Q&A: We asked Revelstoke city council and mayoral candidates about the arts and environment

In the final round of the Mountaineer's Q&A series, we asked candidates to share their opinions on the environment and arts and culture in Revelstoke.

In this Q&A with candidates for city council and mayor, we asked about the environment and arts and culture in Revelstoke. Photo: Wildsight

The Revelstoke Mountaineer’s question and answer series with city council candidates cover a wide variety of issues that are likely to be central to the upcoming municipal election on Oct. 15, 2022. The series features verbatim answers written by the candidates themselves. The questions were created by the Mountaineer’s multimedia community reporter, Nora Hughes. (This round features input from Wildsight Revelstoke and Arts Revelstoke).

In the fourth and final round of the Mountaineer’s question and answer series with city council and mayoral candidates, we asked candidates’ opinions on environmental policy and support for arts and culture in Revelstoke.

We asked candidates to answer the following: 

  1. If you are elected to city council, how will you prepare Revelstoke for the worsening effects of climate change? Do you support an immediate plan to transition the City of Revelstoke to a net zero city? Why or why not?
  2. “The economic and livability benefits of arts and cultural development have led to an understanding that cultural amenities and delivery are no longer a ‘nice to have’ or a ‘frill’ in local government. For every dollar spent on Arts and Culture funding, the Revelstoke community receives an estimated four times that in economic payback,” says Arts Revelstoke. How would you, as a city councillor, better support arts and culture in Revelstoke?

Here are the responses from the candidates who got back to us prior to our publication deadline:

Lee Devlin (candidate for council)

Lee Devlin is running for a Revelstoke city council. Photo: Lee Devlin

1. Climate change is a massive and growing issue in our community, and in fact in any community so richly surrounded by natural areas. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say we’ve all noticed the worsening fire seasons (2022 was a bit of a relief comparatively) but 2021 saw massive devastation very nearby. We should all be concerned and focused on preventing natural disasters causing significant damage to our city and surrounding areas.

I would absolutely support a movement towards net-zero, though I recognize the logistic and economic challenges we would face doing so. There are simple things we can do as a city, such as a more robust system for public and non-motozied transit and incentives for people to rely less on gasoline-powered vehicles day to day. Funding to assist citizens in weather-proofing their homes and demands that all new developments be up to a higher standard of weather resistance to rely less on heating during the winter would also help, as well as lower overall cost of living for our people. Winters are expensive here, as we all know.

2. I have said since the beginning that finding methods for tourism to better support our City was the overall focus of my campaign, and I think that ties very well into supporting and building on the Arts and Culture side of Revelstoke. Our culture and history as a town are undeniably linked and a focus on arts and culture ensures we will not lose who we are as a city.

One of the ideas I’d like to see is a city run tourism-based bus or shuttle that would link culturally significant places such as the Railway and Forestry museums, the Revelstoke Dam, and any number of other historically significant places in and around town. This would not only help to drive tourism onwards and upwards, but also generate revenue both for the city and the various museums and stewards of our history.

I’d also like to see the Multicultural Society revived, with better support and funding from the City. We need to focus not just on the history of early Settlers, but the Indigenous People that came before us and all the various cultures that helped form the Revelstoke we know and love today.

Gary Sulz (candidate for mayor)

Gary Sulz is running for Mayor of Revelstoke. Photo: Gary Sulz
  1. We will need to hire or contract a Climate Change Coordinator to assist with the effects of climate change on Revelstoke. Professional guidance will be the only way we can get to where we are affective in dealing with this world-wide issue. Putting a plan in place to get to Net Zero is important and necessary but it must be done with a balance approach. There will be a financial component to getting to where we need to go so it must be done in a way that is affordable and actually doable. We are already working to that end but switching equipment from gas powered to electric within public works.
  2. Arts and Culture in Revelstoke is what brings the community together. Culture is about who we are and why visitors love to come to our community. Supporting this facet of Revelstoke means being open to festivals and art events in addition to making sure that those involved in the arts have a place in Revelstoke. We have a very talented group of artists here in Revelstoke and assisting where we can whether through uses of parks or other facilities or supporting through grants is vital to keeping our community knit together.

