Past decisions killed a way of life. Can new ones create a better way of life?

Editor’s Note:

This lengthy letter from Bob Melnyk looks towards the future by examining what occurred in the past

…Continued from Tuesday, November 4

The Big Eddy has been part of the City for 33 years. In that time frame, what has it received for belonging? The Big Eddy Waterworks is now front and center. This has come about because of changes in the Provincial Building requirements, not the fault of the City of Revelstoke. I know that the Utility is a separate entity with its own governing body, and this is something that the citizens of the Big Eddy will have to relinquish in order to move forward. For many observers of this, it is a straightforward event. For those of us with long memories, it is the last vestige of a time when the Big Eddy was a separate entity with a separate identity. I hope the residents of Big Eddy move forward and can see their neighbourhood grow and expand.

Their water system has issues and mysteries just as the rest of the City still does. Now the next few moves by the City will set the tone as to whether it is open and willing to listen to valued resident input. Not all things are fixed at once. If the 1986 Grizzly Plaza revitalization had stopped to replace the 1929 cast iron water main, maybe the plaza would not have come into existence. The old water main is still there today, almost 30 years later (one leak). Not ideal in a perfect world, but a good example that sometimes you have to take a risk. The City built a chlorination station at Greely followed by a full-blown Water Treatment Plant. We still have some ongoing issues, but that’s what risk management is all about. The City chose, as a back up, to build a well located adjacent to the Columbia River at the Golf Course. Logic says an additional well in the Big Eddy would alleviate the present issues. Keep the pressures as close to existing as possible, and start working on upgrading.

There will be a federal election in 2015, so time is of the essence to jockey for the typical bag of trinkets (money) that get dolled out. The City has a very capable man by the name of Mr. Mike Thomas. His skill set serves us well, but he is but a part of the bureaucratic wheel. It’s up to the citizens to watch, support or condemn, insuring the wheel turns as quickly as is possible.

The City completed the infrastructure of South Revelstoke (Downie Street to Illecillewaet River) approximately six years ago. It is unfortunate that they, the Council of 2008 – 2014, have not had the vision to explore the housing possibilities that this infrastructure could sustain. Carriage houses, detached suites, incentives to build in house suites, etc. The potential residential tax base that could be realized would go a long way to help offset costs in the other areas (Big Eddy). We are a tourist town and this could help provide housing for those who make our service sector function.  After 33 years, it is the Big Eddy’s turn. The City has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on many consultants’ reports that sit on a shelf. 2015 is time to focus on the Big Eddy water issue and use federal money where possible.

The yet-to-be-elected new Council and Mayor must face budget 2015 right from the get-go as well as the usual vertical learning curve for new members.

The Big Eddy was home to one of our most respected and common-sense mayors ever, Mr. Tony Coueffin. With a strong effort by the Big Eddy residents on voting day, there is every likelihood that a councilor from Big Eddy will sit at the Council table and be part of the future of Big Eddy.

I close this where I began, as an 11- or 12-year-old child. Today we have Columbia Basin Trust. I mean nothing disrespectful to an entity that has and is doing good things. Its roots however, are in the destruction of 40+ km of our back yard, destroyed for the reservoir south of us. A way of life ceased to exist. From this arises the funding for affordable housing and many other positive projects. The Big Eddy is a survivor of this era and has grown. It has survived amalgamation and continues to want to grow. It’s their turn – let’s not forget.

I look forward to re-engaging in volunteering on City Committees with Mark McKee as Mayor and a whole lot of new faces on Council.

Bob Melnyk
Revelstoke, BC