EZ Rock’s Mayor’s Report for March 17: Scott Duke must decide whether to resign

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The ball is in Councillor Scott Duke’s court as he considers whether he should resign over the public perception that he is caught in a conflict of interest over his business, Revelstoke Vacation Rentals, and his responsibility as a City Councillor.

Mayor Mark McKee made that clear during in this week’s EZ Rock Mayor’s Report on 101.6 FM. He said he has discussed the issue with Council as a whole and with Duke as an individual. It’s now up to Duke to make a decision.

McKee and program host Shaun Aquiline also discussed the budget. Council is considering a 5% tax increase for the City’s budget, but it will be a while before that is carved in stone.

He also talks about the way this brutal winter has made inroads into the snow-removal budget and the toll it has taken on the city’s road surfaces, which are pocked with pot holes.

Mayor McKee, Shaun Aquiline and EZ Rock’s student reporters welcome questions from all members of the pubic about local issues. However, comments and questions about the City and issues of public interest should also be sent directly to Council. Click on one — or all — of the Council members below to send them an e-mail about a public issue:

EZ Rock and The Revelstoke Current are collaborating by posting the radio station’s Mayor’s Report on The Current.

This is one way that local media can work together to ensure that the people of Revelstoke have access to all the information they need to remain fully informed about City Council, our municipal government and events of interest to Revelstokians.

If you have any questions about the City or local issues and events that concern you, post them on The Current and Shaun Aquiline from EZ Rock will ask your question for you and Mayor McKee will answer it on next Friday’s Mayor Report. You can also click here to send your questions directly to Shaun by e-mail.

Please activate the audio player below to listen to EZ Rock’s Mayor’s Report from Friday, March 17, featuring Mayor Mark McKee:


Comments

85 Responses to “EZ Rock’s Mayor’s Report for March 17: Scott Duke must decide whether to resign”
  1. Xassandra del Arboles says:

    will the new DCC rates following the analysis of liquid waste management be retroactive to any developers who have been quoted lower rates?

    Hard to hear all the questions Shaun read so fast – any chance of a hard copy and credit to author?

    • Xassandra del Arboles says:

      second listen just as hard as the first – hope no chance referendum will precede liquid waste management study!

      no one mentioned fire and ambulance services for “treehouse” that now seems to have sprouted to 200 pods plus up to 4 hotels – read the letters that are on top in the Treehouse Comments folder on the city website – am hoping the mayor’s closing comments in audio portion One Jan 27 about ensuring new development fits in with ongoing plans mean the OCP land use categories are being looked at carefully and the resort-downtown vision will continue and NOT extend into the “treehouse” acreage or the Catherwood properties in the ALR.

      My wish for today is that there was a map on the city website that shows the current boundary including all the annexations! will copy this comment and send it in to the show hoping for clarifications

  2. Ms. Anne Throap says:

    MacKenzie Station. One more kick at the can.

    Forget the complaints about it being too expensive for the infrastructure. Sewer, water and roads are pricey no matter what. So that makes most of it user pay through cost development charges and tax payment loans for those who live there. Just like everybody else.

    Will it supply much needed affordable housing? If agreements are strong with the developer, maybe it will?

    Will it become a ghetto. It’s a possibility. More likely a mix of affordable and market priced housing but would you buy into a market where the house on one side keeps prices down and the other side might let them float on the open market? Hmmmm, bunch of uncertainty there.

    More infrastructure; bigger sewage treatment plant, another reservoir, more roads. Growing municipalities have to do that anyway. No big whoop.

    But there iS one area where council got it all incorrect. Once more with feeling, MCKENZIE STATION IS IN THE WRONG DAMN PLACE. High density housing right in the middle of single family housing ?????? If I lived near there I’d be selling, QUICKLY.
    Simply across Nichol Rd. on the Jake and Jay acreage would have been better.
    Why bother having zoning laws.
    Water under the bridge now…and…we’ll soon have to build a new bridge or another one soon, over the Illecillll (whatever, never could spell it) River.

    Infrastructure money from the Feds ? Liberals say the loot that’s supposed to be coming is for large cities. Sure would like a definition of large before starting anty major infrastructure projects. Like we got the money before we started the roundabout….riiiiiiiigt.