John Hordyk (candidate for council)

John Hordyk is running for a seat on Revelstoke city councol. Photo: John Hordyk

1. Climate change resiliency is one of the two main planks of my campaign. After seeing horrific fires like the ones in Fort McMurray and Lytton, we need all new projects and development to be resistant to the increasingly changing weather patterns. Revelstoke may be on the path to replacing The Forum. If we do, we need to make sure it is a place of refuge for heat and smoke for those without A/C at home.

I would not immediately require the city to become a net zero community. Much of the equipment owned by the city has much of its life left in it. A huge contribution to a piece of equipment’s carbon footprint is from when it was made. Replacing vehicles with lots of life left in them would increase our carbon footprint. As carbon-neutral industrial vehicles come to market, we should certainly be a leader in purchasing equipment like this. However, some equipment is so infrequently used that purchasing an electric version of it, would take valuable raw materials for batteries from uses used much more frequently. One example is the sewage lift stations protecting the rivers from sewage overflows during power outages. I was excited to see that School District 19 purchased an electric bus, and how the return on investment of that bus is remarkably short. Any time that environmental and financial stewardship go hand in hand, I would call that low-hanging fruit which should be picked as quickly as possible.

4 years ago, there were reports of a possible crypto-coin mining operation in Revelstoke using electricity from the dam. I would absolutely be against a project, however, if corporations view Revelstoke as a place with excess power, we should explore options of co/2 to hydrocarbon projects. They have an example in Squamish. Here we would take electricity and co/2 from the air to make a very low hydrocarbon product ready for traditional internal combustion engines. Revelstoke may be a perfect place to encourage a project like this.

2. I absolutely would continue to support events like Luna. If someone suggested to me that a city the size of Revelstoke could have an outdoor concert every single night of the summer, I would have at thought that it was an extremely ambitious proposal. However, the arts community has proven to be more than capable to take on such large proposals.

One of the upcoming decisions council and the community will have to decide on the future of The Forum. I 100% believe that we need to maintain a large arena with seating for large crowds. I could see Revelstoke being the destination for large concerts, conventions, or other events in a multi-use facility like this.

Tim Stapenhurst (candidate for council)

Tim Stapenhurst is running for a seat on Revelstoke city council. Photo: Tim Stapenhurst
  1. The effects of climate change are being seen worldwide and we need to act locally to do our part. We have some plans in place that we need to implement, such as bicycle lanes in our master transportation plan but there is still lots more we can do. We can start with phasing out the use of gas powered machine and replacing those with rechargeable battery powered options instead. We can look at implementing a better composting program. We can also partner with local organizations such as POW (protect our winters) and work collectively to reduce our impact. When discussing climate change, I think it is also important to view the context as a threat to public safety and that is where my background could be beneficial to the citizens of Revelstoke. I’ve worked/ responded to natural disasters in the past such as snow storms, flooding, extreme heat, and hurricanes. You can never be too prepared to respond to catastrophic events and my past experience/ education would definitely be a benefit. I’ve obtained certification at various levels of National Incident Management training (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS). As councillor, I would be happy to draw upon my previous training to make sure that Revelstoke remains a safe and environmentally friendly community.
  2. As a family in Revelstoke, we love the Arts in this community. The benefit of such programs is evident. We are so fortunate to have music in Grizzly Plaza during the summer, locally produced musicals and plays, the art in the Alleys and Lunafest, and block parties hosted by Big Eddy Glass works. I personally would like to see the Arts grow and I am excited to see what the new artistic and executive director will bring to our community. I think our arts is something that makes us stand out from other communities and I will continue to work with Arts Revelstoke and other stakeholder to ensure that these programs continue to grow and develop. How? By ensuring that we support them in whatever ways possible, by ensuring that we have open and clear lines of communication, and that we working together to make sure that Revelstoke remains as one of the best communities in BC.

Austin Luciow (candidate for council)

Austin Luciow is running for a seat on Revelstoke city council. Photo: Austin Luciow

1. As the effects of climate change grow we are faced with needing to address this quickly to prepare for worsening climate disasters which can leave our community isolated, and changing how we tackle our long term development of our town. We need to have a Disaster Action Plan that is organized by the city that can be implemented proactively to protect the safety and security of our residents. This plan must work with community partners but the responsibility to organize and initiate this response must be controlled by the city.

