Today’s Poll

In profile: Nelson Municipal Election 2022 – Jesse Woodward

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
October 5th, 2022

This is the second of a series of inside looks at the candidates for city council — both councillor and mayor — prior to the general municipal election on Oct. 15.

Biography: a closer view

The West Kootenays have been my home for more than half my life.

I was raised in the Slocan Valley, married in New Denver and have worked professionally and raised my own family in Nelson and the RDCK. I would not want to be anywhere else but here, this is my home through and through.

I have been employed, over the last 10 years, in frontline, management-level, community development positions (Nelson Farmers Market manager and Nelson Community Food Centre Food Bank coordinator) with the goal of helping this town and region thrive, prosper and grow in a healthy, sustainable way.

If I am privileged enough to be re-elected I will continue to work on readying Nelson for the massive changes that the climate crisis will bring to our region over the next five to 10 years. This work will include further, carefully planned, wildfire mitigation actions, strengthening regional networks for climate change responses and boosting local food security systems wherever possible.

I will also continue to advocate for further innovative solutions to the local housing crisis and strengthening the city working relationship with our vital local social services organizations and programs.

I will carry on with promoting and working for policies that strengthen the vitality of our local business community and our unique heritage downtown core. I will also advocate for the continual city asset renewal process where and when it is needed by making sure Nelson has healthy capital reserves so taxes don’t have to be raised suddenly when very expensive asset replacements come due.

Here are a few examples of some of the work and policy actions that I was most focused on, helped in their development, and finally voted for their implementation over the last four years on Nelson city council:

• the “Nelson Next” comprehensive climate action plan for our city;

• City e-Bike financing program;

• increased Nelson Hydro funding for their vegetation management program;

• Active Transportation infrastructure and bike route development;

• Selous Creek water main extension to the city main water reservoir;

• City Emergency Operation Centre completion and hiring an Emergency Management coordinator;

• pandemic response 25 Point Economic Stimulus and Financial Stability Action Plan; and

• wildfire mitigation work on the city’s forest interfaces.

Also, I deeply connect with the sayings “many hands make light work,” and “if you want to go far … go together,” so I will continue to encourage healthy and solid relationships across the many sectors of operations within the City of Nelson and with the citizens and organizations in our shared community.

This is what I have based most of my council decisions and votes on over the last four years and will continue in that line of policy development and actions if I am re-elected to Nelson city council.

The following are a series of questions posed to all candidates:

• With the cost of doing business increasing for everyone, including the City of Nelson, how does the city keep budgets in municipal departments from rising annually by the rate of inflation, or is the situation inevitable?

Continual rising costs of all products across the board, supply chain issues and disruptions, after effects of the pandemic, climate change weather effects and the massive damage they cause, the uncertainty of the conflict in Ukraine and destabilization in the global stock markets all add up to a very volatile and unpredictable economic landscape.

Without a doubt costs will continue to rise and the City of Nelson has to be right on top of that so it can manage and maintain its workforce, infrastructure and finances over the long haul.

This means not falling behind on all of its responsibilities and commitments as a municipality, so as the cost of doing this business goes up the city must include these cost increases in all of its budgets and tax implications so it can maintain top levels of service and management for the local community at large.

• Compared to its sister cities of Trail and Castlegar, Nelson has double or triple the workforce of those municipalities. Part of the reason for that expanded workforce is that Nelson has its own police force, utility company and public library, to name a few. Should there be a move to change the way those services are delivered, or do we need to support them with more resources?

Our local services like the police force, fire department, Nelson Hydro and the library are critical pieces in making Nelson the amazing, complex, unique and wonderful place that it is.

These local city services know our community through and through, and due to this they are able to deliver excellent levels of quality services to the citizens of Nelson in a timely and efficient manner.

We are lucky to have these local services and infrastructure and they should be well supported for the benefit of our community as a whole for the long term. They are a large part of what makes Nelson the incredible city that it is.

• The Nelson Airport occupies a significant piece of real estate in the city. How should the airport be viewed and should it, or shouldn’t it, be kept?

The Nelson Airport is a vital part of the Nelson landscape and history and offers multiple co-benefits such as wildfire control staging ground, emergency medical evacuations and tourism services as well as local airplane and helicopter use.

The land that the airport is built on is infill, so large, heavy infrastructure cannot be built directly on top of it, and that is why the airport works well in its current location and use.

The Nelson Airport delivers many diverse benefits to our local community and economy and its upkeep is important for Nelson future needs especially as climate change effects accelerate the airport will be needed more than ever. 

• Climate change is affecting every area of society and how we conduct business, as well as making us aware of how we consume resources. How can the city do its part to reverse its effect, and move the city further (and faster) down the road it is already on to becoming carbon neutral?

The “Nelson Next” extensive and detailed community and city-generated climate action plan, and the City of Nelson new climate and energy department were developed to tackle what this question is asking directly.

The City of Nelson is focused and committed to taking concrete action to reduce its climate impacts, and we now have the plan and the team in place to do just this. Nelson is now a leader in B.C. in this regard and we are now modeling what a small city can do to play its part in tackling the global climate crisis.

We are a small city but we have a deep responsibility, like everyone else, to do our part in terms of helping to slow the climate change crisis, and this is exactly what we are currently doing and will continue to do over the long haul.

• Every community and province has been hard hit by the economic restrictions enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic. What (further) city-led initiatives can be reasonably undertaken to stimulate the local economy?

During the pandemic the City of Nelson developed the “Pandemic response 25 Point Economic Stimulus and Financial Stability Action Plan” and the “Municipal Operations Relaunch Strategy,” as well as moving forward on a number of infrastructure projects with pandemic grant funding that was on offer through the provincial and federal governments.

This was all meant to stimulate, bolster and help to guide our local community and economy during and after the pandemic.

As the pandemic fades into the background the city continues to try to help and support the local business community, the arts and culture sector and the local community at large recover and thrive once again through support and policy decisions where and when it can.

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