Civic news… briefly

Smart meters to begin popping up in town this spring

BC Hydro’s smart meters will begin appearing in Revelstoke next spring, says Gary Murphy, chief project officer for the utility’s Smart Metering Program.

He told City Council on Tuesday that the meters will replace the existing old-fashioned mechanical meters with a modern, fully integrated, smart system.

The program is expected to pay for itself through reduced theft of electricity, energy savings and operating efficiencies, delivering $1.6 billion in total benefits for a net benefit of $520 million over 20 years. These savings will keep both current and future rates lower than they otherwise would be. In fact, the program reduces current rate pressures by over $70 million over the next three years.

Murphy also outlined many of the benefits of the program:

  • BC Hydro will reduce wasted electricity through voltage optimization and reduce operating costs through efficiencies in areas such as distribution system maintenance;
  • Hydro will be able to pinpoint the location of an outage more quickly and accurately, speeding up the restoration process and reducing costs;
  • With smart meters there will be no more estimated bills and the moving process for customers will be simplified;
  • Smart meters will create new opportunities in the green energy field by enabling innovations such as electric vehicles and small-scale customer generation;
  • Families will have access to timely information about their electricity use through a secure web site, mobile applications and other options;
  • Smart meters will help Hydro quickly locate and stop electricity thefts estimated at about $100 million by illegal marijuana grow ops;
  • The meters will discourage illegal tampering with electricity wires which cause fires and live wire dangers in neighbourhoods; and
  • The installation of the new meters will create approximately 350 jobs and generate $30-40 million in direct wages.


Council backs snowmobilers’ concerns about area closures

City Council has backed a request from the Snowmobile Revelstoke Society that Premier Christy Clark reconsider recent closures in the Caribou and Standard Basin areas.

The society and the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club say they have worked diligently with the provincial government over the years to help preserve mountain caribou numbers and habitat in the region.

The closures were implemented, they said, with little consideration for their impact on snowmobile tourism.

“Furthermore, we feel that we have been dismissed as stakeholders by the BC government,” says a letter sent to Council by Angie Threatful, the society’s executive director, in late July.

At the time, most councilors agreed with Threatful’s assessment that the province has simply blown off local concerns.

“I would like to see the pressure continued on the ministry,” said Councillor Steve Bender.

He said that even though the Ministry of the Environment did send someone to speak to Council about the closures his “impression was that he came to tell us that’s just the way it is.”

However, Councillor Antoinette Halberstadt opposed Council’s backing for the society saying it is “trying to pressure the ministry without all the scientific facts.”

She raised her opposition again during this past Tuesday’s Council meeting even though Mayor Raven has already signed and sent a letter of support on behalf of the local clubs.


Skateboard park, pump track can be shoe-horned into Centennial Park, but…

This illustration shows where municipal staff say that a skateboard park and a mountain bike pump track could be shoe-horned into the existing array of diamonds and tracks at Centennial Park. Image courtesy of the City of Revelstoke

Where, oh where, can the skateboard park go?

In the wake of a 1,152-signature petition from Revelstoke Minor Ball, the City has released an aerial image of Centennial Park that shows how a skateboard park and mountain bike pump track could be shoe-horned in between the baseball diamonds.

But even though that may go a long way towards mollifying die-hard baseball fans, Staff Sgt. Jackie Olsen of the local RCMP detachment maintains it is still the wrong place for facilities.

“This is not the correct space for a skateboard park,” she told Council on Tuesday. “A skateboard park should be in a high-visibility location.”

Outside Council Chambers she said that if the skateboard park is eventually built at Centennial Park it would only be a matter of time before taggers and graffiti artists deface the Workers’ Memorial and other structures in the area.

She could well be correct and if that were to happen the public outcry would be loud and angry.

However, even though City Council okayed the plan with the proviso that it be kept up to date on its progress, Mayor David Raven said it would likely be years before any of this comes to pass.

Aside from providing a place for these facilities the City is not committing a dime to these projects. They must be financed and built by their sponsoring groups — not the taxpayers of Revelstoke.

The Revelstoke Trail Alliance, which wants to build the $100,000 pump track, has a grant from the Columbia Basin Trust and commitments of labour and materials from a number of sponsors. However, the Columbia Valley Skateboard Association, which wants to build the $700,000 skateboard park has no money.

Another potential issue is the impact that locating those facilities will have on parking and camping at Centennial Park.


New construction permits

Fifteen residential and commercial construction permits worth $491were issued in July.

That brings the total of new building in town so far this year to $17.9 million, down from $25.5 million at this same last year.


Police report shows Glacier Challenge is tamer than ever

A report to Council from the RCMP detachment’s Staff Sgt. Jackie Olsen  clearly shows how relatively tame the annual Glacier Challenge has become over the years.

The report (click here to read the one-page document) says the number of files opened by local cops each since 2007 has gone down from 116 to 71.

This year there were only two assaults and 22 people taken into custody. Most of the people arrested were local youths — and minors at that.