We must work towards Net Zero emissions in Revelstoke without carbon offsets before the date of 2050 laid out in the OCP. This will come with looking at the long term affects of our decisions and how our development can put environmental sustainability at the forefront of our decision-making process. This will need to be supported by the community at large as it will come with changes from the normal way of doing things so we can preserve the natural beauty we are blessed to live in. We can start to reduce our carbon footprint now by diverting food waste, commuting by bike, and buying local food.

2. Our Arts and Culture scene is paramount to the community we have built here and we need to continue to support the arts in any way that we can. The city should look to find more funding to grow our REVY. Live Outside, Luna Arts Festival, Flying Arrows Productions, as well as attracting performers from outside Revelstoke to the Performing Arts Studio. The city should work with the Indigenous Friendship Society on the designation of land and building canvases to showcase the skills of First Nations Artists who’s land we occupy, to allow for the permanent display of their artistic skills.

The talent of artist here in town is immense and we should create an online platform for them to showcase their talents. We should work collaboratively with surrounding towns to allow these artists an easier way to promote themselves and have access to other art festivals within the BC. We should look into the funding of the musical arts to allow the youth in town the opportunity to learn a new talent and introduce them to the artist community at large. This is being done by individuals in the community, but should be better supported by the city.

Tim Palmer (candidate for council)

Tim Palmer is running for a seat on Revelstoke city council. Photo: Tim Palmer

1. As an incumbent, I want more action on climate change initiatives. For example, continuing to allow food waste into the landfill is unacceptable. There is an easy win for the incoming council to fully implement organics reuse program. The reward will be reduced costs, elimination of residential waste bear attractants, and production of a high-grade soil that our expanding gardening community wants.

The Revelstoke transit system fails to meet the transportation needs of residents, waste tax dollars (subsidized at $40 per round trip) and burns thousands of litres of carbon fuels for virtually empty buses. I will take action to change how we provide transit services in Revelstoke.

I continue to relentless promoted better multi-use pathways and thereby encourage alternate, non-carbon sourced transportation.

Other changes I support include reducing municipal waste, prohibiting bottled water in city facilities, review the Community Forest purpose and practices, overhaul of the city fleet to reduce or eliminate the dependence on carbon fuels, and a review of the Revelstoke Energy Corporation mandate and practices to ensure it meets climate action priorities.

I support forming a net-zero focus to ensure all the above initiatives meet our goal of net zero.

2. It is important for Revelstoke council, as policy decision makers, to recognize and support the Arts and Culture champions who have the expertise, energy and drive to implement, improve and expand community arts and culture programs.

Revelstoke’s arts and culture is amongst the most supported and funded in British Columbia; that needs to continue. And we can do better. For example, the city’s failed process in providing support for Grizzley Plaza Improvements to reflects overall public sentiment not only created community discord but wasted your tax dollars. I am confident that the new council will address these failures by improving committee structures and communication protocols.

Council should support but not micro-manage the arts and culture progress and growth. Thank you to the many individuals that are the reason that Revelstoke’s Arts and Culture is flourishing today. We are very blessed to be the beneficiaries of such talent that supports residents and support better overall visitor experiences in Revelstoke.

Nicole Cherlet (candidate for mayor)

Nicole Cherlet is in the running for mayor of Revelstoke. Photo: Nicole Cherlet

1. Absolutely. Climate change is upon us, and both mitigation and adaptation are necessary. The recent Revelstoke Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) outlines some big moves that the city can make, and also calls for a more detailed climate action plan as a next step. This document was part of the Official Community Plan work recently completed under our current Council, but was not widely circulated nor discussed at length, likely due to staffing changes and other priorities. You can find it on the Long range planning section of the Development Services page on the City Website.

If elected, I will be encouraging the Council to make Climate Justice one of our strategic priorities and incorporate it as a lens to all of our reports. Climate change initiatives can drive up the cost of building, and Council needs to do our due diligence to balance those impacts with appropriate support for affordability.

We don’t have time to delay, which is why I put my name forward for Mayor now rather than wait. I want to bring my skills and experience to help our community negotiate through difficult topics, find common ground and build support for this necessary work.

2. As the City Council representative to the Arts Community since 2018, I’ve made it a habit to report back during Council meetings when minutes are presented on the agenda. There is more to a discussion than what is shown in meeting minutes, and it’s important to bring those reflections back to the team.

If elected as Mayor, I would be working with the new Council to help them decide the circles of representation each will take on during their term. I will be coaching them through how to represent the City in those meetings, and how to bring ideas and requests back to Council for consideration.

