Prince Rupert City Councillor Nick Adey wants to be the guy at the end of the phone who is approachable and residents want to tell their stories to.
The Northern View reached out to members of our city’s council to hear what their goals are for 2021 and what issues they hold dear to them.
Adey said he likes to hear from city residents to stay in touch.
“Sometimes they call up to say that something has been really good, which is always nice to hear. Quite often, it’s not that I have the answer for them, it may not even be that I can solve their problem, but I can be the person that knows in which direction they should go,” he said. “I can be the person that picks up the phone and talks to whatever level of city management, or whoever needs to know about this procedural concern.”
Adey said it’s the work that many don’t see, like perhaps arranging for a yellow stripe to be painted on the road curb for safety, that he calls ‘quiet work’.
“But it’s very quiet and it’s ongoing. To me, that’s one of the most important pieces of the work that I do is to leave people feeling like they were listened to and hopefully, progress was made on whatever those concerns are.”
“That liaison role, I think is really important,” Adey said. The second point of importance to Councillor Adey is to balance what is being accomplished in terms of big development plans. He said development is needed because that is how the economy is going to advance and for example, how the city is going to have funds to address infrastructure problems that may exist.
Adey said balance is required for the big picture and initiative pieces such as working with the port, First Nations, and various levels of government compared to the other side of living in a city where residents are concerned about potholes in the road, how the house down the street looks or what can be seen.
“It’s not literal stuff, but it seems like little stuff, comparative to negotiating with the Port Authority and so on with big things, so trying to balance those two levels of activity,” he said.
Adey has been on council for two years. He said his first year was without COVID-19 and the second was with COVID-19 restrictions. He misses the personal connection with constituents that he would develop during attending public events which he said draws people together and teaches lessons.
“So these things are really important, but they’re also a chance for me to meet people and be a part of community groups. I really enjoy that aspect of it. It’s been very difficult to feel the same level of connection with various groups and organizations who do wonderful work in town. That connection is gone.”
The city councillor said it becomes important for him to pay attention more to social media to see what is happening with responses such as something as small as a “like” or something larger like picking up the phone to reach out.
“Paying attention to that, without the capacity to have these events to bring people together, has been really, really challenging,” Adey said. “I suppose somebody who is not a complete municipal news watcher person might think, ‘Boy, they’re quiet, we never hear from them,’ Part of that is the media. We’re all living in our little isolated bubbles, and the ways in which you would hear from us are much more limited. So that has been challenging.”
“The whole notion of revitalizing the community is really important to me. It means a lot of things – obviously, it means a lot of money as well,” he said.
Living in Prince Rupert since 1983, Adey said he remembers when Third Ave was ‘a really happening place’. He understands that people want it to be that way again, but three things have happened since those days, he said that need to be kept in mind.
“The one thing that happened obviously is the mill closed, and the population of the town shrunk by a third – so fewer people. Then Amazon and online shopping happened … so that’s a change,” he said. “The third change is that some of the commercial location and activity has changed in the sense that Cowbay didn’t exist back then as a commercial area. So to expect that Third Avenue is magically going to be relatively healthy businesses from McBride street all the way to five corners – it’s not really very realistic.”
“The exciting part of the revitalization piece to me is the commercial footprint of the town makes sense related to the size of the market that it exists in,” Adey said. “If we can create that kind of feeling – that you’re in the commercial area, it’s going to be a little more compact, more concentrated in a smaller piece of downtown and into Cowbay. I’m really excited about that.”
Adey said there is a second issue related if this is succeeded and the economy improves as well as population expansion occurs.
“(Revitalization) that’s a really good thing. But we have to make sure that in the process of that growth, we don’t leave behind the people whose needs are the deepest,” Adey said.
“So, you know, if in a vibrant, prosperous economy, maybe the rents are higher, well, the people who get hurt by that the most are the people who can’t afford to pay the rent as it is. So (we need to make sure) that growth has a focus that includes ‘what do we do to make sure that nobody gets left behind’.”
The third issue stemming from growth for Adey is to address green changes.
“So for example, if it allows us to deal with wastewater treatment, I’m really excited to know that there’s a possibility that we’re looking at ways that allow that to be a much greener process,” he said, giving further examples of curbside recycling and electric vehicle recharging stations.
“Wherever change happens, what can we do to make it address in some way the need to be greener in terms of how we do the things we do,” he said. “Finding a way to navigate that change, in a way that’s greener, I think is really important as well.”
Adey said he has learned a lot of things during his time on council.
“One of the things that I’ve learned … it’s become very clear to me in the last two years is there are very few issues that are absolutely right, wrong, black, white … Everything, I think, is just the art of compromise, and governing well, is the art of making wise compromise.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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