By David F. Rooney
The people who attended Tuesday evening’s Sustainability Fair were helping mold the future of Revelstoke.
Their comments during a discussion on topics ranging from affordable housing and economic diversification to the state of the local environment and water management are all going to be evaluated and incorporated into the report expected from the Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) in February.
“We already have plans,” said ICSP team member Cindy Pearce. And she should know as she has been intimately involved in helping design many of them. “The ICSP is essentially an umbrella… that builds on all the other plans — more than 30 in the last five years.”
The ICSP is an attempt to look 20 years into the future.
Mayor David Raven told the people who attended that looking ahead like that is valuable as it can help us prepare for eventualities. He noted that when his own parents came to the valley south of Revelstoke in 1955 they went into logging just to survive. In the 57 years since then the communities along the Columbia River have changed. Some were drowned, as were most of the farms. Others had to change their economic foundations. Power generation and tourism became much more important to Revelstoke than they were back then. Now we’re also a ski resort and still we are seeking new new avenues for economic growth.
Consultant George Penfold told the group that creating global connections, satisfying the hunger for skilled workers and diversifying the economy and probably the top three economic targets here.
Protecting the environment is also a major priority, Pearce said, adding that 80 per cent of respondents in the last two community surveys identified that as a priority.
Socially, however, there seems to be something of a disconnect between the people who live here and those men and women who lead them
Pearce said the number of people who believe their input is welcomed by and actually used by City Council, municipal staff and other leaders in the community has dropped from 52 per cent to 39 per cent. This is a remarkable drop in public confidence in community dialogue and clearly needs to be addressed. You can see that the turnout for events like Sustainability Fair, the last City-sponsored Town Hall meeting and any number of open houses that have been held over the last several years. Where they attract over 100 people 10 or 15 years ago they now seem to draw 30 to 60 people. The sole exception to that seems to be the annual Community Initiatives Program night that always attracts 150-200 people eager to see their group get a piece of the CBT pie. That pie is usually over $300,000 in grants.
One positive change, though, is the increasing number of young men and women who have begun appearing at events like this one. The so-called “new demographic” is eager to leave their stamp on local life and kudos to them for doing so.
To learn more about the Integrated Sustainable Community Plan please go their website at http://www.cityofrevelstoke.com/index.aspx?nid=322 or contact the project team at ICSP@revelstoke.ca . You can also contact Alan Mason, director of Community Economic Development at 250 837-5345, firstname.lastname@example.org or John Guenther, director of Planning at 250 837-3637, email@example.com.