- Our Town
Stakeholders fear government will cut Revelstoke recreation officer
There’s no more conservation officer in Revelstoke. Now, local outdoor recreation groups are worried that Revelstoke could lose its recreation officer too, as Ken Gibson prepares for retirement later this year.
"The stuff he's done, who's going to do that for us?" said Dave Kaegi, the president of the Revelstoke Nordic Ski Club. "To have that direct local link of support has been huge. For the mountain bike club, the Nordic ski club, the dirt bike club, he's there to help make things work."
Gibson's retirement is still not entirely certain. In a response to an e-mail from the Times Review he wrote, "It is a little too early to say – likely March 31."
The question of who, if anyone will replace him, has user groups worried. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations gave a positive but non-committal response.
"The Recreation Sites and Trails branch has expressed a desire to retain this position in Revelstoke," said Brennan Clarke. "However, since Mr. Gibson is not due to retire for another three months, it’s too soon to speculate on his replacement."
Gibson was praised by the people we spoke to for his work to help develop Revelstoke's recreation infrastructure. Kaegi called him a "monstrous asset for all clubs in the community," saying he provided great support in getting applications through government bureaucracy.
Chris Pawlitsky, the president of the Revy Riders dirt bike club, said Gibson was "invaluable to the success of our club and probably all the other clubs in town.” He said Gibson was a stickler for the rules and made sure everything was done properly, which he believes has paid off for everyone. Gibson also made sure all the local user groups cooperated and got along, said Pawlitsky.
"It's going to ensure continued success of all the recreational groups in the valley because he wanted everything done so properly," he said.
Mayor David Raven said he was concerned about the possible loss of Gibson's position and that it would be a blow to the community, both because it would mean losing a well-paying, full-time job, and also because it would impact the community's connection to the land base.
"Because the community has a sense of ownership of the resource that surrounds it, the land base that surrounds it, then it will have a corresponding loss of management and control on that land base," he said.
Both Kaegi and Pawlitsky pointed to the fact that Gibson is out skiing on the Nordic trails or riding and jogging on the mountain bike and dirt bike trails, and that he has firsthand knowledge of what is happening here.
There is fear that if his post is moved out of town, whoever takes it over won't have the same local knowledge of what is happening in Revelstoke in the area of recreation infrastructure.
"Say we wanted to get a trail built, if it went to somebody out of town, it wouldn't even be a blip on the radar on some bureaucrats desk in Victoria. It wouldn't mean anything to them," said Pawlitsky.
Revelstoke has seen a boom in recreation infrastructure in recent years, with many new trails and facilities being built thanks to the work of local recreation groups and funding from the tourism infrastructure fund.