City creating community groups for every neighbourhood

City Planner John Gunther (right) talks to a group of 13 central residential area residents Wednesday about the need to form neighbourhood community groups that can help guide the development process. David F. Rooney photo
City Planner John Guenther (right) talks to a group of 13 central residential area residents Wednesday about the need to form neighbourhood community groups that can help guide the City's development. David F. Rooney photo

By David F. Rooney

The City is fostering the creation of community groups it hopes will provide grassroots input on development in neighbourhoods throughout Revelstoke.

“We want neighbourhoods to retain their individual identities,” City Planner John Guenther told a group of 13 central Revelstoke area residents at a meeting at the Community Centre on Wednesday.

The meeting was the second of a series it is holding to help residents in specific areas organize. The different areas are Columbia Park, the central Revelstoke residential area, Lower Town, the central business district, the Big Eddy, South Revelstoke and Arrow Heights. The first group organized was in Columbia Park about two weeks ago. The central residential area meeting was Wednesday and the Lower Town meeting is tonight, Thursday Oct. 15 at 7 pm. The other meetings are listed at the bottom of this story.

“There’s a lot of power in a community group,” Guenther told the residents who turned up for the meeting.

Under their terms of reference, each group will advise City Council “on current and long-range urban planing issues” that affect their particular neighbourhood. Gunther said the City needs community-based advice on specific land-use applications as well as long-term issues such as its plans for public participation, transportation, parks and recreation, capital spending, greenhouse gas conrols, regional urban growth, liquid waste management, a community vision and the City’s overall strategy.

Mayor David Raven, who was present at Wednesday’s meeting along with Councillors Phil Welock and Antoinette Halberstadt, said the City wants to create a master strategy that can help it achieve specific goals over the next five years.

Participants at Wednesday’s meeting were enthusiastic about the notion of community-based advice.

“I really like this idea of formalizing the process,” said Clara Maltby.

Another, Jamie Burke, said he is “definitely keen about the changes that are coming” to Revelstoke and wants to see residents have their say in what happens.

The community groups are intended to do just that. Each group will have at leSt seven members and will have a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and secretary. Their meetings will be open to neighbourhood residents with an interest in what is happening in their area. However, they are ad hoc, meaning they are not recognizes societies or associations and will attempt to operate on a consensual basis. “All written and verbal comments are important but only advisory,” the terms of reference state.

The group selected for Central Revelstoke includes Don Teuton, Anne Merritt, Carolyn Lorrain, Rory Luxmoore, Clara and Francis Maltby, Bryon Knoblauch, Jamie Burke and Chris Selvig. It will meet on the second Wednesday of every month at the Community Centre. The Columbia Park Community Group consists of Barb Weeden, Betty Sloan, Gerry Farren, Jackie Morris, Robin Mackenzie and Sharon Bennetts. It meets on the first Wednesday of every month. The Lower Town Community Group is composed of Bev Wiege,  Corin Flood,  Jeff Nicholson, Lisa Weber,  Shane McCallum, Susan Knight and  Taylor Pearcey. Guenther or a member of his staff will attend every meeting to ensure the groups have the information they need from the City to be effective.

“The better informed you are the more influential you can be,” he said.

The rest of the meetings — all of them to be held at the Community Centre — are scheduled for:

Oct. 15 — Lower Town Community Meeting — 7-8:30 pm

Oct. 20 — Arrow Heights Community Meeting — 7-8:30 pm

Oct. 21 — South Revelstoke Community Meeting — 7-8:30 pm

Oct. 28 — Big Eddy Community Meeting —  7-8:30 pm

Oct. 29 — Central Business District Community Meeting —  7-8:30 pm