During last week’s two hour public hearing on the proposed Trans-Canada Highway shopping centre, one point, made by Randy Driediger, jumped out at me — the need for greater public input on the development.
The public hearing was pretty remarkable as far as they go. Thirty-three people took the time to send in comments to city hall, though it was many of the same that got up to speak.
Still, as Driediger pointed out, we were only hearing from some 30-40 out of 7,000+ residents. For a development that could profoundly change Revelstoke, that’s not enough.
What was missing was a proper open house, hosted by the city and the developers, where the public could have seen copies of the plan and provided feedback. I’m talking about something like the open house held for David Evans’ Mackenzie Village in Arrow Heights that was attended by about 150 people.
The result was Evans was asked to produce seven reports prior to the development moving forward to first reading.
An open house for the shopping centre would have given both the developers and the city a better idea of public sentiment and allowed them to craft a proposal more palatable to the vocal opposition. It may have also been able to solicit the views of the general public. As it is, it’s mostly the business community that provided feedback for the public hearing.
An open house isn’t required, but it also wasn’t necessary for the Evans development. For the latter, the city asked for an open house because of the scope of the development. The shopping centre might not be as big in scale, but it’s just as impactful.
At its most basic the highway development is a simple re-zoning, but it’s really much more than that. Few issues have galvanized public opinion in my time in Revelstoke. As much feedback as possible should be solicited before council makes a decision.