Council.
“When I first became Mayor our community and our council was in conflict.”
“I would challenge anyone to search the headlines and find a conflict we’ve had in Council where I was on opposite sides. I may have had a different opinion, but when Council made their decision I was fully supportive of what happened around the table.”
Dooley said managing finances is one of Nelson’s biggest challenges, and the budget process was a good example.
“When you talked about working with Council – during the budget process is an example of where we bang heads – we work very hard,” he said.
“That’s part of the role and responsibility of Council – to make sure their views are known.”
“For those who think it’s a love-in at city hall, around making decisions on the budget and the costs of operating a municipality, its not,” Dooley added. “It’s hard work. We have limited resources and have to make sure they are directed in the right manner.”
Dooley was confident the city is on track to addressing what he called its infrastructure deficit.
“We have a 20-year plan in place for water rebuild,” he said.
“We have a 21-year plan in place for sewer rebuild, a 20 year plan in place for sidewalks and roads, we also have a 10 year plan in place for upgrade and rebuild of our hydro. We have stayed on task all the way through.”
When asked about the recent removal of the sustainability requirements for infrastructure projects funded under the federal Gas Tax Fund, Dooley said that all projects are looked at through a “sustainable lens”.
Until this summer, the $2 Billion dollar program required that projects show specific results related to cleaner air, cleaner water, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
“Some people look at sustainability as an environmental piece, but it has many components,“ he said. “We look at every project we do through that lens.”
“Whether it’s a building permit that comes in, whether it’s a rebuild of a sidewalk, we look at: ‘is this sustainable”, ‘does this meet our goals for sustainability?”
“The Gas Tax Fund is still funding that.”
Regarding waste reduction, Dooley accented that Nelson must harmonize with regional initiatives, and that the city is moving along with a step-by-step plan.
“First of all we had a recycling, program, then we wanted to look at a new waste management program, the next thing we are going to work on now is the composting program.”
“Within the next three years, you should see a comprehensive composting program.”
“We recently signed on the MMBC program, where we will be recycling much more product than we have in the past.”
Regarding any potential expansion of the EcoSave program, Dooley accented the importance of outreach and ensuring the program has the capacity to handle any increase in uptake.
Climate change is a municipal responsibility, Dooley said, while noting he was the second mayor to sign the Climate Action Charter in BC. He said Nelson will meet the targets set out in the Charter, and most projects have showed a cost payback within 10 years.
“I am proud that once again Nelson is a leader when it comes to protecting our environment, reducing our carbon and commitment to climate action and climate change,” he said.
“We are going to start working now on how we deal with climate mitigation – flash floods and so forth – that’s our next big focus.”