Personally, I feel that Revelstoke’s economy is doing quite well. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we can’t do better. We are lucky here to have a diversified economy which is resilient and does not rely on any single area. Though increasingly, we are becoming more dependent on tourism. While tourism creates many opportunities for small businesses to flourish, it does not create a large number of stable high paying jobs. Having said that, I think we could definitely increase tourism in the shoulder seasons, and my idea would be to attract bird watchers here which would be a good, sustainable industry.
As I have stated previously, I think it is important to lower commercial taxes in order to spur the creation of new businesses, as well to aid those that are already here. In addition, I think the city could do more to help foster forestry jobs in town. I would like to see the city have more of a say in how the forests around town are managed. The creation of more private wood lots, as well as more value-added wood products being produced in town seems like a very sensible solution to the issue of good jobs. RCFC has been very successful in providing good jobs for the community, and I think looking into expanding its tenure could help keep jobs local. For more of my ideas, visit www.mikebrookshillformayor.ca.
More business means more jobs. I see a positive business outlook for the future, and local retail sales are showing increases.
Downie Timber and the railway are busy and remain two important pillars of our economy. City hall does not have a working relationship with our third pillar, the resort, and city hall is not viewed by the business community as “open for business.” This has to change.
Our development and planning processes have to be improved, clear and concise. Applicants must be confident that if they follow our guidelines, they will be approved.
Looking at initiatives adopted by other communities, the mayor of Penticton spoke in Revelstoke and mentioned some ideas. They made land available for development at reduced or no cost, lowered development cost charges, gave tax breaks, or did a combination of these. Over time, these innovations will pay off. If council thinks it makes sense we should do it.
Revelstoke has a solid business base and we should be helping and encouraging growth. Last year, some business people made a list of businesses they thought would be viable in Revelstoke. Why not give someone a chance at a new business, have an existing business expand, or perhaps help businesses to relocate to Revelstoke
A Canadian Federation of Independent Business report put Revelstoke taxes in the top 20 least sustainable in B.C. We haven’t been wasting our tax money – it’s been spent on infrastructure, water, sewer and roads. But we must do better with our spending. We should work collaboratively and vigorously on common goals, marketing, affordable housing and a solution to our golf course.
I do not agree the local economy is as bad as some would have you believe. Revelstoke has a balanced economy with strong employment in transportation, forest industry, power generation, services, construction and tourism. Over the last three years there has been significant growth and employment opportunity in all sectors. Business licences are a record high at 972, building permits are higher than last year, there have been opportunities with construction and Revelstoke Mountain Resort’s business has grown. There has been growth in related small-business opportunities, with some very innovative and creative new businesses.
I have taken every opportunity to talk to business owners and operators, and most expressed they were busy and doing well.
Development of both commercial and residential properties, and other opportunities in the community, is necessary and a high priority for me and this council. We’ve made significant changes in the planning and development services at city hall with more certainty, and clearly-defined processes for all developers and builders. I have maintained open office hours and ensured I was available to assist any developer or new business. My approach has been open, fair and consistent for all developers, with the understanding they understand the challenges of their business and want equity and stability in the development and regulatory process.
I have been working with council on a number of key initiatives that would encourage and facilitate economic development in Revelstoke. These include the recent announcements by Fortis for natural gas service, which will have significant savings for residential and commercial clients. I plan to continue my work on high-speed Internet service, improvements to the TCH, policing and highway rescue services, bio-energy and waste utilization, tourism development and expansion, including the need for additional accommodations, housing developments and affordability, and stability in the business community.