“Creativity Starts When You Cut a Zero from Your Budget”

I had a huge amount of traffic on my post about the Nelson Police Department’s request for an additional $310,000 for their annual budget. While I think my post was a fairly thorough examination of the issue, I’d like to add two more points.

Point 1: Crime is not a huge concern for most Nelsonites

First, I want to point out that crime in Nelson is simply not a top-of-mind concern for most citizens. According to a survey conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the city in 2012, only 2% of Nelson citizens identified crime as the most important issue facing our community, and another 2% identified it as their second pick. The norm for most of the communities surveyed was 12%.

In other words, most Nelsonites are far less worried about crime than people in other communities. By comparison, we’re almost five times more worried about taxes and government spending than we are about crime.


From the 2012 Nelson Citizen Satisfaction Survey — Ipsos Reid

So the question is… why would we want to focus so many of our limited financial resources (i.e. tax dollars) on something that simply is not a top issue for most citizens? Should we not instead be focusing our attention on the issues that are top of mind?

Point 2: I support the NPD’s request for a restorative justice coordinator and additional victim services

The police request was not just for two new constables and administrative support staff. It was also for funding for a restorative justice coordinator and additional victim services. I absolutely support these endeavours. And while it was not mentioned in this budget request, I think we should investigate the possibility of providing funding to train officers in how to better deal with mental health issues in our community.

It wasn’t long ago that Chief Holland’s request for support for a Car 87 program was denied by Interior Health. As usual, the provincial government has downloaded yet another problem to local government. While mental health services should be a provincial responsibility, I think we should investigate how we can step up as a municipality. Perhaps we cannot afford to support a Car 87 program in its entirety, but we may be able to wrangle a solution that supports our police in helping those who suffer from mental health issues.

“Creativity starts when you cut a zero from your budget.”

One of my heroes is Jamie Jaime Lerner, former mayor of Curtitaba, Brazil. (Watch his inspiring TED talk if you get a chance.) I had an opportunity to interview Lerner for CBC a few years ago. Not many people have heard of the guy, but his efforts turned the city of Curtitiba into a model for local governments around the world. He turned a traffic-infested city in a developing country into a well-run urban oasis full of parks and thriving neighbourhoods.

His dictum: “Creativity starts when you cut a zero from your budget.”

On November 15, please remember to VOTE. You are eligible to vote in Nelson if you are 18 years or older, have lived in BC for at least six months, and are a Canadian citizen.  You do not need to own property to vote. All you need is two pieces of ID. At least one piece must have a signature and/or provide proof of residency. Details on what you can use HERE.

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