Revelstoke city council candidates pictured at the Nov. 2 all-candidates' forum.

COUNCIL CANDIDATES: What are Revelstoke’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? How will your views guide you on council?

What do Revelstoke city council candidates see on the horizon for our community? Bluebird days? A stormy front?



What do Revelstoke city council candidates see on the horizon for our community? Bluebird days? A stormy front?

Our final question in the Revelstoke city council candidates Q&A series is based on a ‘SWOT’ analysis; a common business planning tool that challenges those performing it to think strategically and base planning upon this exercise.

By watching councillors gaze into Revelstoke’s future, we hoped to find out more about what their vision for the future is, and how they will guide us there. Why? The major changes brought on by the opening of Revelstoke Mountain Resort and then the economic downturn starting in 2008 has created vastly different opinions about where we’re at and where we’re going as a community.

This is our final question and we thank all of the candidates for participating. Saturday, Nov. 19 is the election day. Don’t forget to vote.

Here’s the final question:

When you analyse the community of Revelstoke and the City of Revelstoke’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, what conclusions do you draw? Based on your conclusions, what actions will you take as a councillor to be a good steward of our community and guide it into the future?

Steve Bender

Good question and thank you for the healthy amount of coverage in this campaign. I have hopes it will lead to more involvement and an even greater voter turnout which is one of Revelstoke’s greatest strengths. We have often had an above average showing at the polls in municipal elections, now, it would be great if we can garner more youth interest in voting. We could start with that record-large student council at RSS. Would it be interested in a shadow city council, or at the least, a student committee rep?

We have this new, younger, demographic establishing in Revelstoke and they also need to be served, AND SERVE, but I can understand how challenging it is to start a home, start a family, start a business and build a career at the same time. It doesn’t leave much time and energy for other endeavours.

As for the rest of the S.W.O.T. audit; Strengths; our five museums, world class ski resort, natural surroundings, attractive downtown and business areas and being such a good place to raise a family are benefits we need to continue to promote worldwide.

Weaknesses; aging infrastructure (a universal problem); budget for it.

Opportunities; too many to mention here (other than mentioned above)

Threats; attempts to run a city like a business. A municipality is not a for profit business. It is a form of government that must provide the best possible services to all its constituents, WITH THE BEST POSSIBLE BUDGETING, so they can thrive and prosper.

Rick Hodgson

Very recently there was advertisement from the city for an employee to do research on: “the transition of Revelstoke from a resource-based community to a resort-based community and finding best practices.”

I have major difficulties with that concept.

Firstly, putting all your eggs in one basket is rarely a wise decision and this is a basket full of luxury items. In these tough economic times, recreation is becoming more and more an undependable luxury item.

Secondly, is there really a future for a family in a resort-based community? Few of the wages that come with this activity will provide the income required for permanent residence in Revelstoke. And even with a wage coming from the transportation, forestry, health or education sector, resort-inflated rental and real estate costs will continue to deny young families a home of their own.

Solutions? Diversify with an emphasis on resources, both natural and human. Revelstoke has faced problems before and come up with rather creative and unique solutions. The Forestry Corporation, for example. The wood was kept here for local processing. There are many other uses for this resource.

The Energy Corporation is also a rather unique solution. The product and expertise gained should be exploited further.

Solutions to the problems of today and tomorrow will require a creative, cooperative and holistic approach. Not single-minded silo thinking. Revelstoke has been creative before. Time to do it again.

Chris Johnston

When I look at Revelstoke the community, I see the strengths and opportunities outweighing the weaknesses and threats. The strengths are our diversified economy, our people, our history, our location and environment, and our strong sense of community, fostered in part by our location. As well there are a lot of younger people who choose to live here. Given that, we have the opportunity to be the best of the resort communities because we have all the other things in addition to being a resort. We do not have all our eggs in one basket.

Some of the weaknesses and threats, as is often the case, come from the same areas that are our strengths. Our location is a challenge, the resort impact makes affordability a real concern, and there can be conflict or competing interests between old and new.

The City of Revelstoke, the corporation, has many dedicated quality staff who care about the services they deliver. We also have the opportunity from our resort status for funding to build tourism infrastructure, something that I think benefits us but does not come out of strictly local taxpayers. As council, I think we can work to ensure that considering all of this we make sure that we deliver quality services that the community wants and needs, effectively and affordably. We can work for attainable housing, a safe clean environment and making Revelstoke a great place to work, play and visit.