  3. rem says:

    Re SCF cost. The other paper reported the cost at 6 grand a year give or take a dollar or two. City check summary said other wise. It was just shy of 9 grand as the other paper neglected to include US dollars in their report.
    Three cheers to simplifying the status quo zoning bylaw. Simply amazing!!

  4. rem says:

    Having just listened to todays report in reference to housing I have one question. Mayor McKee you are the head of Council number three in a row that continues to talk about the need for secondary housing when are you going to lead this Council to actually do something about it? Forget staff leading the venture they have only succeded in creating an over priced beauracratic process designed to milk every cent possible from Revelstokians. As a long term Revelstokian I like many sit back and watch waiting for a streamined sensible process to evolve. Many would like to provide reasonable priced secondary accomadation. You don’t have to look very far afield to see good results. Contact the Mayor of Victoria Lias Helps she gets it as does her Council. Councils have chased hotels motels ski hills and on and on. How about focusing on the most important and vulnerable people…. The STAFF needed to make it all happen!! The possibilities are endless these endevours could provide seniors with a little extra income , perhaps an arrangement to assist with looking after the property , winter live in caretakers to keep the insurance world happy for those who like to winter elsewhere. Small sized suites with a packaged fee not the endless list that now exists.

    • rem says:

      Sorry hit submit before I was finished. Carriage houses belong in certain areas. This whole uproar over vacation rentals REALLY? How about the same level of focus on the people who want to LIVE here. This isn’t rocket science. This needs to be lead and designed by the elected people who have a vested interest in this town. This is why you where all elected.

  5. Nick says:

    I suspect the only way to get gas prices reduced is to put up a large billboard telling westbound traffic entering Revelstoke that ‘Gas is 10 cents/litre cheaper 50 km ahead’.

  6. Ms. Anne Throap says:

    Good caution RiverSpirit. But this is a tougher one than the two sided issue over the Hwy. mall.
    Council has to remember it represents ALL Revelstokians, not just those who live near Hay and Nichol rds.
    Would this development be good for all taxpayers?
    Will it devalue larger homes on larger lots?
    How would you feel if it was beside your home?
    Could there be even more dark window homes?
    Will a new Illecile (never could spell it) bridge be built? Hell, we need a new one now!
    Will the spectre of a second bridge rear it’s head? Hell again, we need bridge #2 to corect a wrong decades ago when the hospital was located in a place with only one road to it for most of Revelstoke.
    Do we know for sure it will provide lots of affordable housing, which is the area that needs help?
    Will council slow down a bit and do it’s dew dilegance this time?

  7. RiverSpirit says:

    first time i’ve ventured to Comment before listening but I see this topic is on the broadcast and will listen asap – here’s a link to read and sign change.org petition if you want to …
    https://www.change.org/p/council-revelstoke-ca-support-arrow-heights-residents-who-want-to-preserve-community-character?

  8. Ms. Anne Throap says:

    Is something rotten in Denmark/Revelstoke? Did council not vote to delay it’s own budget so the Chamber of Commerce could make more comments after the deadline for comments had passed? Was that decision not made by 5 Councillors and the Mayor who own or manage businesses? Was there a meeting of 2 of more councillors about this situation without it being registered as an official council meeting? If so, would the Local Government act not be interested ? Optics not good on this one.

  9. RiverSpirit says:

    I sure hope the actual start time will be well publicized – expecting people to be out by 6pm to ask questions suggests to me that questions and comments are not actually wanted – Life in the Fast Lane seems to be the new Revy motto

  10. rem says:

    The upgrading of the Big Eddy water system is definitely a step forward. Having listened to the Mayors report it appears there is an exact per metre cost for the residents to base their decision on . I leave Big Eddy residents with a question that they should be asking. If the cost excedes the per metre number who pays the difference? I maybe wrong but I think it will bounce over to the utility rate structure. The apparent 385.00 per year cost could change significantly. City Halls estimating record in the last decade has been less than steller. Again I maybe wrong but I would never leave a blank check at City Hall , when you find out the answer then you will KNOW all the rules of the game.

    • RiverSpirit says:

      What is the world coming to? I agree with you rem!

      Perhaps a sign of the sun-starved Solstice season’s ability to spruce up even the prickliest cynic – what if, indeed!!

