The one topic that has been front and centre in Nelson for the last few years was the running theme at the All-Candidates forum on Tuesday night.
Central School’s gymnasium was filled wall-to-wall with eligible voting Nelsonites — an estimated 450 people — to hear 16 candidates for council and two for mayor expound on their reasons for running for municipal office.
Each candidate spoke in turn on their reasons for throwing a hat into the ring, with nearly half of the comments focused on affordable housing and the high costs associated with obtaining it.
Although the city and its elected officials have little effect on the rental and real estate market values in the city, many people were concerned about the rising prices that were driving people and their families out of the city and into rural areas, or the neighbouring communities.
The slate of candidates featured a cross section of Nelsonites, with several people who once served on council — including former mayor John Dooley — and several who were seeking re-election, such as Deb Kozak (mayor), Bob Adams, Robin Cherbo and Janice Morrison.
After brief autobiographies and intentions were out of the way, the candidates were asked to speak briefly on what they felt were the top two or three issues facing the city and its residents.
Along with affordable housing, climate change was also a frequently raised topic, with many people concerned about its effect in the city, as well as the danger posed by increasingly hot summers and forest fire risks.
One candidate, Rob Richichi, spoke about eliminating many of the upper management positions and saving over $1.5 million in salary. He felt it could save the city over $1.5 million if they reduced the number of managers.
In all there are 19 candidates for city council and three names for the mayor’s seat — incumbent Kozak and challengers Dooley and Bernie Brown.
Voting Day is Saturday, October 20th. In Nelson, polls are open at Central School (811 Stanley Street) from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
There is one remaining Advance Polling Day at Nelson City Hall at 310 Ward Street (second floor) on Wednesday, October 17 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Councilor candidate Keith page asked for a show of support — a silent clapping — after asking people’s opinions on several issues. — Photo: