Revelstoke council candidates focus on need for better communication during forum

Collaborative solutions, improved sense of team at city hall key to tackling big issues, say nominees.

Revelstoke mayoral and council candidates at the Oct. 2 all-candidates' forum hosted by the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce. From left: moderator Cindy Pearce, mayoral candidate Gary Sulz, mayor candidate Darcy Wyonzek, council candidate Cody Younker, council candidate Mike Brooks-Hill, council candidate Tim Palmer, council candidate Rob Elliott, council candidate Steven Cross, council candidate Steve Kent, council candidate Nicole Cherlet, council candidate Tony Morabito, council candidate Jackie Rhind and council candidate Peter Humphreys. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

A need for improved communication and collaboration with city staff and the community at large. That was the theme echoed by all of the nominees during the All Candidates Forum hosted by the Revelstoke Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday evening.

The Oct. 2 forum itself lacked in the usual political excitement so commonly found at the municipal level. In many instances candidates spoke about their desire to begin working on items such as the official community plan, development cost charge bylaws, infrastructure needs and affordability issues, but lent little in the way of how they saw these items progressing towards action. That isn’t to say the candidates don’t have ideas, they were after all limited to 60 seconds to respond to each question, leaving little time for detailed answers.

The audience was at about 275 people at the 6 p.m. start time, and that swelled to over 300, but after a recess at 8 p.m., the number plunged to about 100 at the less-than-gripping forum.

Coming on the heels of the current council and the issues plaguing the city isn’t an easy task, nor is actually coming up with attainable solutions. Forum moderator Cindy Pearce addressed the difficulties facing the candidates during her opening remarks.

“Finding fault is easy. Championing real solutions is what we look to you for,” said Pearce.

Watch the Oct. 2 All Candidates forum here:

Perhaps the lack of excitement stemmed from the candidates common-thread desire to see the community engaged in a more collaborative approach towards problem solving issues at the municipal level. Championing on a platform of communication and collaboration means waiting until you’re able to provide ample opportunity for input prior to moving forward. It’s a risky move though, as it means candidates are leaving what could be seen as a gap in terms of how they see solutions to some of the city’s biggest problems.

During the forum candidates were posed with a total of eight questions. Seven of those were based on submissions received from the public, while one was added during the forum. Only two of the questions addressed social issues in the community. One of those questions addressed Revelstoke’s growing affordability issues. Most of the candidates chose to focus on the need for more affordable housing and a need to curtail illegal rental housing as a solution, although a few did address the deeper issues of affordability including the negative social impacts of being poor.

Overall the candidates expressed a desire to begin working together on solutions, often noting that no matter who gets voted in the community is likely to have a council that wants to present itself as a team. And while there was little in the way of action items it was clear the candidates are willing to take on the big projects left over from the current council with a mind-set to begin tackling some of the biggest issues from the get-go.

Some highlights

-It was the first public campaign appearance for very low profile mayoral candidate Darcy Wyonzek, who described herself as originally from Saskatchewan, moving to Revelstoke in recent years after visiting here en route to the coast. Her first speeches and answers won’t be enough to bridge the large gap between herself and frontrunner Gary Sulz.

-While all candidates agreed affordable housing was an issue that needed council attention, their proposed solutions were all across the board, with some proposed solutions (cutting DCCs) running counter to others (increasing DCCs). It seems like the next council will have their work cut out to prioritize their housing affordability options.

Mayor and council candidates: Your thoughts on what you learned from the forum? Please comment below.

The municipal election takes place on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018.