By Steve Hubrecht
Revelstoke city councillor and small business owner Nicole Cherlet is the NDP candidate for Columbia River-Revelstoke for the upcoming provincial election.
Cherlet has been a city councillor since 2018 and is running for provincial office, in part because many of the issues – such as minimum wage, affordable housing, childcare, climate change and active transportation — she is working on a councillor, and which she also worked on prior to that as the president of the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce are issues that extend beyond just the community of Revelstoke.
“These are conversations that typically happen at the provincial and federal tables,” Cherlet told the Pioneer. “With the (COVID-19) pandemic, there is the opportunity to change how we run society, and I want to be at that table.”
Cherlet is the owner and operator of a business specializing in kitchenware, bathware, bedding and other household accessories. Before that, she spent many years in Revelstoke’s hospitality sector, and prior to that she worked for a few years as an English teacher in South Korea. Cherlet is originally from Manitoba, her academic background is in conservation science, and at one point (after teaching in Korea but before moving to Revelstoke) she spent a winter in Invermere, working at Panorama Mountain Resort and “really learning to ski”, as she put it. It was in Invermere that she met her husband Glen.
Her decision to go into municipal politics stems from years of community volunteering in Revelstoke as well as her involvement with the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce. Through advocacy work with the local chamber there as well as the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, Cherlet realized that she represented a unique demographic often left out of political discussions: that of small business owners and other adults working hard, but still struggling to make ends meet.
“We’ve made it work, but it’s not easy. I’m a tenant, I still rent. I probably won’t ever be able to own property. Doing retail in the age of Amazon is a ride. I ran the business for three years before I turned a small profit. It was about $13,000,” said Cherlet. “And then I got a tax bill, and I thought why tax someone who is barely making money? I realized it’s because voices from people like me just aren’t being heard in politics. So when we’re talking about affordable housing, or how the lack of childcare makes it really hard to get employees to do shift work, I do a good job of talking about this story, because I’m living it.”
Cherlet said she knows it will be a tough election battle in Columbia-River Revelstoke, but said she thinks the NDP (which held the riding for 12 year prior to Liberal incumbent Doug Clovechok’s 2017 victory) can re-take the riding.