Linda Nixon

Revelstoke has so many strengths starting with the people who live here and raise their families here, the beauty of Revelstoke is the lifestyle and the freedom to choose so many outdoor activities through all the seasons. I would like to see more adult education taught in Revelstoke about snow management. The threat to this is our highway closures and with the hard work of many citizens work on the highway has begun but needs to continue, the Three Valley Gap is a big issue to solve. This weakness in our transportation route leaves some people only remembering that about Revelstoke: “I was stuck there three days.” We need to continue to overcome these obstacles by continuing to work with government above municipal level to resolve the Trans-Canada Highway which was built to accommodate the 1960s level of traffic. The context of development is a global softening economy makes all business cautious and it is time to step back and think things through before spending more of local taxpayers’ money. The trade with the Pacific countries can bode well for B.C. and Revelstoke. While we are transitioning to a resort status we can never forget that we are part of the resource-based economy of this province. A good idea can come from anywhere and if the Okanagan does not want to house prisoners, that is something to look at. We need more jobs that are well paying for a family to buy a home. With the baby boomers hitting 65, we need to look at that market and ask ourselves what we can build for that group of consumers. I would like to see parking courtesy for elderly and young Moms with babes at banks, grocery stores and the clinic much like you see in the bigger centres. Revelstoke has a history of being a welcoming community and I want to help ensure that we keep that culture as the city grows. Revelstoke is no secret in the world, the young people travelling and the boomers retiring and travelling are our best ambassadors. We need to support their voices and an example of this is two young men surfing off the coast of France and hearing the word Revelstoke in the water as they are waiting for the next wave. Revelstoke is ready for the next wave and I want to help be part of that welcome committee.

Jason Roe

Thank you and the Revelstoke Times Review for doing such a great job of covering this election.

Revelstoke’s strengths have to be the passion and the resilience of our community. We are all living a life envied by many around the world, safe and secure, clean water and air, beautiful natural environment, friendly and inviting community.

Our weaknesses if any is becoming complacent to the great community and environment we all enjoy, not watching our expenses and making our lifestyle unaffordable to many.

Our opportunities are many because of what we have, where we are, and the history Revelstoke has of looking at what needs to be done and getting it done.  Revitalization, Railway Museum, forming our own Community Forest and Energy Corporation, selling the ski hill. These are all made-in-Revelstoke solutions and we need to bring this kind of thinking to city hall. That’s why I am running for city council

Our threats are not recognized when a problem is growing, but an even worse threat is not doing anything about it.

I will bring a business approach to city council, sound financial decision making and work towards getting the best bang for your hard earned tax dollars. I can make the tough decisions that need to be made when it comes to Revelstoke’s future …your future … my future.

On Nov. 19 please vote for Jason Roe. In the meantime, if you any questions about my objectives and campaign, please contact me at jason@blktie.ca

Tony Scarcella

Revelstoke is a friendly community surrounded by majestic mountains. We enjoy four distinct seasons which results in a varied selection of recreational activities.

Warm weather means hiking, rock climbing, team sports and much more. Snow is definitely an asset, attracting snowmobiling, many types of skiing, snow-shoeing and other winter sports. All recreational activities enhance tourism which brings revenue to very many businesses.

We have several major employers in the community.  Included are CPR, two sawmills, the forest industry and RMR to name a few.

We enjoy good health care and a hospital within easy reach. Our neighbourhood schools are well maintained and we can boast of the new high school and a pending elementary school.

Revelstoke is situated on the Trans-Canada Highway which means we have the opportunity to attract tourists who need accommodations, food and beverage, and all related business. Increased business means more job opportunities, therefore more families to Revelstoke. Upgrades to the Trans-Canada Highway and the local airport would be another avenue to bring people into this community.

Though the strengths outweigh the weaknesses, I see the tax rate as a deterrent. It is important to stabilize the taxes to attract and retain families and businesses in the community. If there are citizens who cannot afford the current rent or house prices, they will either leave our community or will not be able to move to our location. The same reasoning applies to large and small industry. If taxes keep increasing during these current tough times, it will equate to job loss and future loss of new employment.

The threat I can foresee is the aging infrastructure. Money needs to be put aside for large capital projects along with longer term planning. A five- to 10-year plan will allow the city to achieve the goal of improving infrastructure by forecasting where money can be saved through efficiency.

As I have done for 12 years as city councillor, I will continue to represent the citizens of this community, if elected. I will continue to listen to the taxpayers and work towards resolving issues. Also I see working with community partners to enhance family friendly opportunities and recreational sports and leisure. As a long term resident and business owner, I realize the importance of a strong community and feel that I have the knowledge and experience to help move Revelstoke to a successful future.