  11. Steve Bender says:

    OK Dusty,

    One last time with feeling?

    Can I asume you are making these statements out of the experience of actually being involved in the operation of a city? If you are I would like to know which city.

    When a person of upper management is let go it almost always follows you have have to buy out their contract which does mean extra expense beyond their yearly salary. In this case there was more than a year remaining on his contract.
    When a person is de-hired it’s done as soon as possible for, as you can imagine, many reasons. (Some are even handed the letter, then escorted out of the building at the same ) but you still have to payout the rest of their contract or get sued.

    As for the rate of pay, I really don’t have time to go into how it is commensurate with their responsibilities, education and training.

    How be you take a 25% “haircut”.

    Signing off.

  12. Dusty says:

    rem says:

    People of Revelstoke have a right to accountability by the decisions made by Council and senior staff.
    “the courthouse oops at close to $200,000”.

    The court house roof was originally estimated to cost $200,000 it has almost doubled to $375,000 for a polymer membrane applied to the dome it has a life expectancy of about 20 years. A copper metal dome would last 80 years, and have cost less than the $375,000

    Way to go councillor Bender

  13. Dusty says:

    You say :- In fact our CAO position has paid slightly less than many.

    Quote:- “It cost the City of Revelstoke more than $200,000 to have former Chief Administrative Officer Tim Palmer retire early. Palmer said he’s retiring happily and willingly and the move is not being forced”.

    I do not understand if he retired why did the city give him a $200,000 golden handshake just to go down the road to Sicamous to work as their CAO and milk another small town purse for the same amount, seems a bit rich to me. If the $200,000 of our tax money was to buy out his contract why didn’t the City keep him on until his contract had expired, He could have been kept busy doing any number of janitorial jobs, at least we would have gotten something useful out of him, as it was by giving him a golden parachute we got nothing usefull out of him.

    Eighteen City hall employees earned more than $75,000 last year, when you factor in benefits, perks, and pensions the 18 are all earning over $100,000 for a 35 hour work week compared to a 40 hour work week in the private sector. City hall staff could all take a 25% haircut and still be ahead of what any the private sector pays for similar work.

    It is not a field of dreams build it and they will come scenario

  14. Steve Bender says:

    Oh, dear Dusty,
    I given you a “A” for clever semantics.

    Saying most of the staff at city hall get paid more than $100,000. Is so wrong it’s laughable.
    You must be referring to the yearly report that is published which reveals mostly what the executive core make.
    Let’s not forget all the office people, secretaries and city workers who would like to make more than that.
    And while we’re at it, let’s not forget the influence of union wage agreements.
    All province wide comparisons done in the last 7 years have all shown that we are right in line with the provincial average. In fact our CAO position has paid slightly less than many.

  15. Steve Bender says:

    Well, REM, We’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

    Taxpayers are more than share holders, they are owners and, unlike a company, must all be treated as equally as possible. That,s the entire point.

    In a perfect world, all the wastefull things you talk about wouldn’t happen but they do. Nobody initiates them to be wasteful, to start with. Look at the money and time that has already been wasted over a golf course deal and a mall attempt.

    Would we make decisions on the profitability of the arts, Communitee Connections, the Rec. centre, the arena, our city busses, the swimming pool, and all the services the city provides ? You would find no private business like audit could justify any of them.

    A city is FOR business, not a business in itself.

    We’ll just have to remain two stubborn guys with different philosophies.

    May all your suggestions for Revelstoke’s future be wise and helpful.

    SJB

  16. Dusty says:

    Please tell me what color is the sky in Benderville You say the “Government’s mandate is to provide the greatest good for the greatest number”

    The only growing enterprise in Revelstoke that is 100% recession proof and pays the highest overall wages is City Hall, most of the city staff earn over $100,000 “sorry wrong should say receive” City Hall is a prime example of an out of control Empire Building organization.

    As the population decreases the taxation has to increase for the remaining few if you are to maintain services, especially if the top heavy City hall staffing costs continue to skyrocket, this methodology of increasing the taxes is not sustainable. The staffing levels, salaries and benefits should be linked to the population number. I can think of no business in Revelstoke which reward their employees with large salary raises as their revenue and customer base declines.

