Bob Melnyk has been involved in municipal affairs for several years. A retired City employee, Bob pays close attention to City Council and served on the Focus Group that attempted to advise the previous two Councils. He has also been a member of the Neighbourhood Committee in Southside and was involved in its talks with the Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee’s process regarding Kovach Park. He is not happy…
I would like to congratulate Acting Mayor Nixon on her arrival; she is now fully a bureaucrat, skilled in the art of missing the point every time. I will start back at the beginning…
Kovach Park is like every other neighbourhood park. It has seen multiple uses over years. Then, in mid-2011 the park mysteriously changed its status to ‘community park.’ This was never clearly explained to the public. This change now made the park the dumping ground for all good things. No other park carries this designation. A master plan for Kovach Park was in progress under the reign of (former Planning Director John) Gunther and was to formalize some sort of official plan for the park. Along comes a group who would like to see a much larger skateboard park. At this point the entire process goes down hill. I have included some letters and emails to illustrate this:
From: Josie Woodman
Date: 30 September, 2013 9:53:58 PM PDT
Dear Mayor Raven and City Councillors –
This letter is in response to the news I received from Laurie Donato last week that the CVSA is appearing before you at the October 8th Council meeting to once again request that Kovach Park be designated as their long-sought-after location for a new skateboard park. Sometime in 2011 Council made the decision to allot the CVSA space in Centennial Park after the Southside Neighbourhood Group had met several times. Those meetings resulted in a site plan being designed for the park. The Kovach Park – Conceptual Site Plan: Winter 2012 was presented by Laurie at a meeting on Dec 04, 2012. That plan did not include any changes to the current skateboard area but did include many of the ideas proposed by the SNG – updated playground equipment, seniors’ exercise equipment, improved signage, benches, shade trees, picnic tables etc – and of course a long-overdue washroom facility and water fountain. We now feel that all those deliberations may be completely disregarded, discounted, and dismissed if in fact the CVSA request is approved.
This past June (2013) when I first learned that the CVSA was once again considering Kovach Park, Laurie asked me to find out whether the SNG wanted to meet with the CVSA about their proposal. An (edited) portion of my letter to the SNG on June 21 follows:
“I personally am rather discouraged and disappointed with the whole way this has been handled by the City (and former staff members now gone). I feel rather like it’s a merry-go-round as in ‘Here we go again’ and how many times do we have to do go through this process?
On Oct 16, 2014, at 17:22, Bob Melnyk wrote:
I see on the Stokelist today that Council gave $25,000 to the skateboard group. I know that this is in the 2014 budget but my issue is this: We have still not seen a plan for the park. Laurie sent out a drawing in early August. For all purposes it was mostly useless; no dimensions, all earlier sketches indicated the washroom would be left of walkway and front-of-park oriented. It was shown right of the path in the middle area on an angle — perfect to block view into park and could not be located much further from the existing water and sewer. Josie Woodman sent Donato an email on August 8th requesting a meeting to clarify many issues. She apparently was too busy. It is now October 16 and no response, no info., no real drawings and obviously no washroom unless it is to be a repeat of last year’s paving performance. It is an insult to Josie that there has been no communication at all, and for the rest of us, par for the course on the park. Another year goes by and all is status quo – not acceptable. Josie – Gary does chair Parks & Rec
From: Bob Melnyk
Date: November 2, 2013 3:00:41 PM PDT
I am wondering if you can shed some light as to what is happening in the park. On Oct. 30/31 Valley Blacktop came and paved a pathway approx. 1.5m in width behind (parkside) the large rock barrier. This was done in the rain and cold which produces a much lower quality job. This had to cost in the neighborhood of 4-5 thousand dollars. My questions are as follows:
1) What was done does not even follow the last proposed plan(see attached) so who decided for this to proceed as done?
2) Council has stated that there is no money for the washrooms and bumped it to 2014 yet there is money available for a path that follows no known plan again who decided this?
3) There appears to have been no dialogue to advise the Southside community of this puzzling step yet your park & rec director has a mass e-mailing list again why was this not done even as a common courtesy to the group?
It is hard to place any trust or confidence in your park & rec director when events like this happen. I am CCing this to some of the active people in the Southside group and would appreciate that you respond to the group.
