Revelstoke thinks BIG: Smart Cities Challenge encourages communities to use innovation and technology to solve issues

Economic development, housing, food security, infrastructure and transportation identified as Revelstoke’s most challenging problems to solve.

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Cindy Pierce speaks to participants at the Smart Cities Challenge world cafe event on March 12, 2018. Photo: Melissa Jameson/Revelstoke Mountaineer.

The City of Revelstoke is participating in the Smart Cities Challenge. The national competition encourages communities to get creative about how innovation and technology can help solve long-term community challenges.

Revelstoke’s small town, big mountain life-style has continued to attract people to the community over the past decade, but it hasn’t been without difficulty. Chat to anyone who has lived here for a year or two and you’re sure to hear about one of Revelstoke’s big four challenges: housing, food security, economic development and infrastructure and transportation. How to solve those problems using innovation and technology was the topic of discussion during a community world cafe held on Tuesday, March 13 at the Revelstoke Community Centre.

The world cafe led to engaging discussions not only about the challenges Revelstoke faces, but also around possible technology based solutions. Here are some highlights from Tuesday night’s discussion:

Economic Development

The issues:

-It’s difficult to attract and retain new employees and the lack of housing issues impacts this.

-Lack of educational training opportunities in Revelstoke means youth and other skilled workers, particularly trades, often leave.

-Lack of available data about current and future job opportunities and availability in Revelstoke.

Possible solutions:

-Create a database of skilled workers in the community.

-Use of makerspace/fabrication labs.

-Create online training for youth and others with a homegrown apprenticeship program to keep people in Revelstoke.

Karilyn Kempton led a discussion on technology-based solutions to help solve Revelstoke’s on-going housing issues. Photo: Melissa Jameson/Revelstoke Mountaineer.

Food Security

The issues:

-Lack of organic waste diversion and composting options.

-Lack of local food production and short local growing season.

-High cost of food.

-Lack of knowledge about providing food (farming, preserving, etc.) and ability to share that knowledge.

Possible solutions:

-Create online networking and distribution options.

-Reduce food waste.

-Create an app that looks at cooperative production for food.

-Create an app that connects available land to those who want to farm.

Participants in the Smart Cities Challenge event write down possible technology-based solutions for the issues identified in each of the four topics. Photo: Melissa Jameson/Revelstoke Mountaineer.

Housing

Problems:

-High cost of construction and lack of builders along with a lack of diversity in the type of housing available.

-Foreign ownership and seasonal population/vacation rentals creating issues for long-term residents to secure housing.

-Outdated and confusing zoning bylaws that don’t allow for modern options.

Possible solutions:

-Look at wood waste innovation including wood (waste) insulation.

-Create an online forum to stay up to date on bylaws and enable more voices into the conversation.

Nicole Fricot, director of economic development discusses technology-based solutions to help solve problems identified in Revelstoke’s economic development sectors. Photo: Melissa Jameson/Revelstoke Mountaineer.

Infrastructure and Transportation

The issues:

-Concerns about highway safety

-Concern over a lack of local enforcement on local road safety, including cyclists.

-Lack of public transportation options, particularly for individuals who work past 5 p.m.

Possible solutions:

-Self-driving vehicles.

-Lit bike trails.

-Create an Uber-style care share service.

Participants in the world cafe had a chance to vote on what they felt was the biggest challenge. City of Revelstoke director of economic development Nicole Fricot will use the votes to help select which one of the four identified challenges and solutions will be submitted to the Smart Cities Challenge.

Finalists and winners of the competition will be selected by an independent jury.

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Melissa Jameson
Melissa Jameson is the civic affairs reporter for the Revelstoke Mountaineer. She handles the newsy side of goings on about Revelstoke. Got a news tip? Feel free to contact Melissa at melissa@revelstokemountaineer.com