On Jan. 28, the Revelstoke Review hosted a forum for the upcoming city byelection. The three candidates vying for the one vacant seat of council are Tim Palmer, Matt Cherry and Alistair Taylor.
Here are some highlights. Candidates responses have been edited for clarity and length.
What are the main issues facing Revelstoke and how would you address them?
Palmer: Environment, affordable housing and economic recovery.
Environment: remove organic waste from the garbage stream. Help create a backcountry access plan, lobby for long term protection for Mt. Begbie and help create a dog park.
Affordable housing: cut red tape to encourage private housing developments, reduce DCCs (Development cost charges) for infill developments and secondary suites, increase DCCs for large scale developments and create a task force to address housing crisis.
Economic recovery: No property tax increase for 2021.
Cherry: Housing, infrastructure and taxes.
Housing: Encourage densification, more secondary suites, carriage homes and staff accommodation.
Infrastructure: Roads are poor, pipes are old and sewage lagoon needs upgrading. We need to increase funding to these by increasing DCCs.
Taxes: Grandfather some of the non-confirming secondary suites into the city’s tax pool
Taylor: Revelstoke is in great danger of becoming a rich person’s playground. I came here for the mountains as a mountaineer. It will always be a beautiful area, but it will be a shame if people cannot afford to live here. We need to sit down and talk to everyone. Have a cup of tea and a drop of whiskey.
Since budget deliberations are ongoing at the moment, what are you thoughts on property taxes for this year?
Palmer: No increases for 2021
Cherry: No increases for 2021
Taylor: I’m expecting a property tax increase this year. It seems to be the way of life. Suck it up.
Last year, council approved a controversial multi-phase, multi-family development on Hay Road. If you had been on council, how would you have voted and why?
Palmer: I will not say if I would have voted yes or no, because it was approved.
Cherry: I would have voted for it.
Taylor: I think I would have voted for it.
What do you think of the city’s response to the COVID crisis and how should the city support recovery?
Palmer: We need to be more active. Assign a council member to the recovery task force. The no property tax increase would help. Some tax relief for businesses that implement measures for the environment and affordable housing. Increase opening hours for city hall.
Cherry: City has been doing a decent job. However, many businesses are relying on wage, rent subsidies and tourism is almost null. The town is empty and businesses are hurting. No property tax increase would be a start and the city can expand due dates for business licenses and other billings.
Taylor: Not going to criticize the city. We do what we can. I like Gary Sulz’s message to be kind. I have no easy answers.
How should the city address social issues, such as drug-use, homelessness and affordability?
Palmer: I am not an expert on social issues. We need to rely on the expertise of others as there are people in the community that understand the complexity of social issues.
Cherry: I need to do more research. Look to the province and federal governments for funding and see what assets the city has for land and buildings. I will trust the local professionals.
Taylor: I would get my buddy Rick to talk to council. He is homeless and comes to Revelstoke every year. He knows the issues inside and out. I would like to see a shelter for men here. The woman’s shelter is doing some great work, but it would be great if there was a place for men. Are we going to be a town for millionaire’s playground or a town for everyone? Anyone can fall through the cracks. Myself included, I used to live on the streets.
What is your top contribution to Revelstoke since moving here?
Palmer: Four years working for the city as CAO
Cherry: Working in the long-term housing industry
Taylor: A performance I gave at the coffee house one night in the basement of the United Church
The by-election is on Feb. 13 with advance polls Feb. 3 and 10 at the community centre.