Revelstoke council endorses new high tech strategy

Revelstoke council backs a high tech strategy, and other briefs from last week's meeting.

John Simms presents the high-tech strategy to council.

John Simms presents the high-tech strategy to council.

Revelstoke council endorsed a tech strategy presented the city’s high tech task force after a lengthy debate that bordered on the absurd.

The strategy was presented by John Simms, the chair of the task force, at last Tuesday’s council meeting. The task force was established last year by council to look at ways to promote both the tech sector and the use of technology in Revelstoke.

The strategy includes four priorities for the city:

— Promote Revelstoke “as being an innovative and technology friendly community;”

— Identify challenges to attracting and retaining tech workers and companies;

— Foster a “technology positive environment,” including spurring mingling of tech professionals, increasing youth involvement in technology, and promoting training and education;

— And actively working to identify and target specific technology opportunities.

“I think from a pragmatic local government perspective there are so many supports available that we can access when we put this infrastructure and this planning in place,” said councillor Aaron Orlando, who represented council on the task force.

However, when it came time for council to endorse the strategy later in the meeting, the discussion bordered on the absurd.

Council was set to vote on a motion to “endorse” the strategy when coun. Linda Nixon motioned that council simply “receive” the report, and ask staff to report back on any financial implications. That led to a lengthy debate on the differences between endorsing and receiving the document. Coun. Scott Duke tried to find middle ground by suggesting council “support” the strategy.

In the end, Nixon backed down and the strategy was endorsed, but not before Mayor Mark McKee may have lost the final few hairs on his head. “I don’t see it as a big deal either which way,” he said. “If there’s budget implications, it’s coming back to this table for everyone here to approve.”

Council claws back Grizzlies’ ice-time fee hike

A staff proposal to increase the ice time costs for the Revelstoke Grizzlies was clawed back by council after the team’s ownership protested.

The team’s ice time for games was set to be increased to $101 per hour from $67 per hour. Laurie Donato, the director of parks, recreation & culture, said the increase was to cover the extra staff costs required during game time.

A letter from Ryan Parent, the general manager of the Grizzlies, called the increase “extraordinary” and said it “would be devastating to the operations of our franchise in Revelstoke.”

Council agreed to not raise the rate, instead charging the same as they do for practices – $68.50 per hour – but not before saying that all ice fees should be looked at.

“We are struggling with fees and we are struggling with making sure our fees cover some of the operating costs,” said coun. Connie Brothers. “I want it to be understood that at some point in time we have to reassess this and look at it again.”

The Revelstoke Skating Club and Revelstoke Minor Hockey will pay $61.50 per hour, women’s hockey $88 per hour, and men’s & old-timers’ hockey $125 per hour for ice time under the new fee schedule.

Air service supported

Revelstoke council backed a request for $37,500 in funding to start up air service to town starting in 2017.

The money will come from the Economic Opportunity Fund; funding also needs to be endorsed by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Revelstoke Tourism and the Revelstoke Accommodation Association are all partners in the effort to bring scheduled air service to town next winter. They had hoped to get it up and running this winter, but got started too late.

The money will go towards guaranteeing the availability of airplanes. It is hoped the funding will be recouped through ticket sales and that a private carrier will take up the service in the future. The total cost to book the planes is $111,800.

Development up in 2015

The City of Revelstoke issued more than $15 million in building permits in 2015, a $700,000 increase from 2014, according to a report from the city’s development services department.

The increase was largely driven by a spike in commercial construction, which approached $5 million in 2015 and was led by the new Petro Canada station and Mt. Begbie Brewery. There was 14 new homes built in 2015, though residential permits were largely flat from 2014 to 2015.

The value of industrial permits was down significantly in 2015. It went up in 2014 due to a major project by BC Hydro.

In other development news, council gave first and second reading to a proposal to establish a craft distillery in Revelstoke, and they forwarded on a lengthy report on the 1,200-unit Mackenzie Village development to the Advisory Planning Commission.