Today’s Poll

In profile: Nelson Municipal Election 2022 — Rik Logtenberg

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
October 7th, 2022

This is the fifth 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

Rik was born in Sudbury, Ont. He studied computer science at Western University in London, but left before graduating to create his first of two start-ups in Vancouver.

In 2001, after selling one of the companies, Rik moved to Nelson where he met his wife, Sonja, at the local climbing gym. Together they spent their first few years roaming the mountains as avid hikers, snowboarders, mountain bikers and rock climbers.

Their daughter, Grace, was born in 2011 at the same time that Rik launched his most recent company, Timely. Today, Rik is the chief technology officer (CTO) of Timely, a calendar software company that has more than 100,000 customers in over 160 countries around the world.

Rik has been a software entrepreneur his entire career and brought both a technical and entrepreneurial perspective to his role as city councillor last term.

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?

City staff are unionized, and our collective agreements guarantee cost-of-living increases. Since wages are, by far, the biggest part of our budgets, municipal budgets will increase.

• 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?

I think we do an excellent job of delivering services. I don’t think we need to make any major changes to how services are delivered.

• 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 sits on land that would be very difficult to develop. We don’t know what opportunities will come in the next 10, 20 or 100 years that will lead to the highest use of that land.

We also don’t know how important the airport will be to our future security, as a staging area for wildfire response, for medical evacuations, food drops and more. I think it’s a trap to think that we must develop everything as fast as possible. Sometimes, the smart move is to be patient.

• 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?

Our current council set a target of 75 per cent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

We have the Nelson Next Plan and, in it, 100 tactics to get us there. The actual implementation of those tactics will take a whole-of-community approach.

We have hired a top-notch climate team to provide leadership. We must continue to retrofit our own buildings; promote a community-wide shift away from gas cars to other modes of transportation (walking, biking, transit and ZEVs); reduce consumption overall and promote a circular economy.

One of the biggest things we can do is to support greater density and mixed-land use. Supporting the development of mixed-use compact neighbourhoods is proven to be the most effective way to reduce community emissions, while also making life more affordable, safe and vibrant for everyone.

• 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?

Nelson’s economy is very strong. Tourism is strong. Retail and restaurants are doing well. The Tech sector is strong. People are moving here in droves.

If we want to continue succeeding as a place that attracts talent and investment, we need to protect our natural environment, support outdoor recreation, create a diverse mix of housing, and bring in more doctors.

The three biggest complaints I hear are: inflation; the doctor shortage; and a general labour shortage. These are systemic challenges that we won’t solve in Nelson, but we can continue to fight for provincial action.

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