Consultants

Revelstoke residents vote on long-term sustainability priorities

A backcountry recreation plan? A food security charter? Financial awareness plans? Stable paramedic staffing? – What does Revelstoke want?

Climate adaptive landscaping? An urban forest plan? Greeley Creek watershed protection? Illecillewaet Greenbelt management plan? A backcountry recreation plan for the region? A food security charter? Financial awareness initiatives? A storm-water management plan? Stable paramedic staffing? More inter-generational activities? Better small and home-based business support? An arts centre at Mountain View School?

This is just a small sampling of may ‘priority actions’ residents voted on as part of an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) fair at the community centre on Feb. 21.

Residents placed stickers next to ideas they’d like to see move forward over the 20-year plan. Many of the ideas were generated during planning sessions in late 2012.

Consultant Peter Russell explained the ICSP is an umbrella plan that charts a course for the city over the next 20 years.

“It’s going to be an overarching plan,” Russell said, explaining it helped coordinate the dozens of other planning documents the city has created over the past decade. “This is a high-level plan and a long-term plan.”

ICSP committee member Kevin Dorrius said he was impressed with the plan so far. “It’s been a real interesting process,” he said. “It’s meant to be a guiding tool.”

Dorrius, a business analyst with Community Futures Revelstoke, helped bring economic input to the ICSP.

Consultants working on the plan have struggled to convey the plan was not a ‘green’ plan, but one that sought to balance economic and social development as well as environmental concerns. Past iterations of the ICSP were known as Community Development Action Plans, but the new ‘sustainability’ wording caused some to assume it was primarily environment-related.

During one of two presentation, stakeholders gave talks about the ICSP and other planning processes.

A key theme was the important relationship between planning processes and real-world community projects. They said that most big community initiatives were first identified in planning documents; if you don’t identify them in the plan, they aren’t likely to happen.

At a sparsely-attended 4 p.m. presentation (the main one was later at 7 p.m.) city economic development director Alan Mason listed many past and current civic projects first identified through planning processes. He gave examples such as the Social Development Committee, the anti-idling policy, solid waste management plan, curbside recycling, the Grizzly Plaza extension, transit improvements and bike pathway improvements as a few.

Mason also stressed economic sustainability was key; just over a decade ago, the city struggled to keep residents in town due to failing economic circumstances. At the time, other towns were unveiling ambitious green initiatives, while Revelstoke focused on economic diversification, such as local wood manufacturing, just to keep the lights on.

Presenter Nelli Richardson also said planning was key to initiatives, including the social sector – one of three traditional pillars of sustainability. She noted the completion of new schools and said it wasn’t long ago that Revelstoke risked being amalgamated into the Salmon Arm school district. The community had to fight to maintain autonomy and Revelstoke has made many social development strides since then, but still has serious issues to tackle.

“Substance use in our community is a huge, huge problem. As a community, we need to understand addiction better,” Richardson said. “That is definitely something that needs to be addressed.”

The tally of stickers from the all-day open house wasn’t available by press time. The ICSP report is scheduled to be completed for council consideration in about a month.

 

 

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