The interview with Minister Steve Thomson was disappointing to say the least, but not surprising given the one dimensional view his government displays towards economic development. More than 1,000 people have petitioned to have the land use re-examined in the Begbie Falls and Mt. Macpherson area. This says that there seems to be more people who have an interest in preserving this area than destroying it. I do not believe that more than 1,000 local people will benefit from using this area as a timber harvest, while leaving a very popular recreational development destroyed for years.
The basis for the minister’s position seems to be supported by a plan which is almost 20 years old. The changes that have occurred in Revelstoke’s economy since then are seismic. Tourism and recreational pursuits will be the dominant economy in far less than the next 20 years. For Revelstoke to continue to be successful in this competitive market we need to re-think all land designations in all local areas.
The success of places like Banff, Whistler and Canmore are directly related to the easy access to the natural environment in which people bike, ski and hike. Doing these activities in a clear cut forest will certainly make us unique in the market we are competing in, though I don’t think this product will bring the revenue we need to continue with the success we have been seeing. Unfortunately Minister Thomson doesn’t know the difference between an experience in a natural environment and a clear cut, as he states the trails will remain untouched, an absurd comment.
In the 24 years I have been living in Revelstoke, I have been witnessing a wonderful transition from an industrial town to a resort. As I said earlier, this change has been seismic given the history of Revelstoke. These changes have brought many young families to a town that seemed to be on life support when I came here in 1991. These young families bring two new things into our economy: first, a wonderful youthful entrepreneurial spirit, and, second, revenue from outside the city as people do not always work where they live anymore. It is now time for city council to make it known if it supports the new economy for the long term or it will milk the last drops of revenue from the old economy, possibly putting the future economy at risk.
The current council ran on platform of change and if they don’t recognize this issue as part of the change that needs to made, their mandate is based on false promises. If we do not start preparing for the day that the mill closes and CP trains do not stop here anymore, when these things happen it will pale in comparison to a few logging jobs lost to saving the Begbie and Macpherson recreational area. Lets look forward not backward. It would a huge mistake to put the new economy at risk for a short life line to the old one.