Pubdate: Fri, 09 Sep 2016
Source: Nelson Star (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 Black Press
Author: Bill Metcalfe


Mayor Deb Kozak has been asked to present to upcoming conferences
about three city initiatives in which she says the outside world sees
Nelson as being "ahead of the curve."

She and her staff have been invited to make presentations and take
part in panel discussions, one on marijuana legislation and another on
short term rental housing, at the upcoming Union of BC Municipalities
(UBCM) conference in Vancouver this month.

And Kozak will be travelling to Victoria to address a Canadian Mental
Health Association conference about the Nelson Street Culture
Collaborative and its activities.

"It is amazing, as a small city, how much we are able to accomplish
and how we are gaining the attention of other groups and governments,"
Kozak told the Star.

Mental Health

A Canadian Mental Health Association conference in Victoria at the end
of November will address mental health and addiction.

Kozak will talk about the Nelson Street Culture Collaborative, a group
of 36 people from police,social services, faith, mental health,
business, local government, education, health, and public works who
have, over the past 18 months, been exploring how Nelson can better
understand and support those who rely on the street to survive.

She said she will tell the conference about two of the collaborative's
initiatives: hiring two street outreach workers and offering courses
in mental health first aid to businesses, social services workers and
the public.

Short term rentals

Kozak said Nelson is "ahead of the curve by dealing with short term
rentals (such as Airbnb) as quickly as we have. The rest of the
province is interested in the bylaws we are developing to regulate
this. There are many communities who have not begun to work on this."

Over the summer, the city hired an urban planning student, Alex Thumm,
who ran a detailed consultation process that has resulted the city
amending its business licence, zoning, and off-street parking bylaws
and creating a new short term rental business licence. His process
included the participation of many short term rental operators.

This work showed short term rentals to be a broad issue affecting
parking, business licencing,neighbourhood quality, and the long-term
rental housing market.

Kozak will be on a short term rental panel at the UBCM conference with
politicians from Radium,Tofino, and Sun Peaks.


Kozak said she and city manager Kevin Cormack will tell the UBCM
conference that in anticipation of marijuana legalization, the city
has been working with the police, medical marijuana dispensary owners
and the community to prepare for it, and updating its bylaws.

"Although it is not legal at this time, we are monitoring the shops
that are open," she said, "and we are working with police to make sure
they are operating in a safe space and respectful manner, andwe
continue to have a rapport with all these owners. It is not that we
are turning a blind eye - the police visit them regularly and we are
monitoring how it is going.

"We have shut down two of them, and it was because it was obvious they
were selling to minors. And there is one case where people would
resell the product right outside the door. That is not medical
marijuana. And in another one they were smoking on site, and we do not
allow that."

Nelson currently has eight marijuana dispensaries.

The city will also be submitting two resolutions about marijuana to
the UBCM. One will ask the federal and provincial governments for a
coordinated approach to regulation of marijuana and give municipal
governments time and resources to do this when a new federal law is

The second resolution asks that municipal governments receive a fair
share of the revenue from taxation of marijuana sales.

Referring to the marijuana, mental health, and short term rental
initiatives, Kozak said, "It is not just council and city staff doing
this. Our entire community is aware and involved and they don't sit
back and wait for things to happen. They make them happen."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt