Councillors share a green vision

Nelson City Council is not the only Council around the country to have seen a shift to younger, greener, more gender balanced and progressive local candidates, but with an historic female majority and the election of 19 year old Rohan O’Neill-Stevens its seems to be leading the charge.  This week in Greenways we talk to O’Niell-Stevens and returning councillor Kate Fulton, who both campaigned on strong green platforms, about their visions for Nelson.

NEC: Rohan, you campaigned on a number of issues including economic rejuvenation, community engagement and arts funding, as well as addressing climate change. What are your top priorities for addressing environmental issues at a local level?

Rohan: There are two strands to this for me. The first is the direct actions council can be taking to ensure our environment is thriving; actively working to mitigate our emissions, supporting our biodiversity and protecting the whenua from further degradation. The second is harnessing the incredible amount of energy and innovation within our community; supporting local groups and organisations, encouraging community-based projects and listening to the expert advice we have on hand.

NEC: Kate, you campaigned specifically on climate action for this election, do you see your votes as a mandate for a greener Nelson?

Kate: Absolutely! Seeking a fourth term on council, I knew a climate campaign could potentially be polarising. I was excited and reassured by the large numbers of people who thanked me for having the courage to take such a strong stance.

NEC: What are your top three priorities for addressing environmental issues in the region during your next term?

Kate: 1, Demonstrating global leadership by rapidly accelerating local responses to the climate emergency declaration. 2, Continue to prioritise restoration of our biodiversity, fresh water, and marine environments. 3, Transformation towards a regenerative economy which places social foundations and ecological living at its heart.   

NEC: Can you see Nelson as a ‘model sustainable city’ in the future? What might that look like?

Rohan: Absolutely. For me it’s not some distant dream but a very achievable reality. It’s a city of pedestrians, public transport, native flora and fauna, innovative technologies, smart construction and high-density housing. It’s a city that centres people and the environment at its heart.

Kate: Definitely yes. NCC has a role to play creating partnership opportunities with organisations like Wakatu, NMIT, NEC, Chamber of Commerce, Cawthron and the Sustainable Business Network to create a smart little city which leads in innovation and action on sustainability. Our proposed City Library Precinct and a new Southern Hemisphere Climatorium would be a feature!

So, the votes are in and if these two are anything to go by, it looks like Nelson has voted for a future that is bright green. 

Holly Cole