Reconciliation is an action oriented process, and the Mayor and Council should be working as a team to build stronger relationships. Our Official Community Plan calls for continuing to support community-based service groups, streamline processes for holding public events, and to develop a cultural plan to guide our efforts. By doing that work through the aid of digital tools, we can open up transparency and be better partners in building awareness and capacity in our community.

Aaron Orlando (candidate for council)

Aaron Orlando is running for a seat on Revelstoke city council. Photo: Aaron Orlando

1. Full-spectrum action on climate change adaptation and mitigation is one point on my 10-point platform, which you can read at www.aaronorlando.ca.

Revelstoke’s municipal government can do many things to catch up with leading municipalities in its efforts to prepare for the impacts of climate change, which we are already experiencing with fatal heat domes, wildfires and smoke air pollution, historic flooding events, and infrastructure damage, to name a few.

There are dozens of initiatives the city could be undertaking, targeting net-zero emissions being just one of them.

The city’s Environmental Advisory Committee has met only six times since the beginning of 2021 and its agendas are sparse; the city’s climate change coordinator position is not currently staffed.

If elected, my focus will be on revitalizing community participation and driving practical results. That includes funding specific projects such as active transportation networks, waste-related GHG reductions, and effectively positioning Revelstoke to attract provincial and federal climate change investment that brings jobs and delivers results.

Revelstoke’s most successful and sustainable environmental initiatives have been collaborative ones that harness the passion, commitment and vision of residents.

My focus will be on facing climate change challenges together through improved communication and engagement.

2. I’ve been a supporter of arts and culture in Revelstoke since I arrived here in 2008. I’ve attended hundreds of arts events and written as many stories about the visual, performing and mountain culture arts scenes. I’ve taken time to preview events for the public and partnered on many festivals, exhibitions and performance events. It’s amazing how much the sector has grown – a real Revelstoke success story.

Along the way, I’ve got to know the leaders of the arts community and have done my part to share their stories with the community, such as in the most recent issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine, which was our Arts Annual issue, featuring cover-to-cover Revelstoke arts scene coverage. I am the editor of the magazine.

I’m a big supporter of the arts and I will continue to work with Revelstoke’s dynamic arts leaders, both in the social and private sector. The organized arts scene brings in significant provincial grants that goes to support local arts, and I am committed to supporting and growing the sector.

I am scheduled to attend the Arts Revelstoke board meeting on Oct. 19 to get started. My name is Aaron Orlando and I appreciate your support on election day this Saturday, Oct. 15.

Matt Cherry (candidate for council)

Matt Cherry is running for a seat on Revelstoke city council. Photo: Matt Cherry

1. I’m happy you’ve asked this question as it’s become apparent that this is a huge issue. One of my key platform points is Climate Change Adaptation and with this awareness I have decided to campaign entirely online versus adding more waste to our beautiful town with single use campaign signs, many of which are made with plastics.

Communities across British Columbia are at risk or recovering from natural hazards and climate related disasters that can damage important infrastructure, cause serious economic losses, and create social disruption.

When elected I plan to follow best practices outlined by UBMC (Union of BC Municipalities) Disaster Risk Reduction and look at funding opportunities within the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF). I also plan to follow the recommendations outlined by FCM (Federations of Canadian municipalities) National Adaptation Strategy. There are ways to prepare our community for climate resiliency without our tax base fronting all the cost. We need to look into various funding opportunities within the Green Municipal Fund which helps local governments switch to sustainable practices faster. GMF is a $1.6 billion program funded by the Government of Canada and would greatly help the potential tax burden of implementation, while also fast tracking success.

2. Part of what makes our community so amazing is the wonderful full time and rotating art installations, events such as Luna Fest (this year being the largest and most successful), Revelstoke Visual Art Center, the live music every night downtown in the summers and so much more.

Firstly, I must state that this is something that is outside my background. As such, I would have to consult with industry and community leaders in an effort to find out what type of support they need to thrive. As I see this as a very valuable and vibrant part of what makes Revelstoke great and would certainly look into how we can make the greatest impact on the art and culture sector to continue growth. We have no shortage of talented artists in our community, and I would like to continue to showcase their unique talents.

