As part of our ongoing election coverage, the Times Review has posed five questions to the candidates for mayor and council. If you have a question you’d like to ask the candidates, please e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
Our fourth question is:
Addressing the city’s financial challenges and boosting the economy have been the two most common topics raised by candidates. What other single issue do you think is most in need of addressing? Why? What would you do as mayor/councillor to address it?
The big problem, which is no different than most municipalities in the country, is a deficit in infrastructure funding and strong asset management programs that bring a logical and cost effective plan for addressing these core services.
In simple terms, it is the lack of spending on roads, sewers, water and utilities for replacement or upgrading of old and deteriorating systems that is now becoming a major challenge for the city. Adding to the challenges is the limited capacity in some systems that were designed and built years ago for a smaller population. Some systems need to be upgraded to meet increased capacity from growth, and environmental or public expectations. Some of the new capacity will be addressed through development cost charges, while the costs of addressing the existing infrastructure deficit is through taxes.
Council has been successful using federal and provincial grants for infrastructure work, including replacing the main water reservoir on the TCH, extending sewer service to Clearview Heights, replacing and increasing the capacity of the Downie sewage lift station and upgrades to Victoria Road. We are currently working with staff on the preparation of funding requests through the Build Canada fund for priority projects within the city’s financial capacity. These requests will address water security and quality issues as a priority, and may allow the city to address several of the more critical challenges outside of our jurisdiction. The Big Eddy has its own water system and Thomas Brook residents, who are outside city boundaries, rely on two inadequate private systems. We have a moral obligation to our neighbours who deserve clean, safe and adequate water, and I sincerely hope we can resolve the legal hurdles and bring both systems within the city’s jurisdiction in order that we can design, plan and build appropriate and safe systems.
I would like to address the growing disconnect between our community and city hall.
I want to overcome this feeling of separation. Do we need a wake-up call to city hall that the community does not feel heard and is becoming disengaged? Does this foster a growing disdain for local government? Is the community beginning to ignore city hall requirements rather than deal with frustrating process?
Most of us are unfamiliar with, and very seldom enter city hall. We should welcome people, not waste anybody’s time, and have them be given serious consideration. Our staff should be accessible, our processes sensible.
Dealing with these intangibles need not be more expensive and, in fact, should cost less.
We can move mountains if we work together. We need to build a better rapport between city hall and the various committees that help us make the decisions.
City employees want to be proud to work for the City of Revelstoke. Shouldn’t there be a good connection with the community to hear what is important? Let’s give more insight to council in an effort to make decisions easier for them.
We’ve always been a city that prides itself on what we, as community, could do. Our history has always been to look at ourselves, figure out our problems and collectively come up with a solution and implement it. Revitalization was a prime example of that, and later our railway museum and aquatic centre (to name a few) are examples of like-minded volunteers championing their interests. Volunteers keep our community current and attractive to potential newcomers as well as ourselves.
We have had big changes in the last decade and are still having growing pains. We may have differences, but we care deeply about our town and we want to feel the mayor and council are with us.
Boosting the economy to help create more good jobs is important, but affordability is equally important. We need to both attract new people to town, but also work to make sure that those who are already here can afford to stay.
Property values and taxes have increased enormously in the last 10 years, and this has made housing very expensive. We need to lower DCCs, especially for the creation of suites and infill housing. This will give people another source of income, as well as increasing the housing pool which will help lower housing costs.
Another aspect of affordability is transportation. Expanding the bus hours so people can take it to and from work will help. The final piece of this puzzle is environment.
Fixing the Big Eddy Water System needs to be a priority, as does speaking out about the logging on Macpherson, the Begbie bench, Boulder and Frisby. These are recreation areas which increases the value of Revelstoke as a whole, but they are also economic drivers for our long-term economy. We must always be looking at the big picture of how to improve Revelstoke, not just now, but for future generations.