I usually avoid opinion columns but last week, I had a column in mind about a few things — the Jacobson Ford sign issue and the Revelstoke Board of Education’s response to the teachers.
Unfortunately, I ran out of time and space, and so the column sat half-finished on my computer. Here it is, along with a few more idle thoughts.
On Jacobson and signs
Council made a bad decision on the Jacobson Ford sign issue. They really should have sought out a solution that involved working with the business to accept their sign before going down the enforcement route. Carrot before the stick and all that.
This council has a problem — real and perceived – that it’s unfriendly to business. Signs are a big part of that because they’re something seemingly basic, but always so problematic. Sign regulations are important otherwise you could end up with a chaotic, ugly disaster. You don’t want a streetscape of random signs, each shouting louder than the next for people’s attention.
Still, there should be some flexibility. One of the reasons Jacobson is being asked to take down its sign is because signs with changeable lettering aren’t allowed. Why? I’m not sure. It should really be more a question of aesthetic and on that council — and I — agree that the sign Jacobson put up looks good and fits in with their building.
I get the fear of setting a precedent, but the real push should be to make sure people have nice signs, not only ones that fit withing the confines of the bylaw.
There’s also the problem that they built it on city property without permission, but that’s easy to resolve. Charge them rent for the space and that’s that.
If you can’t come to an agreement, then make them take it down.
A limp response
The Revelstoke Board of Education’s response to Revelstoke teachers at their last meeting was not much. It took an hour of pressure for one of them to really speak up and express an opinion, but the resolution they came up with and the letter they wrote was weak.
Compare it to a letter sent out by the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school board. They called for more funding for education to offset cost pressures school board’s face, yet have no control over, like negotiated wage increases and energy price hikes.
“… we cannot pay as much attention to students as we have done in the past,” they wrote. “Fine arts and physical education programs are inconsistent in our elementary schools given the lack of resources to hire specialists in these areas. We cannot move ahead with new schools in developing areas as quickly as we should …”
The Arrow Lakes school board penned a letter saying they “will continue to advocate for increased stable funding for our education system.”
The Kootenay Lake school board wrote, “Increased funding for districts and classrooms, in particular, is a priority for our board. Funding levels have not been adequate to support the needs of our students.”
The letter from the Revelstoke school board was two sentences. One said they were concerned about the state of bargaining and the impact on students, staff and the community. The other asked them to get back to the negotiating table. There was no mention of the big problem — that funding from the province doesn’t keep up with the cost pressures on the school boards.
The board has done an admirable job making Revelstoke the envy of many of their peers but they should be more vocal in speaking out about the pressures they face.
Thoughts on TrailStoke
And on a less serious note, I was completely blown away by the abilities of the people who took part in the TrailStoke race. The pace at which the lead runners went (and even the ones near the back of the pack) was incredible. You could also tell they loved it, even though parts of the course could be deemed cruel and unusual punishment.
I took the race as a chance to get up on Revelstoke Mountain Resort in the summer and see what’s up there. I was hoping to find that long-lost section of single track, but alas, what I found was a short, gruelling section of trail that I wouldn’t want to take a bike on. Still, it is beautiful terrain up there, and hopefully feedback from the race will convince Northland that it’s better to open up the alpine sooner rather than later.
We’ve got fantastic alpine around here — a lot of which is very accessible — but a gondola that can whisk you into the alpine in 15 minute, that’s pretty rare.