This submission from a well-known member of the community who asked not to be identified deals with her reaction to the way an Open House on Thursday evening regarding a proposed 1,500-dwelling development in Arrow Heights was handled by City staff. While I generally discourage anonymous postings on The Current I am allowing this because I understand her position.
The City and the developers of the 1500-house high density infill development proposed for Arrow Heights hosted an open house on Thursday evening at Arrow Heights Elementary School to solicit community feedback before applying to rezone part of the community.
The event was very well attended by community members, with between 150 and 200 residents from all areas of the city attending this event. That should have made it an excellent forum for discussion and ideas around this proposed major change to our community. But it was not to be.
This open house was far from open, and that seemed to suit City staff, but not necessarily the actual community. There was no opportunity for community discussion, in fact the evening seemed designed to actively prevent people from asking questions publicly or having any sort of community discussion.
Dean Strachan, manager of Development Services for the City, gave a very short presentation, mostly about the density of the housing and the type of commercial activities they are hoping for. However his presentation stated only that density would be less in areas near current housing, and that commercial activities would primarily serve the immediate location and not draw more traffic to the area.
He said nothing about the potential of having another 3,000 cars driving past Arrow Heights Elementary School each day, or the possibility that 1,500 more houses on the market might swamp the real estate market in Revelstoke, or where 3,000 more jobs might be found.
With the presentation over, Mr. Strachan withdrew to the information panels at the side of the room saying that people would be welcome to come and ask him questions individually. When several residents asked him to allow a short time for people to share questions publicly in front of the whole group, Mr. Strachan denied them that opportunity, saying that the format of the evening had been pre-planned and could not be changed, even though many people were asking for a more open group question and answer time.
The format laid down by the City and the developer allowed for absolutely no community discussion, prevented anyone from hearing what others thought, and averted all those difficult questions from being opened up to the residents of our community.
Residents were given the chance to submit written comments to the City, which will be compiled into a report and presented to Council. It is understood that there is a requirement for comments to be written down to make them viable during the democratic process of deciding whether, or how this project goes ahead.
However, at this stage, the overwhelming need is for community discussion, and it was felt by many at the open house that the City and developers have made either a very poor try at creating a forum for discussion, or have actively tried to prevent that discussion from occurring.