A diagnostic report intended to provide baseline data to help inform future land-use decisions in South Revelstoke is causing concern among residents.
The South Revelstoke Diagnostic Inventory Preliminary Report, which was completed on Sept. 20, 2017, was presented to residents at an open house at the Revelstoke Community Centre Wednesday night.
More than 100 people – mostly from the study area – attended the event where the report’s authors: Urban Systems’ John Dumbrell, James Klukas and Marina Jozipovic presented their findings in a slideshow.
Klukas began the 40-minute presentation by emphasizing what the study is not.
“It’s not a recommendation for or against boundary extension,” he said. “Our role in this is really to be objective and provide baseline information on things like land use, service delivery, finance, governance and so on.”
Attendees heard that the area in question, which extends from near Williamson Lake along Airport Road and is sandwiched between Revelstoke Mountain Resort land and the Columbia River, measures 2.3 square kilometres and has about 300 residents. There is no community water or sewer infrastructure and more than half of the study area is Agricultural Land Reserve.
The South Revelstoke Study Area currently falls under the jurisdiction of the Columbia Schuswap Regional District.
In the last decade, a number of property owners adjacent to the City of Revelstoke have requested annexation.
In the mid-2000s, the boundary was extended to include the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
In 2015, the eventual treehouse hotel property was annexed, although the CSRD did not recommend it move forward at the time.
In the referral, CSRD planner Jan Thingsted wrote “an incremental approach of individual property annexation by the City of Revelstoke is not supported in the OCP, therefore, staff does not support this proposed Municipal Boundary Extension.”
In 2016, 23 properties in the Thomas Brook area were also annexed to allow the community an opportunity to access city water services.
Two Catherwood Road properties requested annexation in 2015, but were ultimately denied earlier this year after a referendum failed to get approval from the province.
Peter Fassbender, then Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development wrote a letter to city council regarding the Catherwood properties in which he said he had approved a study looking at the inventory of planning, service delivery and governance in the South Revelstoke area.
“It is my understanding that, once this study is complete, the City and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District will be in a better position to assess the broader implications of governance change in the lands south of Revelstoke,” he wrote. “Through the study’s proposed public engagement process, the City and Regional District will also be afforded the opportunity to hear the wide range of community perspectives in an open and transparent process.”
The diagnostic report was commissioned jointly by the CSRD and the City of Revelstoke. The province is covering half of the cost, while CSRD and the city split the remainder.
The diagnostic inventory is intended to “collect background information and community perspectives on governance, land use, and service delivery in the South Revelstoke Study Area,” said a handout at the open house. Part of the report includes a survey, which is available online for residents of the study area and Revelstoke.
Its results will be included in the final report, which is expected to be complete at the end of October.
In a phone interview Thursday, Thingsted stressed that there is currently no request at this time for annexation of the study area.
He said there seemed to be concern from attendees that an annexation was immediately being considered.
“We’re not proposing annexation at all,” he said.
Residents were vocal in their opposition to annexation in South Revelstoke during a 1.5-hour-long question period following the presentation.
They expressed concern for what the cost of services would be. They wondered how long it would take for those services to be provided. They queried the City of Revelstoke’s plan for affordable housing and future developments.
There could be a number of outcomes after the report is presented to CSRD board members and to Revelstoke city council in the coming months.
“It may be that… it’s determined that we don’t need to proceed,” said Thingsted.
It could be recommended that the whole area be put forward for annexation, or a proposal that lands somewhere in the middle. But, if anything moves forward, then a more formal process will take place, including gathering more information from affected stakeholders.
The survey closes on Oct. 10.