Higher Ground revisited

Editor’s Note:

Over the next several months John Devitt, author of The Revelstoke Current’s popular Higher Ground column will be writing periodic opinion columns about the ideas, issues and competing visions anticipated during the upcoming civic election campaign. His pieces promise to be — in true Devitt fashion — provocative. Here is John’s first offering:


John Devitt
John Devitt

Is it over yet?

Can someone pinch me and wake me up?

Many of my readers know that I left Revelstoke approximately one year ago to pursue employment opportunities in my career field. However, just because I no longer physically live in Revelstoke, doesn’t mean I’ve given up on my community. I still pay taxes, I still come ride my bike, I still visit friends, and I still become frustrated when hearing news from City Hall.

During each of my visits, I quietly take stock of the empty storefronts that continue to permeate Revelstoke. While private businesses open and close, City Council continue to spin their wheels on issues of non-importance. Where are our leaders? What is their vision for the community?

Revelstoke was once looked upon as a place of opportunity. Although it seems like a lifetime ago, only a handful of years ago the community was full of promise. Revelstoke Mountain Resort was opening, new people were coming to town, and there was a palpable feeling of excitement. That was until the 2008 municipal election. Built upon a fear of change, instead of modest growth and visionary thinking, we became locked within a leadership model deficient in visionary thinking.

In any community, it is from the profitable operations of business that all other benefits are derived. Only by succeeding in this fundamental goal can jobs be provided and produce the wealth to finance all the governmental, civic, educational, cultural and charitable needs that communities are faced with every day.

In this community, City Council has turned a blind eye to the needs of business, not seeing it as a catalyst for growth, but instead an unending bag of money to meet bureaucratic need. Instead of implementing the recommendations of the Economic Development Committee, which for more than six years has been asking for a Core Service Review of municipal programs in order to find cost savings and operational efficiencies; City Council has been focused on ‘make work projects’ such as whether to allow backyard chickens for home egg consumption. As though this is great dilemma for our decade that all future prosperity hinges upon.

I can just see my legacy,” chuckled Mayor Dave Raven. “I’ll be the mayor who allowed backyard chickens.” (https://legacy.revelstokecurrent.com//2013/08/28/city-council-embraces-urban-chic-chic-chickens/)

Perhaps. Or perhaps the legacy will be of failed accountability to taxpayers; of skyrocketing municipal budgets and tax burdens, of vacant land where developers have pulled up stakes, of a city openly contemptuous to business interests.

So, is it over yet? We are five months away from election time. Will we experience the change that is so desperately needed? Will we elect a council that has collective vision and leadership over City Hall? Who will the candidates be? What is their vision for Revelstoke? How do they intend to accomplish what is currently proclaimed as being impossible? Can they rein in spending? Can they do away with the fear-mongering ‘what do you want us to cut’ attitude of current leaders? Will Revelstoke receive the ‘house cleaning’ it so desperately needs?

The current ordeal wore thin a long time ago when the City almost killed the downtown core through botched communication of revitalization plans during the summer high season. It really grew tiresome when the skate park plan was bumped around City Hall for the umpteenth time. But it reached maddening ‘wake up in sweats’ levels when our politicians became ego driven regarding poultry legacies than with effective leadership and management of our community’s economic future.