An open letter in response to resident emails and the article below from May 17, 2021
To the Editor,
I empathize with the feelings of frustration in the neighbourhood around Victoria Rd and the new workshop for Arrowtec. It’s important to advocate when you disagree with something in your neighbourhood, and I appreciate that the residents brought their concerns up the channels. It’s also important to find some measure of peace and understanding with our civic governance system, our rules are designed to help guide conflicts between neighbours and find some resolution. To be clear, council is not elected to be subject matter experts on how the rules are applied; we are here to represent our community’s wishes on how the rules are set.
After the Council meeting discussion last week (May 11), I feel confident that the staff in Development Services have been consistent and professional in how they have interpreted and applied our (admittedly outdated) bylaws in the case of 606 Victoria Rd. In my opinion, any further involvement in the process would be overstepping our role as council.
I got involved in politics to do the important big picture work – improving how we set our rules to live by – so that they can be fairly applied and accessible to all our residents. At the meeting, we all agreed that we need to address our outdated bylaws and pockets of old zoning in our neighbourhoods. The truth is that we’re well on our way through this process for several bylaws. I trust that Development Services is supporting the council in modernizing these rules for Revelstoke with clearer definitions and simple language, and welcome any interested parties to tune in to our Committee of the Whole meetings on the city’s Youtube channel.
As for the current situation on Victoria Rd., this is not something council can “put a stop to” in the way some neighbours are requesting. The business is within their rights on the property. Building and development permits, as we heard in the meeting, do not impact use – if use is mentioned to provide clarity on the building being described, it is not binding on the property rights. The zoning designates allowed uses, and since the property is zoned for light manufacturing, they require only a business permit to operate within the definitions of the appropriate bylaws.
As for the frustration with the wording of our current bylaws, this can and should be directed at council. We are working to clarify and reconfigure definitions in our building and zoning bylaws to design and enable a future where we can find compromise and enjoy our spaces together. Our zoning bylaw for example, was adopted in 1984 and has 133 amendments since then, the most recent in December last year. This along with seven other bylaws and six policies are currently being drafted for council consideration. These will take time to adopt and implement, and they will require compromise from everyone.
To find that compromise, we need to talk with our neighbours and understand the needs of all stakeholders. Talk Revelstoke is bringing our voices together virtually in the Official Community Plan as we complete the various Master Plans. They in turn describe the details of how we’re going to get to our vision. I encourage you to subscribe at talkrevelstoke.ca!
I hope that the neighbourhood can come to resolve this in the long term, and that they engage as part of the Official Community Plan process. The Housing Action Plan, Transportation Master Plan and Bylaw updates that are coming this year would benefit greatly from their input.
For my part as a city councillor, I am focused on engaging in robust conversation with residents and stakeholder groups at various committee and board meetings. Our City bylaws and policies are our rules to live by; they should be clearly understood by, and applied fairly to, all the people in our community.
Until next time,
Revelstoke City Councillor