The more things change the more they stay the same

By John Devitt

Years from now when our descendants look back on 21st century society, they will see that we suffered from many problems.  Famine, war, unemployment, unfair medical treatment, civil rights abuses, pollution, homelessness, religious strife, economic inequality and collapse, human slavery, animal abuse and species extinction, rapid climate change, corporate control of government, fear of nuclear annihilation, genocide, racism, sexism and ageism, terrorism, fundamentalism, exclusivism, celebrity worship… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg!  Don’t get me started on the melting of actual icebergs!

Locally, we face issues of sustainability, taxes, dog poop, sign bylaws, draw down river areas, sensitive habitats, resort development, tourist integration, trees being cut down around our beloved bike trails, localism, weak city leadership, families struggling for food security, closed door politics, substance abuse, dangerous intersections, chickens, shady business deals, dangerous highways, a recession and more.

But let’s face it, all these issues are irrelevant.  As some people will tell you, the real problem we are facing is… drum roll… slow download speeds for your funny cat videos on YouTube.  Slow Internet speeds are clearly the source of our economic woes. Luckily there are those willing to fight for the basic right of faster Internet speeds.

Laughter ensued as we began envisioning our mutton chopped, monocle-wearing forefathers endlessly debating bandwidth rates ( and pounding their desks in the House of Commons out of frustration when it was decided that 6 megabits per second would be sufficient.  “Gadzooks!  Howsoever shall I manage uploading my GoPro footage after a sensational day of shredding the gnar, dagnabbit?!  I bite my thumb at you sir!”  Ahh, #FirstWorldProblems.

While the Internet bandwidth struggle continues, we see more evidence of the true problems within our business community: more shuttered storefronts.  Energy Matters on First Street and Talisman Fibre and Trading Co. on Mackenzie Avenue will soon be added to the long list of closed Revelstoke businesses in the past few years.  Prime commercial real estate downtown and on Mackenzie Avenue continues to sit empty, promoting the ghostly image of our local economy to visitors.  However, it is imperative that we get faster internetz.

Until then, we can listen to the broken record of Revelstoke tax time

Like every year, again City Council can’t seem to figure out the annual budget.  Not only that, but as every year previous, they have waited until the last minute to do anything about it, relying and praying that the mid-March St. Patty’s “luck of the Irish” will magically make a pot of gold (or a giant dome) appear to ease their financial woes.

The revisionist history being written and spoken of would lead us to believe that City Council never receives feedback from the community on what to do with our money.  This could not be further from the truth.  An easy search through media archives will uncover dozens of reports on over several years regarding efforts of business groups and motivated citizens to provide financial feedback to council.  Yet each year, the City claims it never receives feedback.  As expressed in online comments by one concerned citizen, Council themselves are provoking the growing apathy and for politics and process in Revelstoke.  Citizens must be wondering if there’s any point to providing feedback at all when Council will just forget they received it within a matter of months and postpone any budget discussions until next year.

To date what has been the product of years of feedback, advocacy and presentations to Council?  Well, Council accepted the Chamber of Commerce’s recommendation in 2010 to strike a Financial Advisory Committee.  Admittedly, the only item implemented of the committee’s recommendations was the 2011 salary increase for Mayor and Councilors.

Then there are the taxes.  Sure we have had tax increases, but they’ve been lower than what have been proposed year after year.  One has to wonder if targeting high rates and ‘settling’ for something a little lower is a ploy to still get what they want at the end of the day.  If we are distracted by high rates, maybe we won’t notice ballooning budgets, program creep and financial inefficiencies.  No, we’ll be satisfied fiscal automatons happy to have been heard this year, because this year they really mean it.  If we only get punched in the stomach, we should be grateful we weren’t kicked in the head.  And don’t worry, we’ll stop getting beat up next year.  They’re serious this time.

But shhh, don’t think about all that.  Watch this video about funny cats playing with water instead… provided your Internet can handle it.