Tasman District Council Moutere-Waimea Ward candidate Julie Nevin wants resilience and sustainability to be at the forefront of local body decision making.
“There’s a movement among the communities that I’m part of … to ask every sector to get to carbon neutral, to stop the way that we are damaging our world,” Nevin said. “It seems like it’s something that needs to be in every decision that council makes. I understand that TDC has had that perspective in the room up to a point and I’d just like to progress that point.”
Nevin is part of Zero Carbon Nelson Tasman and a founding member of Extinction Rebellion Nelson, part of an international socio-political movement that uses non-violent direct action to persuade governments to act on climate change.
Extinction Rebellion had been important for building “a public mandate for change and I think they’ve done that really well across the world”, Nevin said.
“This [standing for council] feels like the next piece of the puzzle, if you like, trying to build that same momentum for change within local government in this region.”
Nevin said she had been encouraged to stand for a place around the council table.
“It feels vulnerable to put yourself in the public eye and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to commit to what could be a confrontation space for three years,” she said. “[However], it feels to me like I need to. I’m privileged enough to be in this country, in this place with the time to do it.”
Nevin got qualifications in psychology and education before working as a primary school teacher “on and off” for about 10 years.
“Along the way, I did some more training in communication … and I took that into businesses for a while,” she said. “For the last five years, I’ve been a mum at home and while I did that, I went to Massey University and I’ve been studying environmental studies with a bit of social policy in there and I had thought of going into writing sustainable policy.”
Instead, she hoped to put her expertise to work helping the council “future proof” its decisions about land use, housing, transport and infrastructure. Nevin wanted to work with Tasman district communities to “face our environmental challenges and tailor make” solutions.
“I’d like to see, for example, exploration of a business case into a council-owned or community-owned renewable energy scheme,” she said.
On the issue of transport, Nevin said she wanted fewer cars on the roads.
“How we get there, in a way, doesn’t really matter,” she said. “What matters is that using your car stops being the most convenient and affordable way to travel – at least for a single-person car. Whether that looks like ride sharing or some of the more controversial ideas like fewer parking spaces or more expensive parking in the city … I don’t know, but what I do think is that it’s time for Tasman to rethink how it does its transport.”
She wanted to look “with an academic’s eye” at the evidence around the cost effectiveness of buses. One consideration would be whether the baselines were equal regarding the economics of car use versus bus provision.
Car use was subsidised by central and local government, Nevin said.
“When you think about the parking spaces provided, for example. There’s a certain amount of maintenance … there’s staffing that’s required to patrol it,” she said. “There’s all the other infrastructure that goes into car usage … but when it comes to figuring out whether buses are affordable, those sorts of things aren’t necessarily taken into account.”
Nevin moved from Nelson to Wakefield a few months ago “which is why I’m basing my campaign around getting to know the community”.
“I’m looking to engage the community in conversation … and start discussions online about particular issues – about forestry, about agriculture, about how public transport might look going forward,” she said. “There are so many issues that council has a massive impact on that changes our environmental footprint and our wellbeing and I think it’s really important to take the community voice in.”