By David F. Rooney
Revelstoke is doing a lot of things right, but will still face some significant challenges in the years ahead, says Mayor Dave Raven.
He said increased residential and commercial development in areas that do not yet have, or are just receiving, full services will put increased pressure on the City at a time when taxpayers are shelling out about as much as they can afford. Ironically, while the City has just received the federal and provincial assistance it needs to go ahead with four major projects worth $5 million, that same assistance, particularly for the Clearview Heights Sewer Project, may help create the conditions that may make that pressure inevitable. The other projects in line for 60 per cent financing from Ottawa and Victoria are the replacement of the Trans-Canada Highway Water Reservoir Tank, The Downie Street Lift Station Upgrade and the Aquatic Centre Heat Recovery System. (To find out more about these projects and their funding arrangement please go to www.revelstokecurrent.com/2009/09/25/revelstoke-hits-the-federal-provincial-funding-jackpot.)
“It is an opportunity,” Raven said of the Clearview Heights Project. “It also develops a very large portion of the community and clears the way for further development. With better water, sewer and roads there will be more development in that part of town — there’s no question. That’s going to cost money. There’s a one-third cost to the City. That plus our increasing costs for all kinds of services is going to lead Council to have a very hard look at our budget and our service levels and what we can afford as a community. You can’t really go back to the taxpayers again and again and again. That… is going to be the challenge that’s coming.”
Financial pressures come at a time when there appears to be little appetite in Victoria for easing the load on municipalities, a load it helped create by downloading services onto communities over the last several years.
“We’re at the bottom of the pile, we can upload some (expenditures to higher levels of government), we can do some things less and maybe we can find other ways of achieving our goals,” he said in an interview taped for RCTV on Friday.
But it will take creative thinking on the part of the community and the City’s dedicated staff, whom he went out of his way to praise, to find solutions that work. Fortunately, that is something Revelstoke excels at.
“It was interesting to see how other municipalities are dealing with their challenges,” Raven said. We came back with a real strong sense that Revelstoke was doing an awful lot of things right. Some of the other communities were addressing planning challenges and infrastructure challenges that we have been able to deal with in the past.”
You can see the full interview on In Conversation on RCTV this week. It will be aired at 7 pm Wednesday, 9 am and 5 pm on Thursday and at 2 pm on Friday.