Jody Simm

Looking at Revelstoke as a whole, I see mostly strengths. We have a strong economy (we’re still emerging from the Great Recession), with new businesses starting up all the time. We’ve also had our major industrial partners stand with us through challenging times. We’re virtually surrounded by National Parks, which are a “free product” of unsurpassed quality for our tourism operators and locals to benefit from. We have a booming social scene, with great bands and DJs coming through all of the time, and we are getting our own new FM radio station. We’re ranked in the top two in the province for early childhood education and have great civic amenities for everyone.

Like most municipalities and governments at all levels, we’re experiencing difficult financial times. This can be worked through by being extremely careful about all new spending, and a very modest (1.5 per cent or about $20 for the average residential home) tax increase to put toward paying down the debt. Our other main weakness is a lack of decent affordable housing. This will impact businesses and industry when the recession ends, as workers and consumers will experience major housing challenges.

If elected councillor, I will push for responsible spending and responsible debt management to create long-term financial stability (stability encourages investment). I would push for user-pay high density affordable housing to be started immediately on city lands, built with green principles using locally sourced forest products. In all decisions, I would put the long term well being of Revelstoke first.

Gary Starling

If you look at Revelstoke as a whole package, we have much to be thankful for. We have a strong industrial and commercial base to build on. As well we have many social and community projects that are unique. We stand out in this area when compared to other communities of our size in the province. Revelstoke is, in my opinion, still one of the best places to live in Canada and perhaps beyond. I considerate privileged to live here.

However I believe we may be facing a financial crisis in the near future. We are simply spending too much. I believe we need to take a serious look at prioritizing our spending and do projects that are necessary to maintain our current infrastructure and services.

As a councillor I would work towards a budget that keeps our spending within the limits of our current tax base. This is the only way we can ensure a stable and healthy community in the future. I would also work towards promoting accountability within all departments. We need to ensure that we are getting the absolute best value for our tax dollar.

I am committed to be diligent and fair in acting on our cities behalf. I have always felt that I am a good listener and I want to listen to the concerns of all and act on them accordingly. There is much work to be done. Let’s get started!

Pat Wells

Our biggest strength has always been our geography, we are on our own and have developed strengths as a community that come from our relative isolation. We are a complete community. That is to say we are just isolated enough to have developed a very strong sense of who we are. We meet problems with “made in Revelstoke” solutions. We are not overwhelmed by some of the problems that face many other communities – rampant sprawl, violent crime, congestion, etc.

We are a community of highly educated and experienced people, municipal staff, and engaged citizens. This too is a product of our geography.

Living and indeed thriving in a mountainous area requires from people a certain energy, it also brings energy to those people. We love it here in this valley, mountains steer us and we embrace their burliness and deal with their intractable nature, we are defined by our geography and it shows in our pride of place.

Another strength is the depth of our economic base, multi-tiered and not reliant on one single industry.

Thinking outside the box has been the strength of our town, the strength of our people. We need to enable that to thrive, so that we as a community can come together with all our strengths and abilities and turn divisiveness into commonalities, people as a positive form of energy I guess one could say. As Councillor I would work towards keeping people engaged and open-minded, balancing lifestyle with vigilance over the guardianship of that lifestyle.

Phil Welock

When I look at the strengths of the City, the first I see are our Pioneers and their vast experiences. Think about those who were displaced because of the flooding in the valley and the stories they are able to tell. These are both positive and negative and there is still resentment there. That lesson will be long remembered and should always be referred to when development is planned within the City. Other strengths are our environment, abundant natural resources, ability to adapt to change, pride and diversity. The most obvious is the citizens themselves, both new and old. Being able to acquire grant funding from the Columbia Basin trust as well their Fish and Wildlife programmes is a definite strength. That money is for us!

Weaknesses need to be highlighted and addressed. I’ll start with our isolation and the fact that we rely so heavily of the Railroad and Trans-Canada Highway. Our reliance on one major industry being forestry causes concern. We need to diversify our economic base in the immediate future as well as address the access off of and onto the TCH.

Without a partnership with the Transportation Ministry, the City and Developers the issue will not be addressed as quickly as it needs to be. Reliance on electricity and propane to supply heat need to be addressed. Should we lobby Fortis to provide more expensive natural gas to the City? Reliance on mega projects can be seen as a weakness as well as a strength. I’m fine with that provided locals are hired on those projects.

Opportunities in Forestry, Mining, CP Rail, BC Hydro exist. There are other opportunities in Tourism and the Retail Sector as well as the Social Service Sector. Educational opportunities can be addressed through Okanagan College and the School District and should be a priority.