Councillor Exit Interview Question #2
Whether you agree with their politics or not, existing Council worked hard for four years to do what they believed was best for Revelstoke. So I wanted to ask –
What are you most proud of during your time on council?
I am proud of the fact that the members of this Council have worked very hard, for long hours and collaboratively, to accomplish, with staff, a great deal, many things which are not readily noticeable to the public. I can point to the Big Eddy Water, the Thomas Brook issue, a complete overhaul of the budget system, development of an asset management strategy, the current and proposed roundabouts, the current and proposed hotel developments, to name just a few. The City is growing quickly, much has been learned in the last four years which will bode well for the future, but there is still much to do and many growth challenges facing us.
In general terms there is not one specific decision that makes me proud. My pride comes in the ability to serve our community at a higher level.
If I had to boil it down to one concrete issue, I would say getting the Big Eddy water works completed. It was probably the biggest infrastructure issue we completed and we did that, in part by obtaining a significant federal grant that enabled us to do it. The waterworks were more than a huge infrastructure issue; it was a public health and a development issue. Interior health would not allow the city to issue building permits because of fire and safety, which in turn meant the school districts subdivision was held up. It was a corner that Revelstoke was backed into and we managed to find a solution.
Another thing I am proud of is that we shifted to a fifteen year financial planning process. That was not a table top process, that required every department to go through and look at their long term needs and do concrete budgeting processes to understand that. There was so much in that process that is going to make a concrete difference as it makes a shift towards more roads maintenance and planning.
Finally we’ve managed to reduce the debt over our term consistently. People have this concept we are sinking further into debt and that is not the case. We had prudent financial management over the term and managed to reduce debt. It’s a difficult thing to achieve on a tight budget. With the long term financial planning it will put us in a much better state.
In an effort to be an advocate for their concerns and to acknowledge their importance in our community, we have worked hard to build a better working relationship between the municipality and our three most important employers; CPR, forest industries and Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
We have changed our financial planning to reflect a longer term. For instance we are now looking forward fifteen years rather than the one or five years as had been done previously. We are managing our assets according to life cycle planning. These assets are roads, water, sewer, buildings and bridges. The plan is to maintain and extend the life of the asset and then plan for eventual replacement.
A significant accomplishment was bringing improvements and upgrades to the serious deficiencies in the Big Eddy water system. The Big Eddy residents were informed that their support was needed by voting for these upgrades and that they would have to cover the costs involved for their area. The city secured a $3.8 million Provincial and Federal Infrastructure grant. As a result of these efforts by both the Big Eddy residents and the city, they will have improvements in fire protection and clean water from a delivery system that is compliant with regulations. These are critical to the health and security of the families that live there.
There were frustrations with traffic movement near Victoria Road, the underpass, the restaurants on the highway and Highway #1 itself. Multiple problems needed to be addressed in this area. The main portal into Revelstoke was hampered by a narrow entry under the track, business traffic, multiple feeder roads, traffic crossing to get to other restaurants across the road, lanes merging on and off the highway and the two lane highway bridge nearby being plugged. Traffic was backing up and preventing cars from crossing over to Columbia Park or onto the highway, sometimes for hours due to accidents, closures and bad weather conditions. Motorists were confused, and accidents were common. A roundabout has been installed and has significantly reduced these problems and allowed traffic to flow in and out of the downtown, onto the highway or into highway services. This also allows people to get home to Columbia Park. The roundabout provides the traffic flow required for convenient access to these important thoroughfares. Now that this project is finished, we are making preparations for another roundabout at the intersection of 4th Street East, Victoria Road and the Eastern Access to be built in 2019. As with the existing roundabout, this Eastern access roundabout will be convenient, move traffic safely and prevent confusion and accidents.
I feel proud to have represented Revelstoke in a positive light during meetings with other Mayors, the Regional District Board, Provincial Ministers, the Premier, the Prime Minister, at the Union of BC Municipalities. I have made sure that I energetically represented Revelstoke as an attractive, vibrant and progressive community. I have given many presentations on the great things we have going on here. Other councils have made a point of telling me that they envy our accomplishments.