To the Editor:
The recent ultimatum issued by Revelstoke councillors to the Regional District for significant increases in the cost of rural fire protection leads one to speculate who will be targeted next for political arm-twisting. Well established neighbourhoods, plans for resort development, and now agreements with rural residents, have all fallen prey to the current political enthusiasm for dismantling the existing community while bolstering speculative investment.
The South Revelstoke Diagnostic Inventory has just been released. The Inventory lays the foundation for coordinated planning between Revelstoke and the Regional District for governance and service delivery in the lands south of RMR, including fire protection. Yet city councillors want to import piecemeal solutions from Fernie.
The situation in Fernie is dramatically different from Revelstoke. The resort at Fernie is located outside city boundaries. An urgent water shortage during the winter of 2002/2003 precipitated the development of a rural fire area which encompassed the resort lands, 700 accommodation units and the West Fernie subdivision, an area four times the population of rural Revelstoke with much greater property values.
The Diagnostic Inventory contains new baseline information about fire services in South Revelstoke and how they are paid for. The report reveals that the Rural Revelstoke Fire Area currently pays 3/10th of one percent of assessed property values to the City of Revelstoke for contracted fire protection services. By contrast, Revelstoke property owners pay less than 1/10th of one percent of assessed value for fire protection.
In the decade after the resort at Fernie opened, unconstrained highway development devastated the community. In the wake of spiralling speculative investment, the downtown
and neighbourhoods emptied. More recently, significant community-based effort and investment has reversed this trend. Rather than importing bandaid solutions, we can learn from Fernie’s experience to embrace investment while resolutely preserving community cohesion.
Retired Architect AIBC