Town Hall meeting on Tuesday could be a tough one

By David F. Rooney

Tuesday evening’s Town Hall meeting at the Community Centre could be a tough one for Mayor David Raven and City Councillors, but that’s the price you pay when you are seek political office and you’re trying to engage the public.

There are four subjects of discussion:

  1. The Official Community Plan and changes to land use in Revelstoke;
  2. The Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan;
  3. The reliably controversial Transportation Master Plan; and
  4. The budget, about which many people have opinions.

“What we wanted to do is have a discussion on how they inter-relate and affect our vision for Revelstoke,” says Mayor David Raven.

In the past year, some proposals contained in the Transportation Master Plan as well as the Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan have proven to be quite controversial. The transportation plan contains all kinds of proposals but the two that excited some people was a proposal to close MacKenzie Crossing and a proposal to install roundabouts at Wright and Victoria Road and at Fourth Street and Victoria Road.

And then there was the parks and rec plan’s proposal to renovate the skateboard facility at Kovachs Park. Many area residents didn’t want it in their neighbourhood and an attempt to find an alternative location backfired when the people considering potential alternate locations unwisely included Queen Elizabeth Park on their list. Word quickly spread and outraged citizens called City Hall and sent angry e-mails and letters. Needless to Queen Elizabeth Park is not anybody’s list.

“There’s a lot of volatility out there,” Raven said, adding that while some people have read and understand the master plans, others have become focused on individual proposals as though they were a done deal when they are not.

Both master plans were ordered back when Revelstoke’s economic future seemed a lot rosier than it is today. Back then most people saw Revelstoke Mountain Resort as an economic driver that would over the next 15 to 20 years lead to a community transformation. The resort is holding its own but expectations are now more realistic.

So far, Council has seen drafts of the master plans and has asked municipal staff to come up with a set of recommendations that could, potentially, be used to guide municipal development over the coming years. And even then they’re just recommendations.

Then there’s the budget. Nobody — and that includes Mayor Raven and all of the Councillors —  is very happy with it. They think it’s risky but Raven has a lot of faith in the new Chief Administrative Officer, Tim Palmer and the rest of the senior staff. After four months of finding his way around the organization he is embarking on a careful review of City operations and staffing. Meanwhile, the process used to arrive at the annual budget is undergoing change. Council and senior staff will begin preliminary budget preparations earlier in the year bearing in mind the City’s financial limitations.

So what does all this mean for you? Well it’s an opportunity to directly hear what the mayor, City Councillors and senior staff have to say about these important issues.

Raven said he and Council are proponents of transparency and open government. This Town Hall Meeting is part of that process.

“The message has to be that we’ll listen to all the complaints people have and have a dialogue on where we need to go,” Raven said. “As a community we need to focus on what’s realistic.”

At the end of the day, that’s what’s important.

The Town Hall Meeting will be held at the Community Centre on Tuesday, May 17, from 7 until 9 pm.