    The very thought of an extra $500,000 in taxes got City Hall salivating, This expectation of a windfall just served to feed City halls staff craving addiction to our money. In all likelihood they already had this extra revenue earmarked to be squandered for City staff wage increases and more and lavish upgrades to City Hall.

    Marie Antoinette who it is widely attributed to have said “Let them eat cake.”. lost her head due to the arrogance of not listening to the citizens.

    The city should be run like a household not like a business.
    We have more to fear from City Hall than Hall Pacific.
    It is a race to the bottom. Tax and spend.
    Can the last person out please switch the lights off !

  17. Steve Bender says:

    REM

    Bob! Do you really want your city run by a system that puts the greatest good for a few as it’s philosophy.
    Government’s mandate is to provide the greatest good for the greatest number, to get a feel for consensus before a project gets to the short strokes of completing it, or is that too democratic for you? Yes it can be time consuming but that’s the mandate of a free government.
    Budgets depleted ? When has not been the case over a fiscal period? They should be, provided they were used to supply the services the city needs. That’s why a new budget is struck every year. And yes there will be increases just to keep up with inflation, kinda like what a business does, only the private sector does it quicker because it is not controlled by as much legislation as government and it doesn’t require a lengthy approval process where consensus is gathered befor approval. You of all people know that.

    • rem says:

      Steve you missed the point entirely. The City should be run like a business the people of Revelstoke are its share holders. They have a right to accountability by the decisions made by Council and senior staff. There never seems to be any being taken to task for decisions brought to Council. Yes Council has the final say as it should be but who bares the cost , the taxpayer. Without delving to far back in time the UDB a boat anchor that sits on a shelf an addmitted cost of 650,000 , the courthouse oops at close to 200,000 after assuming ownership of the RMR infrastructure the additional 100,000 or more to fix something our overpriced consultant says was “FINE” . The list goes on but the point is where is the accountability? In business this is not tolerated someone is sent packing , in government it is hoped that no one noticed or it will go away quietly. There are a lot of folks who are getting really tired of this mindset. The depleted reserves are a result of poor decisions the next budget does not magically make it all go away. The issues that caused them still remain . Business learned long ago fix the cause the issue goes away..

  18. Steve Bender says:

    I just heard the Mayor say; the more we run the city like a business the better off we’ll be.

    W R O N G !

    A city should not be run like a business. It should be run like an efficient seat of local government.

    A private business is basically a dictatorship run by one person or a small board of partners with the single goal of making them money. The employees and their neighbours don’t get a vote on it’s operation.

    A City’s job is to collect taxes so they can be spent fairly on infrastructure so all it’s businesses, social services, amenities anb attractions can have a good foundation on which to operate and thrive.

    Municipal taxes are set to try and provide a level playing field for EVERYBODY.

    A business’s goal is to amass profits. A city’s business is to spend profits (taxes) for the services the entire electorate needs and want.

    A city’s business is to supply the best possible infrastructure for everybody including business, then get out of the way.

    Would we have attained the result we just did over the highway mall, if council was running things as a business?

    Don’t let anybody take away your right to equal treatment.

  19. RiverSpirit says:

    “Those developers are gone” – everyone who is surprised, please raise your hands LOL

  20. RiverSpirit says:

    I’m gob-smacked that such a partisan position is espoused by an elected official just before a major vote. Why was there no discussion of the legality of not complying with the Official Community Plan??

    • Hans Mohr says:

      OK did I hear that correctly? Our mayor says that this is not a Walmart type of development, but since the tenants of the proposed mall are unknown as far as I have heard, how does he know this? Can we be 100% certain that the grocery store will not be a Walmart Neighbourhood Market, or is there more information out there that we don’t know about?

  21. RevCur069 says:

    Why aren’t we looking at what Revelstoke really needs, vs what a lot of people want? Affordable HOUSING! As well as more hotel rooms for stranded or tired motorists. People who shop out of town will continue to do so whether or not a strip mall is built.

  22. Steve Bender says:

    River Spirit, top marks for research. You pointed out, again, how much hard scientific evidence there is to question putting a mall on the highway. Thank you.

  23. RiverSpirit says:

    Gabe you did it again – summed it all up in a reasonable way – but a couple of nits to pick – only 3 votes needed to pass Third Reading since a group of only five – and I’d like to think that those five will put their personal preferences aside and act befitting their offices as trustees of the public good.

