Meet the mayor of Revelstoke

Empowerment and service are the cornerstones of Gary Sulz’s leadership style

On October 20, 2018, Gary Sulz was elected to the office of mayor in Revelstoke, B.C.

On October 20, 2018, Gary Sulz was elected to the office of mayor in Revelstoke, B.C. — Photo courtesy Gary Sulz

Gary Sulz, the new mayor of Revelstoke, has learned some valuable skills during his almost-40-year career as a funeral director.

“I have the ability to keep calm in a storm,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about patience and compassion in this work. It’s helped me understand people’s concerns and put them into perspective.”

We asked Sulz a few questions about his background and his hopes for his term in the mayor’s office. Here is a recap of our conversation.

Are you a long-time resident of Revelstoke?

I was born and raised in Medicine Hat, Alberta, and came here in about 1990. My wife was born and raised here, as was her mother. I used to operate the funeral homes in Revelstoke and Golden, but since I got on city council in 2014, I slowed down a bit and only look after Revelstoke.

What was your first job?

My very first paid job was in a butcher shop, and then I worked in construction for a short while. I got into my present line of work when I was 22. It’s an unusual career with amazing rewards as well as heartbreaks.

What clinched your decision to run for mayor?

I had all kinds of people coming to me, saying they have an intrinsic trust in me because of the work I do, and they believed I’d make a good mayor. That support helped me to decide to go ahead. Also, this is a community that my wife grew up in, and her mom grew up in, and it’s an important part of my life. Giving back to the community is something I’ve always wished to do.

Please describe your leadership style.

Empowering. My job is not about me or what I want—it’s about empowering others to do their jobs and serve the community to the best of their ability. When I can do that, I’m on the right track.

How would you describe Revelstoke’s “personality”?

It’s adventurous in all kinds of ways, and it’s also stable. This community was a blue-collar, CPR-mining-forestry town with well-paid, stable jobs, and it’s grown to include many jobs in tourism and the adventure of the high-adrenalin sports like skiing, snowmobiling, mountain biking and hiking.

Many of our residents have lived here for a long time, and there’s value in that stability, in generations of families who stay here. It brings to the forefront our values of family and commitment to the whole.

What is the priority for this council?

We need to look at housing. We’ve had fast growth recently, and we need more places for people to live. Because we’re a tourism-driven community, housing costs are through the roof and rental accommodation is in short supply.

Gary Sulz, the mayor of Revelstoke, is suited up and ready to take his motorcycle on the road. — Photo courtesy Gary Sulz

Our affordable housing group is putting forth a plan for 25 housing units, which will help a little bit. We’re hoping there will also be a movement by employers to provide staff housing for seasonal workers. The City has just hired a new director of planning, Marianne Wade, and we’re looking for an additional building inspector. Capacity building within our staff is important.

Other areas of focus:

  • Highway safety for our residents and people travelling through Revelstoke. Because of my work, this is especially significant.
  • Updating our OCP, which is an ongoing, living document.
  • Vacation rentals, which are an issue because visitors do not consider the needs of the community.
  • Streamlining the processes for acquisition of building permits. Back in 2008 there was some attrition within the departments. We didn’t fill those positions, so we were not prepared for the growth that followed.

“This is an exciting time for Revelstoke,” Sulz said. “We’re seeing growth and strength here, and I’m proud to be part of that ride going forward.”

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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