Life behind the Great Steel Barrier

Take a trip back in time and beyond the CPR Mainline's Great Steel Barrier with Bob Melnyk as he considers how Revelstoke had dealt with shopping controversies of the past. P{lease click on the image to see a larger version of this photo. David F. Rooney photo
Take a trip back in time and beyond the CPR Mainline’s Great Steel Barrier with Bob Melnyk as he considers how Revelstoke dealt with the pressing shopping controversies of the past. Please click on the image to see a larger version of this photo. David F. Rooney photo

By Bob Melnyk
While I respect the rights and opinions of our business community I would like to take you, dear reader, on a little trip back in time…
In the early 1960s there was a gas station corner of Fourth Street and Downie. This was located just outside of the city boundary at that time. The business changed hands and continued on. A number of years later the business owner (Mr. Al Waters) took the chance and built the first phase of Southside.
This created quite a controversy, as I recall. There was a certain kind of thinking that went like this: “Who is he to build a grocery store outside of town? It will have a negative effect on the town core, said many. Years later it went through a phase-two expansion and is what you see today. The building sits in amidst a residential neighborhood and driving by it appears as though it was always there.
Now, let’s jump forward to the Alpine Mall and the upheaval that ensued… “This is going to kill our town core! Just look what it did to Vernon when the Village Green was built!” I fail to see what Vernon has to do with Revelstoke but you know… wait and see.
We go through the 1986 Revite, which had an amazing result and is something to be proud of.
We move onto the early years of this century when Pharmasave built a very stylish and welcome addition. But then — you guessed it — some people began moaning about what would happen to the empty store front it left on Mackenzie Avenue where for years it operated as Donaldson’s Drugstore. That spot on Mackenzie had the location of a drug store for my whole life… and it’s leaving the town core? Well, today I walk by and I am fairly certain there is a business behind that brown paper.
If one looks at the distance from Southside to the Mall it is probably the same to the highway property from the Mall. People from Arrow Heights shop at Southside or Coopers and even drive all the way to Tim Hortons. We have cried foul for years at City Council: it is nothing but a bunch of business people who don’t want any new or competing businesses, said many. And now we’re back in the same position — divided over development — that we were in years ago.
We have spent endless thousands of tax dollars trying to entice tourists to come to our city. In all fairness with some success but it would really be nice if they could figure out the sign placement coming out of Mutas Road indicating the location of Revelstoke’s city center and an alternate route to TCH. Its current placement is a joke. I dare you to try and figure out how to run the gauntlet to get out of Dodge and observe the sign you just passed.
Put the damn sign behind the bear across the road so while waiting and waiting you can experience the revelation that there really is a second way out of Dodge. Go figure. You will discover on your way out that it takes you right by the core.
Take the time to go up and walk the contentious property look to the southwest across to Mounts Begbie and Macpherson. Did you know there is a city behind the great steel barrier that is the CPR Mainline?
Look at Jacobson Ford’s attractive modern appearance. And wait — what is that big building down the mainline and across the road and a little farther down? That’s a new and stylish strip of buildings I think we need to go and investigate.
This is what I see happening with this development as we go forward: We gain another perspective on Revelstoke. Imagine a one-way street into town, complete with a two-way bike/pedestrian path.
You arrive at the Railway Museum and have a light-controlled intersection to use on your way to explore the city behind the great barrier.
I have a lot of respect for some of our business people. I will not name them for fear of missing one. I will continue to shop and support you I will promote you I will defend you and your business when I hear ill will and complaints about small town businesses for yours are good. To the others again I respect your right to your opinion, but I feel this was not the best approach.
See you up at the property — enjoy the view and imagine the possibilities!
Bob Melnyk is a life-long Revelstokian who is not afraid to speak his mind