In the last two weeks, senior staff at our city have broken trust with citizens in serious ways that all of Revelstoke should be concerned about.
The first breach of trust was choosing not to include letters of concern by citizens on the Council agenda. The second breach of trust was asking Council to leapfrog the critically important OCP update process in favor of fast tracking a development needing zoning changes. Both breaches show a total disregard for what those who live here actually want their communities to be. This is shameful if not downright unethical.
On the letters they initially said the rules did not allow them, but when pressed by Councillor Younker, it was admitted that it was a choice and not a rule – they said that choice was based on what citizens think not being important at first reading. However, the Director of Planning had earlier told Council that first reading was the best time to ask for any changes. So how is Council supposed to make intelligent decisions when citizen voices are excluded by staff? City Hall is supposed to be working for us not against us.
The second breach of trust was asking Council to leapfrog their own approved process for OCP update. Our city staff should be the champions for what our town stands for and what our residents want. Instead they are willing to run over that to help a development get approved that will deliver little and which few, if any, want. They do this instead of focusing on real engagement with citizens. This is a massive breach of the public trust in crafting the most important planning document we have.
The Hay Road proposed development will disturb lifestyle, increase traffic congestion, and impinge the safety of kids. It will compound all the massive impacts of Mackenzie Village, and its 1,200 or so units of housing being built in the same area. Meanwhile, residents continue to suffer from there being no comprehensive plan for trails, sidewalks, and roads to deal with all this volume. There is no plan for the Illecillewaet Bridge and Airport Way either – things that will impact all of Revelstoke. Similar concerns continue to remain unaddressed across Revelstoke. Why are citizen concerns being treated so badly? Why is our senior city staff in such a rush to get Revelstoke to march to the tune of a developer who knowingly bought land not zoned for what they want to do? Did you know that our City staff are not even insisting on the full 5% park area for this development?
It is time to speak up for Citizens being heard, of engagement actually meaning something, of city hall working for us rather than against us. It is time to say no to all zoning changes until a proper consultative process – with real engagement and vetting – can be completed. It is time to say we want caring and empathetic processes to replace the shoddy processes currently being used. It is time to stand up for values!
-Steven Cross, Revelstoke