If needed, I would support more funding opportunities whether that be through local, provincial or federal grants as well as dedicated long term financial support from the City of Revelstoke.

I encourage you to check out my website and my Facebook Candidate page for updates and to get information on my campaign. https://mattcherry.ca/ https://www.facebook.com/MattCherryRevelstoke

Rushda Rubaia (candidate for council)

Rushda Rubaia is running for a seat on Revelstoke city council. Photo Rushda Rubaia
  1. I think we can incorporate strict littering fees. So people stop littering around town and pollute our natural resources. Also, making this town more bikable hence adding public bikes for local transit isa great start. And like I mentioned at the All-Candidates Forum, we should consult with all the wonderful local experts in town and find the best most efficient way to face this problem as a community. An immediate plan is possible but I beleive that climate change is not the only problem in this town. There are housing issues. I think we should work from there. Problems should be solved in a priority-basis. If people can’t afford to live in town then there’s no use of a council. So I beleive that we should work on problems one at a time. Instead of trying to solve everything at once.
  2. I absolutely 100% support Arts and Culture. Luna fest is a great example of the success in the community. I grew up in a very cultural upbringing.  Went to a renowned music school and was in the choir at the University of Calgary. Arts and Culture brings not only economic benefits to a community, but also mental health benefits. As someone dealing with PTSD, I cannot put enough emphasis on arts and culture’s role on a community’s mental health. We would be robots without arts and culture. I worked for this year’s Luna Sound and Luna Arts events. It was a huge success. I will continue to do so and welcome more diverse artists in town. We also have some amazing local artists who don’t have much exposure yet. I know some of them personally as well. I plan to get all of our musicians, bands, artists, theatres, directors and everyone in the Arts field possible to come together and create more events like the Luna Fest. Festivities always bring a community together. I have had vision of starting a multicultural society since I’ve moved here. I see there’s a lack of opportunities to communicate between different cultures here. I want to create a platform to make that happen.

Gary (Eddie) Shultz (candidate for council)

Gary E Shultz is a running for Revelstoke city council. Photo: Gary Shultz
  1. If elected to city council, climate change will continue to be a basis of any decision I participate in. It is an integral topic in the balance of juggling our main issues of environment, affordability, growth and community. It’s ingrained in my values to do my part in reducing our carbon footprint. I believe that efforts to reduce emissions and incentives local residents to pitch in, are critical to improving the status quo.
    A net zero Revelstoke is a great idea, in principal. After all, we are an example for other city centers – we should do our best to continue to eliminate single use plastics and improve the garbage, recycling and composting programs. I am hesitant though, in a haste transition to net zero as affordability is a big issue for our municipality and net zero would be expensive. I believe that environmentally, we have the advantage of being surrounded by forests, and large hydro electric infrastructure, which drastically offset our negative impacts on the environment. Net zero will come at a great cost to tax payers and local residents.
    I would suggest that climate change is better fought at the provincial and federal level. Solutions in nuclear and hydrogen science would have bigger, faster impacts on fighting climate change.
    If as a majority, the residents of Revelstoke were determined to move towards net zero, I would support it while also strongly advocating for solutions that were mindful of the budget. Net zero is much easier said than done and I wish to support the individuals in our community first.
  2. When I think of community, I think of the hundreds that gathered for Mamma Mia, Luna, or Blue Heron. There is no doubt that events such as these bring a great portion of the town together, to celebrate. These events bring life to the town and opportunity to small businesses as tourists join the town in celebrating as well. I don’t have any suggestions as to what the arts and culture sector of Revelstoke needs but I will continue to participate and would do my best to support the continued growth and celebration of these events.

The last opportunity for advance voting is tomorrow, Wednesday, October 12, 2022, from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Revelstoke Community Centre. General voting day is this Saturday, October 15, 2022. The City of Revelstoke will hold the General Local Election for Mayor, 6 Councillors and 5 School District No. 19 Trustees from 8 am to 8 pm. More voter information can be found here.

Any questions regarding the Revelstoke Mountaineer’s Q&A series can be directed to community reporter, Nora Hughes: nora@revelstokemountaineer.com.

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Nora Hughes is a recent graduate of the Thompson Rivers University Interdisciplinary Program, where she combined her passions for Adventure Tourism, Communications and Journalism. With a strong interest in community news, Nora is passionate about giving a voice and face to the people of Revelstoke through storytelling.