    Anyway – a nifty resource someone posted on the StokeList. On the website – all the category titles are live links to literature.

    “https://ilsr.org/key-studies-why-local-matters/ Last update: Oct. 29, 2015
    Below are summaries and links to key studies that examine the impact of large retail chains and the benefits of locally owned businesses. For ease of use, we’ve organized these studies into the following categories, although they do not all fit neatly into just one category.
    (In addition to these studies, see the book Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Independent Businesses for a look at the far-reaching impacts of large retail chains and the advantages that accrue to communities that opt for locally owned, independent businesses instead.)
    • Economic Impact of Local Businesses vs. Chains Studies have found that locally owned stores generate much greater benefits for the local economy than national chains do.
    • Retail Employment Studies conclude that the arrival of a big-box store decreases the number of retail jobs in a region.
    • Wages & Benefits Studies have found that big-box retailers, particularly Walmart, are depressing wages and benefits for retail employees, and that median incomes have risen faster in places with more small businesses compared to those dominated by big businesses.
    • Existing Businesses These studies look at how the arrival of a large chain impacts local retailers and other nearby businesses.
    • Poverty Rates Counties that have gained Walmart stores have fared worse in terms of family poverty rates, according to this study.
    • Social and Civic Well-Being These studies find that a community’s level of social capital and well-being is positively related to the share of its local economy held by local businesses, while Walmart’s presence undermines social capital and civic participation.
    • City Costs These studies find that the cost of providing big-box stores with city services — road maintenance, police, fire, etc. — can exceed the local tax revenue generated by these stores, resulting in a net loss to taxpayers.
    • State Costs These reports examine the high cost to state and federal taxpayers of providing public assistance, such as Medicaid and food stamps, to the millions of chain retail and restaurant employees who do not earn enough to make ends meet.
    • Subsidies These studies document the massive public subsidies that have financed the expansion of big-box stores and how this subsidized development has failed to produce real economic benefits for communities.
    • Consumers & Prices These studies find that chains are not always a bargain.
    • Traffic This study examines the traffic impact of supercenters.
    • Charitable Contributions Small businesses donate about twice as much per employee to charitable organizations as large businesses, according to this study.
    1. ECONOMIC IMPACT OF LOCAL BUSINESSES VS. CHAINS The following studies have found that locally owned stores generate much greater benefits for the local economy than national chains do.
    Independent BC: Small Business and the British Columbia Economy — by Civic Economics, February 2013

  24. Gabe Taylor says:

    Steven, great tact in how you handled the discriminatory comments. There are many who agree that you are the type of person (and business) that we want in our (yours plural and my) Revelstoke house… someone who cares about the greater good and is willing to stand up for that. Whether you were born here or moved here recently, a thoughtful resident is a valuable resident. At any rate, this is not a debate about who gets to have a say, because we can all probably agree that a place that denies freedom of speech, is a place that none of us want to live.

    I really do want to spend my life (and money) here in our Revelstoke filled with vibrancy, charm and character, alive in the core and with values that go beyond the perceived dollar. Let’s not follow the North American herd and dull the lustre of this community on the brink. Let’s aggressively seek out sensible development that fits the municipality and fulfills the needs of everyone, rather than just some.

    To this day, after reading both sides of this story and hearing the mayor speak, I still do not accept most of the pro zoning change arguments for reasons that have been covered over and over. What’s worse is realizing that the mayor already has his position, regardless of the information being brought forward by experts and the public, not to mention the massive public outcry. It is a helpless feeling that the public view appears to have become just a paper trail. This decision, which either way will ultimately result in a large portion of the residents being disappointed, seems to now rest in the hands of 4 people who had also already made up their minds. It is scary and unfortunate that the biggest decision Revelstoke has faced in a great number of years will be decided by the personal thoughts and values of a few, albeit voted in and respected, folks that probably would not categorize themselves as experts in this arena (correct me if I’m wrong and no disrespect intended). There is a lot at stake here, and If we will not solicit and heed to the advice of experts, public vote is seeming more and more appealing. Though it will not have the outcome all of us would like, at least it could serve to satiate our desire for fairness.

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