Once upon a time, (oh that would be back in the early years of the new century) it seemed as though you almost always could count on at least 100 people to turn out at public meetings called by the City.
That was back in the days when the Official Community Plan and the true meaning of the term “resort development” had a lot of people thinking about the future. That’s changed of course and not necessarily for the better as you could see from the sparse attendance at Thursday’s Town Hall-style meeting with City Council.
It may be that some people feel they are a little over-processed. Others may think they have nothing to contribute or no one will listen to them if they do speak up. And still others may think they are too new to the community to have a relevant viewpoint on anything.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Think back to all that has occurred over the least 10 or 12 years. Our community always thrives when people get involved, when they come out to listen to what others have to say and debate actions and plans.
That’s why — although I was disheartened by the turnout for the meeting on Thursday — I was also buoyed by the fact that several of the people who turned out were young men and women, some of them not just young but new to Revelstoke as well. Their participation and willingness to learn how Revelstoke works is a good sign.
So, too is the fact that the City’s recent community sustainability survey a had a major buy-in by local residents. 750 people — 15 per cent of the population — answered its questions. Their responses are expected to guide the development of an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan for Revelstoke.
The survey sought public input regarding everything from the size of city people envisioned down the road to the kinds of business and industry that would be encouraged to develop.
The survey was one of the first major steps in creating this ICSP. It provides the ICSP team (click here to see a list of its members) with information about residents’ well-being, desires for the future and their priorities for improving community life.
That will be built on next month when the City sponsors a “Sustainability Fair” on November 27 and further down the road in December when discussions will be held regarding a five-year action plan and in Febriary 2012 when the plan is fully realized.
A document released to local news media by the City this week discusses the plan in some depth:
Through the gas tax, the BC government has funded Integrated Community Sustainability Plans (ICSPs) in several communities, including our own. ICSPs encourage communities to take a fresh, long-term look at their future and focus on finding ways to become more sustainable.
The name itself is a mouthful – here’s an explanation:
Integrated – Community members and the City have crafted many plans in recent years. The ICSP will create an ‘umbrella’ that integrates and links these plans for efficient action on community priorities.
Community – Most of the plans the City initiates provide direction mainly to City operations. The ICSP is a community plan – not a City plan. This is another opportunity for Revelstoke to come together to solve problems and pursue its goals.
Sustainability – Sustainability has long been a foundation for life in Revelstoke. Crafted in 1994, Revelstoke’s Community Vision Statement begins with ‘Revelstoke will be a leader in achieving a sustainable community by balancing environmental, social and economic values within a local, regional and global context.’ This ICSP will provide a sustainability framework for prioritizing actions to meet our current needs while ensuring that the needs of future generations are also met.
Plan – While this is a plan on paper, the ICSP Steering Committee and project team are committed to ensuring this plan leads to community-wide actions to address priorities by community organizations, the City, businesses and individuals. It is a chance to focus, integrate, and strengthen activities community-wide, and galvanize implementation.
Revelstoke has already made substantial progress towards sustainability. In addition to our 1994 Community Vision, Community Development Action Plans (CDAPs) in 2001 and 2006 and our Official Community Plan are all based on the commitment of the community to integrate environmental, social and economic values to secure our long-term well-being.
As well, community organizations continue to work together on important initiatives such as environmental education, early childhood development, literacy, youth opportunities and multiculturalism, which support long-term community sustainability.
So how will this plan make a difference to life in Revelstoke? Looking back at how the 2006 Community Development Action Plan made a difference provides some examples. In that plan, the highest priority identified by residents was building the aquatic centre – which has been done. The 2006 plan included several pages of economic development actions such as continuing business supports, extending Grizzly Plaza and expanding the trail network – these have now all been completed. It also recommended that the City create Social Development and Environment Committees, similar to the long-standing Economic Development Commissions, with coordinators to expedite completion of the actions in the plan, and that has been done.
A community-based steering committee appointed by the City is guiding the creation of Revelstoke’s ICSP. The project team responsible for the project work includes consultants from within and outside the community with expertise in social, economic, environmental and community planning and action – reflecting the scope of the ICSP.
The recent Community Survey is one of the first steps in creating this ICSP. This survey will provide the team with information about residents’ well-being, desires for the future and priorities for improving community life.
As in past CDAPs, community-wide actions will be prioritized based on the survey results, current data about the community and community dialogue. In addition, the ICSP will also use a long-term lens of possible futures for Revelstoke to set priorities – these scenarios will be described in a future article. The project calendar below highlights the community dialogue sessions. Mark your calendar for the Sustainability Fair on November 27 at the Community Centre.
For more information go to the ICSP website go to http://www.cityofrevelstoke.com/index.aspx?nid=322
You can also contact the project team at ICSP@revelstoke.ca or via City staff:
Alan Mason, Director of Community Economic Development, 250 837-5345 firstname.lastname@example.org; or John Guenther, Director of Planning, 250 837-3637 email@example.com.
Get involved. Ask questions. Our future as a community matters.