More than is good for anyone’s health or sanity. That’s how many city meetings, open houses, planning sessions and committee sessions I sit through.
Yet, despite paying close attention, I couldn’t tell you where the City of Revelstoke is going from here. Here’s why.
Even casual followers know the basics: Five years of intensive, resort-driven planning processes. A total overhaul of all development-related bylaws and policies. Then, after years of macroeconomic disaster, the planning director resigns. From there, a new ‘restraint’ agenda with a focus on improved customer service at city hall.
That’s the city hall story at its most basic.
But many plotlines haven’t been wrapped up.
For example, we were told the economic downturn was actually fortuitous, in a sense. The pause allowed Revelstoke to modernize its planning and development processes in time for the next development boom. Currently, the plans are half-finished, but the overall unified development bylaw has been killed. How is this going to be tied back together? It hasn’t been sorted out. What happens if the economy picks up?
The transportation plan is another example. It’s been received by the city, then it has basically fallen off the agenda, and lingered for years.
What about the vacation rental plan? Remember that one? The city was going to allow new vacation rental zones through the city. That’s just faded away.
The Integrated Community Sustainability Plan was presented to council in the past months. Is that going to occupy space on the shelf alongside the others?
There are several more inter-related planning processes that are also in limbo.
The City of Revelstoke’s new customer-focused agenda seemed to be well-received when it was announced earlier this year. Looking at it another way, the city pronounced it would do what it should have been doing all along: providing adequate customer service.
Better-received was the austerity messaging; the results of that effort will be measured in dollars, and will be assessed in the coming months when budget numbers roll out.
The City of Revelstoke – staff and council – needs to communicate what their intentions are around these outstanding planning issues. Until they do, we’re faced with an uncertainty-generating, investment-killing vacuum of information. There is no clarity around plans or directions for the future.
I write this as a close observer of city hall; if you’re further removed, you may assume you missed a plot turn when you skipped an episode. You didn’t.
In fact, you didn’t miss anything; just the deus ex machina that is restraint and efficiency messaging, and an apparent unwillingness or inability on city hall’s part to address years worth of unfinished (and expensive!) planning processes.