Nelson mayor Rachel Reese has backed down on a move to split the community services committee in two – an issue that has caused friction between Nelson city councillors over the past few months.
The decision was announced at this morning’s ordinary council meeting as part of the Mayor’s Report, with Reese stating that “she is not going to pursue the establishment of a sports and recreation committee.”
The issue has resulted in some tense moments between Reese and mayoral candidate and committee chair, Pete Rainey, during the last two council meetings.
Rainey, who has chaired the community services committee since 2007, saw the move as a demotion, as it would have taken responsibility for sport and recreation away from his committee.
The mayor announced the establishment of the new committee in early March, which was to be chaired by deputy mayor, Paul Matheson.
Reese stated back then that feedback from the community indicated that there is a growing desire for an additional focus on sport and recreation, including mountain biking, the marina strategy and the campground review.
The new committee was intended to “mirror” the current community services committee and membership would have stayed the same for both committees.
When the matter was brought up at last month’s extraordinary council meeting, Rainey said he was “extremely disappointed” and found the lack of consultation around the change of structure “particularly unsettling.”
Reese said in her report today that she thanked councillors who had been supportive of offering additional assistance via a new committee structure, and remains disappointed that assistance has not been accepted but will endeavour to find alternative solutions to meet the community’s needs.
“The community needs connection on a human level and I encourage members to get out and talk to groups – I encourage that through my office,” she said.
Councillor Mike Ward congratulated the mayor on her decision, saying that “backing down takes some courage.”