Letter to the editor.

LETTER: New signs not a good use of RMI money

There are other more pressing things we need in Revelstoke

A while ago I wrote a letter regarding that gargantuan contract with Cygnus Design, (Google them, they’re pretty slick) for a sum of $3.8 M, for new wayfinding signs. That sum was later reduced to $3.2 M , and would be spread over six years. Only the first phase, for $550,000, would be covered by the Resort Municipality Initiative (RMI).

(Editor’s note: Though the overall plan for the wayfinding project was approved by council, each phase will be approved one by one and a separate budget is created for each.)

Resort communities in British Columbia that participate in collecting the Municipal and Regional District Tax, (MRDT) qualify to receive RMI monies. MRDT replaces the old Hotel Tax.

At the time of my first letter, I urged the City of Revelstoke and city council to not treat this money as merely some lottery windfall, but to treat it with the respect it deserves. It’s tax money and it’s a part of the public purse. (As a side note, I recently was speaking with a city councillor. We talked about the big ticket wayfinding tab and it was suggested that I “needed to get off that horse”. It was also inferred, that because the tax revenue came from out-of-towners, that perhaps it was not such a sin to be so frivolous with it).

READ MORE: UPDATE: Revelstoke City Council approves potentially million dollar signage project

In my previous letter, I had suggested maybe some of that money could be used for some long overdue infrastructure, like an updated sewage treatment plant , for example. Especially given three new hotels, two new subdivisions and employees residences all coming online in the very near future. I get it that such projects aren’t that sexy, or aren’t fully understood and appreciated.

We recently opened a new traffic circle. The work was awarded to a company that promised to be done in September. They were paid $250,000 more than a local company.

(Editor’s note: We were not able to confirm this amount as it was not included in the report to council when the contract was awarded, though Jake Jay Construction came in second after the Negotiated Request for Proposal submissions were evaluated.)

There was no performance clause that penalized the company for being late. Near the end of construction, a city planner thought it would be swell if we could get the same kind of lights he had experienced in Whistler. $300,000 upgrade, thankfully turned down.

(Editor’s note: We were unable to confirm if any such request for lighting was made. And do not have information about late penalties for the contractor.)

Who’s money are we spending? $250,000 plus $300,000. See how quickly it starts to add up? Anyone else having a problem with this?

READ MORE: Contract awarded for $5 million traffic circle, construction to begin soon

So let’s talk about something that might grab the attention of city hall, city council and taxpayers.

In Revelstoke we are blessed with a phenomenal group of doctors. Anyone can get a family doctor. Anyone needing care can be attended to fairly quickly. You might even say we are “over doctored”, nice problem to have.

However, anyone requiring specialized imagery, such as a CAT scan or an MRI, has to go out of town. The nearest CAT scan is in Salmon Arm. It’s 115 kms west of here. On dry pavement it’s one hour and fifteen minutes driving time. If it’s midnight in a blinding snowstorm, it’s more than two hours at best, if the highway is open.

What if your loved one is a stroke victim? Does two or three hours cut it? What if a CAT scan doesn’t cut it, and you need an MRI? Well now you’re going on to Vernon, or Kelowna or Kamloops. Might it be already too late? Anyone think maybe Revelstoke and the Queen Victoria Hospital should have those amenities?

Here’s the thing. We beckon for the world to come to Revelstoke. We seem to want to be a Mecca for adrenaline and high performance pursuits. It’s all very alluring and exciting. But don’t get seriously hurt or sick while you’re here, because there’s little we can do for you. You’re best bet might be a helicopter ride to somewhere else.

If you’re a resident in Revelstoke, and your health concerns outgrow the capacity of the Queen Victoria Hospital to care for you, you may have to consider moving to Vernon or Kelowna, just to be close enough to the care you need. Hands in the air for those of you that have had your world turned upside down because the care for your loved one doesn’t exist in Revelstoke? Or hands in the air if you are of a certain age, and because of your medical history, you’ve had to move, or know you have to move?

So with medical care, you might suggest that the province or the federal government is responsible. Does anyone reading this really believe that Ottawa or Victoria is tuned into what Revelstoke needs? Does anyone believe that a six year plan for $3.8 M could put a dent in some of our medical facility shortfalls. Perhaps the province and the feds would match our funds. Now all of sudden we’ve got $10 M. The City of Revelstoke is a significant stakeholder in the continued welfare of it’s citizens and of it’s visitors. Maybe it could be a trailblazer in this very important concern.

(Editor’s note: There are restrictions on what RMI funds can be used for. According to the province projects have to result in: increased resort activities and amenities, increased visitation and visitor activity, increased private investment, increased employment in the community, increased tourism contribution to the local economy, increased municipal tax revenue and/or diversification of municipal tax base and revenue.)

Getting back to city hall, city council, and the apparent disregard for the public purse. Wayfinding is a fancy name for street signs. That’s all. Say it out loud, “We’re going to spend $3.2 M on new street signs”. It’s interesting to note that when the initial $3.8 M tab was announced, no one in the room batted an eye. One councillor did wonder if the new signs were gold plated.

If much needed medical equipment and technicians are too daunting a reality for those on the money levers, maybe just some common sense, some fiscal prudence, simple respect for the public purse is what’s needed. As an example, former Mayor Dave Raven used in part, RMI funds to construct a sidewalk along Nichol Rd., between Airport Way and Park Drive, so that elementary aged school children didn’t have to share space on a roadway with resort visitors excited about a snow day. Wow, a safe place for your kids to walk to school, with RMI funds. Another sidewalk will be needed along Nichol to hook up the stretch between Hay Rd. and Park Drive. RMI funds anybody?

We need a city hall and council to be laser beamed focus on what is really important in this little mountain town. COVID-19 is going to bring a ton of new challenges we don’t even know about. There are lots of underfunded issues that should be miles above a yellow brick road and gold plated street signs. Get real. This is Revelstoke, not Whistler or Banff. Isn’t it ironic that the focus of the new wayfinding signs, is REVELSTOKE. It’s an homage to the old railway station, our railway heritage. It’s a real town, with real hardworking people. Give us some respect. And sorry councillor, I’m staying on that horse until you and your colleagues can demonstrate the public purse demands and deserves respect. Period.

Brian Tobin




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Revelstoke wayfinding plan signs, approved at a Feb. 11, 2020 council meeting.

Revelstoke wayfinding plan signs, approved at a Feb. 11, 2020 council meeting.

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