Thanks in advance
From: Bob Melnyk
Date: November 16, 2013 3:47:47 PM PST
Here are the photos from the other day
The above are pictures I took after the rainy Oct 30/31 2013 paving job. I waited the better part of 2 weeks before becoming very vocal with P&R committee. This was rectified the following summer. I have no doubt without complaining this would have been let slide, so much for onsite quality control by the City I asked why the path is this narrow the response from Donato was this: “The book says this is the standard required.” I countered that there is a 41-unit seniors’ complex across the street a fair number use walkers and occasionally wheelchairs the path is not friendly for two to pass without having to step off the side, something that can be quite daunting if you have balance issues. It did not change, the book rules.
From: Gary Starling
Date: October 19, 2014 7:58:25 AM PDT
I have only seen the sketch plan briefly. It is incomplete because the CVSA has not completed that part of the plan, which will be incorporated into the park.
Once that is completed I will ask that it be presented publicly. At that time concerns can be addressed/explained.
Granted, this project has not moved at the speed of light. It is frustrating for Council as well. It is proving to be very challenging as the CVSA is struggling getting the planning going.
I will speak to Laurie about the lack of communication as well.
As always, thanks for your input,
On Oct 19, 2014, at 8:54 AM, Rem wrote:
Thanks for your reply. My biggest concern was and still is as I suspected the CVSA is being treated as the main tenant in the park. It supercedes all the neighbourhood. So wrong that it is looked at 180 degree different. The Park now has to wait on the CVSA and then see if the City approves of their design as there is no direct info to govern its footprint or height. I fail to see the logic
From: Laurie Donato
Date: November 4, 2013 8:50:46 AM PST
The pathway is for the senior’s park. The project is fully funded by the Royal Bank & and an Age Friendly Grant. It is in fact, following the plan that was proposed. The path was in fact identified on the site plan that was circulated to everyone on a mass email list including Mr. Melnyk. I’ve attached the email correspondence which includes meeting notes from a neighbourhood group meeting held in Dec. of 2012 as well as the site plan that was presented to the group. It is unfortunate that most of the people on this email list did not attend that meeting. At that time there were no concerns raised with what was being proposed. Both Alice (Oct. 2, 2013) & Josie’s (Oct. 3, 2013) letter to Council reference the site plan presented to Dec. 2012. Josie specifically references the exercise park.
Director of Parks, Recreation & Culture
From: Bob Melnyk
Date: November 6, 2013 12:29:16 AM PST
Thanks for your quick response. I have read Laurie’s response and it only leads to more frustration. The Nov 19/12 Park and Rec. committee minutes state that final site plan not finalized. The Jan 16/13 minutes item 6b states that an Age Friendly Grant for 20,000.00 had been received and committee members were provided with a draft site plan for the park. This should now make a grand total of 45,000.00 available factoring in the 25,000.00 from the Royal Bank yet we are still told there is only 25 grand why? If Ms Donato is referring to the aerial view of the park with areas shaded in grey for the different components (shown in the Dec 22/12 Times Review) as the site plan it is a joke. If anyone was to submit something like this to planning or building or to place something on City property it would be immediately rejected because it contains no useful information. There are no basic dimensions for anything, path width, pad size, etc. Ms Donato knows better than anyone that this type of info is about as basic a requirement as possible. My next issue is that if the photo is being accepted as the plan then we are safe to assume that the skateboard area will remain as is, so no need to worry that it will be expanded?
Lastly where does it say or show in either Council and or park & rec committee minutes that the draft plan has been approved so construction can begin?
Thanks in advance
From: CVSA Secretary
Sent: November-05-14 2:28 PM
Hi Kovach Park stakeholders,
I spoke with Cindy Pearce from the Kovach area neighbourhood group today. She expressed deep concern that the City of Revelstoke has not communicated back to neighbourhood residents following initial consultation on the Kovach Park master plan process, including the Kovach Park walk through on May 8, 2014.
The Kovach Park master plan is a City of Revelstoke process; the Columbia Valley Skateboard Association is merely one stakeholder in that process.
On Sept. 11, 2014, CVSA representatives met with senior city staff on a number of ongoing items related to the skatepark development process. Those staff included senior representatives from the Parks, Development Services and Administration departments. One of our requests at that meeting was an update on the Kovach Park Master Plan. We were told the master plan stakeholder consultation had been completed, and that the revised Kovach Park Master Plan was not subject to council approval, and that from staff’s perspective, the plan and consultation was complete. The CVSA moved forward based on this information.
Based on feedback from Cindy Pearce today, the CVSA is certain that city planning process has not been completed to the satisfaction of residents and stakeholders involved.
In light of this new information, the CVSA is suspending the planned Nov. 26 and 27 consultation process as we seek more information and a resolution to this big issue.
Thanks for contacting us Cindy. I have sent this to all those who received my initial email from two days ago.
