Rik Logtenberg, Nelson City Councillor
In the 17 years that I’ve lived in Nelson I’ve never seen smoke and fires as bad as these last 3 summers. If there’s any doubt left that climate change is real*, and the number one issue that will impact our city’s future well-being, I hope this last summer has put that doubt to rest. I’m running for City Council because I want to help Nelson get better prepared for this future.
The best things in my life happened here in Nelson. I met my wife, Sonja, at the Gravity Climbing Gym; we got married at the Catholic Cathedral on Ward and celebrated our wedding at Mountain Waters on Svoboda Road. My daughter, Grace, was born at Kootenay Lake Hospital. I started and grew companies here, one above the old Reo’s and another in the new Jam Factory. I’ve hiked, ridden, skied and climbed in the mountains all around us. And I’ve met so many of my very dearest friends here. Nelson is my second family. Nelson is my home. And I think most of us who live here feel the same.
But we can’t take our great lifestyle for granted anymore. Nelson will not continue to be the safe and nurturing place we want for our families without a lot of fresh ideas, good will, and hard work. Climate change threatens everything. We are at the top of the list when it comes to BC cities threatened by wildfire. And we face risks from flooding, drought, watershed damage and more. If we’re not committed and energized to get in front of these problems, I worry that Nelson won’t have the bright future we once took for granted.
I’m running for City Council because everything else that we care about — our children, our elders, our culture, an affordable rural lifestyle in a modern artistic city — will get overwhelmed if we’re struggling for breath or obsessed about saving our homes.
A big part of the solution is contained in Nelson’s Path to 2040 Sustainability Strategy and I think that City Council should continue to make decisions with that plan top-of-mind. But we also need to remember that it’s only a guide. It will take fresh ideas and a lot of collaboration with the Regional District, the province, and the federal government, to build on the great work already being done. If we make climate change mitigation and adaptation a priority today, we’ll be able to tap into millions of dollars of outside funding. And then we can undertake the projects that will help us thrive over the next 20 years and beyond.
One of the best things about running for city council has been meeting the dynamic and dedicated people who work for our social non-profits. These heroes are the main support for people living in poverty and people who are marginalized. What I didn’t fully appreciate until recently is just how much these non-profits are the city’s essential partners in creating the peaceful and safe-feeling public spaces that we all enjoy. Given the challenges we will face in the coming years, council needs to continue to nurture and deepen that partnership.
Small Business and Entrepreneurialism
From my background as an entrepreneur and small business owner, and member of our tech community, I believe that we have lots of opportunity to nurture local innovation, as well as create new sustainable industries and markets. I also believe that these developments will help us navigate the worst that climate change will bring while strengthening the tax base that we’ll need to maintain and upgrade our infrastructure. I’m sometimes accused of being a techno-optimist, thinking that entrepreneurialism is a solution to many of the world’s challenges. I wouldn’t go that far; I recognize that an obsession with profit is at the root of much evil. But I do admit to believing that entrepreneurs are among the world’s best problem solvers, and it will benefit us to give them the space (and the occasional support) that they need to thrive. Nelson has more tech companies and remote workers than people realize, and they bring in tens of millions of dollars to our community. I hope to recruit this community to do even more for Nelson and the Kootenays.
I believe that healthy kids are the very core of a healthy city. As a father, I’ve seen how Nelson’s sports and arts communities are playing a key role in forging my daughter’s resilience, creativity and leadership, and helping her develop a healthy and positive view of the world. Our kids need the Rec Centre and gyms, arenas and sports fields, Youth Centre, skate park, mountain bike trails, art galleries, museums, dance studios, library and theatres. These venues, and the sports and activities they host, provide an essential counter balance to the powerful addiction to social media and video games.
And I think our teenagers need to be more involved in creating their future city. Yes, as adults, it’s our job to give them every opportunity to thrive, but they must take responsibility for their own future as well. I propose calling on our high school and college students to become more active in civic life, whether by creating space for more young entrepreneurialism and volunteerism, or by establishing action groups where youth have real power to shape their future city. Young people are full of energy and ideas, and if we can include them in the conversation now, they’re more likely to join with the work that needs to be done.
Respect and Collaboration
And finally, I believe that the sniping and backbiting that plagues public life needs to end. Debate, yes, personals attacks? Obviously no! If we don’t tolerate this behaviour in our children, why are we behaving this way as adults? I believe we can achieve much more as a city if we constantly strive to see the good in each other. I believe that only together, with mutual trust and respect, will we get these very big jobs done.
* I recognize that these bad fire seasons have a lot to do with how we’ve managed our forests over the last 50 years. But the longer spells of hot dry weather and pests like Pine Beetle, caused by a warming climate, are making a bad situation much worse.