Secretary, Columbia Valley Skateboard Association
I will state now that I bear this group no blame in the choice made by the previous Council. The last mayor took the path of least resistance and broke the tie on Kovach Park. It was now a reality that Kovach would be the home of the new future skateboard park. The South Revelstoke community group was disappointed to say the least.
From: Josie Woodman
Date: November 7, 2014 5:04:32 PM PST
Dear Aaron –
As a passionate Kovach Park “stakeholder” I want to thank you for your decision to suspend the planned Nov 26 and 27 consultation gatherings. I think you acted in an honourable manner and I admire you for that. It came as a shock to me to read in your letter that the City’s consultation with all the stakeholders had been completed. My repeated requests to meet with City officials about the Kovach Park Master Plan have been denied on more than one occasion as you learned from Cindy Pearce and also because you received my letters to the City as they were CC’d to my neighbourhood distribution list as well as the CVSA.
My letter of August 08/14 concluded as follows: “It seems to me that all the various park elements need to be planned as part of a whole and not simply as separate pieces stuck together because I believe that all the stakeholders want this to be a wonderful place for us all. So can we consider this version to be a work in progress and meet together to see if we can continue to work towards a version that would enable us to meet that goal? We have been working on this project for some time now and I think we should continue to take whatever time is needed to do it justice. It will be with us for many years to come.”
My position about Kovach Park has not changed since that writing. I remain hopeful that, as promised at the May 8th meeting, all the stakeholders can meet to plan the entire park site plan together before any plans are finalized.
Thank you once again.
From: Laurie Donato
Sent: Monday, March 02, 2015 10:53 AM
Hope everyone has been enjoying the great weather we have been having J. Since spring is just around the corner, I thought I would provide an update on where we are at with Kovach Park.
- On February 24th, 2015, the attached site plans were provided to Council. Council endorsed Site Plan 3.
- Newline Skateparks has provided the Columbia Valley Skateboard Association (CVSA) with a proposed design direction for the skateboard park terrain. Once Newline receives confirmation from the CVSA that they are heading in the right direction with the terrain design, they will continue to develop the design to a point where it is ready to share with the neighbourhood group for input and feedback.
- The Early Childhood Committee has made an application to CBT for funding for playground equipment – voting takes place tomorrow night at the RCC at 6:30 p.m.
- The Rotary Club has confirmed that they will be contributing $ 6,000 towards new playground equipment.
- City of Revelstoke – budgeted $ 15,000 in the 2015 Parks Budget for this project.
The washroom facility tender documents have been prepared and are currently being reviewed by staff. We hope to have the tender package out in the next week couple of weeks.
If anyone would like to be involved in discussing playground options, please let me know via email by Friday, March 6th, 2015.
Thanks and have a great day!
Director of Parks, Recreation & Culture
From: Bob Melnyk
Date: March 9, 2015 12:38:55 PM PDT
This is in response to the information from Feb. 24th Council meeting. I am totally shocked at the outcome. I viewed the video of Ms. Donatos’ presentation and cannot believe she gave such a biased report. I would like to back track to the last meeting in December 2014. The consensus of the group was that the majority could live with site plan 4. There was no notion that site plan 3 existed anymore, it had evolved into site plan 4. There was to be another notification around late December showing the refinements to site plan 4. That never happened. I was and still am supportive of site plan 4 for the following reasons:
1) By placing the washroom to the left of the path and moving the children’s play area to the right, this provides some much needed separation between the skateboard area and young children. This prevents young children, their parents/grandparents from being subjected to course language and the possibility of injury. We get one shot at this and I would like to think that we put young children’s well being at the top of the list.
2) With this change, the seniors area becomes incorporated with a much more compatible environment.
3) With this layout, it presents some very unique opportunities to flesh out the area with benches trees etc.
4) With the washroom to the left of the path the doorways would give good visibility for those exiting the washrooms to see the path coming down off the dyke to minimize possible bike/skateboard child/seniors collisions from occurring.
I would now like to move on to the issues that led up to this situation. This all started when the last Mayor chose the path of least resistance and broke the tie on where the skateboard park would be located. The South Revelstoke Group was not supportive of this location but moved forward to develop what was left of the park. The need for a washroom had been lobbied for since 2000. From the beginning it was nothing but frustration and from non-existent to painfully slow movement.
I have attached just a few emails as examples (more exist) of how Ms. Donato operates. How she has continued to proceed without input being considered by the residents and by not providing a reasonable expected level of communication to the Southside Group.
Ms. Donato seems to have the belief that in her position she has a small kingdom and that those that have to deal with her, must wait for her to decide on what and when she will dispense information. Many requests for updates or specific information are met with silence or vague answers. This last performance is the classic. Mr. Ross, in an email to Ms. Donato on Feb. 10/15, asked for an update, as we had heard nothing since early Dec. 2014. Ms. Donato replies on Feb.12th and makes a statement in regards to Newline on the skateboard park, but makes no mention of the fact that she will be presenting to council on Feb. 24, not site plan 4 alone, but site plan 3, which we never knew still existed. I feel that this was a calculated move on behalf of Ms. Donato and in the way she presented this, a slanted perspective. Her slant that the washroom placement will increase crime, really!!? A small building (exact dimensions unknown as she hasn’t seen the need to give the group this information either) 20 some odd feet of placement will make the difference in crime? This park is about young children and parents and seniors feeling comfortable and safe when using the park, not some statistical quip that will eliminate this from happening by leaving the children’s play area exposed to the coarseness of the skate-park. We held a meeting in the park one summer eve a few years back. The Staff Sargent of the day was there, also there where a couple of councilors and members of the SRC. I asked the Staff Sergeant if beer drinking was okay in the park. She said absolutely not. I suggested that she walk over 20 some odd feet and deal with the case of beer that was being consumed while we were meeting. This was in the wide-open spaces. A washroom moved 20 some odd feet will make no difference to crime, but the children’s play area being left by the skateboard area will have a huge impact. Let’s keep this in perspective. I feel that Ms. Donato needs to be informed that she works for the taxpayers of Revelstoke and it is her job to facilitate the wishes of the residents in a prompt and agenda-free way. Through this entire process this does not appear to be the case. Her position requires the overseeing of the work done in the park. The paving of the pathway was a disaster because nobody was watching the farm. The area where the concrete slabs are located were not excavated to an accepted depth and backfilled with a normal approved depth of clean gravels before the concrete was placed. The concrete, to my knowledge, contains no rebar, another normal accepted requirement. The exercise equipment is placed but there are no signs to show safe and proper usage (unless you look really close at the tiny manufactures sticker). With no proper signage of how to use this equipment, the City opens itself up to the possibility of being held liable, as some of the equipment is dangerous if just stepped on without knowledge of the friction free movement. The park has been nameless for the better part of 2 yrs. because she has not seen the need to do so. Ms. Donato seems to think that the park design centers around the 20 odd foot radius of the washrooms placement, yet seems indifferent to the issues that already exist in the park. This neighbourhood is loyal and proud of the Park. This process has been nothing but turmoil and frustration. We need Council to intervene and correct this. The next phase (skateboard area) will be the most expensive and complex part of this park, its long-range implications could be substantial. I shudder to think if it is handled in the same way as this first straightforward phase has been.
I apologize for the length of this article but to shorten it eliminates the context and perspective. My disappointed at this outcome is inconsequential. The residents who live next to and in view of the park represent at least 75 years of observation and experience. In making recommendations to frame the park into something that is neighbourhood-friendly and safe was always the primary focus.
Any faith in Council’s willingness to take our input seriously evaporated on after the February 24, 2015, Council presentation. In my opinion, the report was biased, narrowly focused and distorted in that it did not fairly represent the majority view. The issue of security seems to be the main reason yet at the meeting on March 23, 2015, the Staff Sergeant (Kurt Grabinsky) stated that Site Plan 3 was his preferred option it was not a case of being 100% for it and 100% opposed to Site Plan 4.
The biggest source of security is the fact that the park is in full view of neighbours who live across from and beside it, but that don’t seem to count for much. The City has established a curfew for the park to give the RCMP a legal reason order people to leave the park late at night. This has been requested many times and those please have always fallen on deaf ears. Hard to believe security is forefront. My main point in this article is to get Council to see that this process is badly broken and needs to be fixed.
Revelstoke citizens had a reputation for being actively involved. Having personally been involved in Financial Focus Groups, the ever-popular failed planning fiasco and now this park issue I finally conclude it’s all lip service. Senior staff will quote chapter and verse out of the book-of-the-day and continue striving to make Revelstoke another Cloneville devoid of the spirit that made us proud of our “Made in Revelstoke” solutions. To Councillors Brothers and Sulz I thank you for your time and effort for putting the meeting together on March 23 in an attempt to bring this back to Council. To Acting Mayor Nixon: you did not even have the decency to come to the meeting to hear the culmination of years of effort and involvement. I applaud your success on becoming a bureaucrat and in missing the point every time: You had a choice and could have redirected this back to Council you chose not.