New plan proposed for City of Revelstoke’s Oscar Street property

Plan proposes mix of single-family, multi-family homes; raises possibility of staff housing, and leaves options for future.

A new plan for the City of Revelstoke’s Oscar Street property proposes dividing it into five areas.

A new plan has been devised for the future of the City of Revelstoke’s Oscar Street property that could see it be developed into a mix of single-family and multi-family homes, and even used for staff housing.

The five hectare property, commonly known as the Bridge Creek property, is owned by the city and parts of it have already been used for the ambulance station, and the Revelstoke Community Housing Society’s duplex and townhome developments.

“The (Chief Administrative Officer) requested that development services undertake a review of the potential land use for the subject property in the context of highest and best use, land inventories, growth and potential future needs,” wrote Dean Strachan, the manager of development services, in a report to council.

The plan, which was set to go to council this Tuesday, Dec. 20, after press time, divides the property into five areas.

Area A is a smaller lot on Oscar Street next to the existing affordable housing townhomes that would be the site of another duplex. Area B is behind the existing affordable housing complex and would consist of 19-24 units of multi-family residential homes such as apartments, row housing, four-plexes or small single-family homes. Area C is off Edward Street and could accommodate four single-family homes.

Area D, the largest area at 3.8 hectares, would be set aside for future development, but could be the site of up to 200 residential units.

“It is recommended that this area be retained for future consideration by council in light of potential needs for the community not determinable or certain today,” wrote Strachan. “Potential uses for this site may be recreation facilities, service commercial/light industrial uses, high tech industrial uses, or commercial uses. The size, location and access to infrastructure offers an opportunity for council to hold this significant land parcel in reserve for future use, potentially housing, employment, economic diversity, commercial/light industrial, public institution or recreation facility opportunities.”

Area E is located along the southern edge of the property and would be the site of a multi-use trail connecting Oscar Street to the industrial park.

The report says a mix of market and non-market housing should be developed on the site, and that there should be a variety of rental housing, as well as those that could be purchased. Area C could be used for staff housing, the report says.

“A potential model could be a single-family dwelling with nine smaller bedrooms, three bathrooms and an enlarged kitchen,” says Strachan. “This is similar to a format used for university housing, but in a single-family dwelling format versus the more common multi-family format.”

The report envisions a scenario where multiple businesses partner together and enter into a housing agreement with the city. The agreement would allow the businesses to build staff housing on city land, and they would recover their investment over 15 years by collecting rent. “After that time the building would revert to city ownership, the city could then lease it for continued use as employee housing or depending on needs of the community at that time look to other housing types such as seniors housing,” wrote Strachan, adding many complexities would have to be dealt with.

In an interview, Strachan said this was an idea he came up with after talking to the housing society as well as several local businesses looking at employee housing. He didn’t know of any communities where it has been used, but it would be cheaper to build this way than to build a large apartment building for staff.

“You can do it on public land as long as there’s an agreement in place with the city and the city has a net benefit as result,” he said.

The report recommends an infrastructure plan is developed for Areas A, B and C so that the costs of servicing are known and so that the lands can be made ready for use quickly when funding opportunities or community needs arise.

Strachan also advises against concentrating all affordable housing in one place, and spreading it around the community.

While he sees areas A, B, and C being developed in the near future, he doesn’t see Area D being needed for housing for 15-20 years.

“Area D is a unique opportunity for the city to have in reserve a versatile and valuable parcel that could be utilized to pursue emergent opportunities such as a significant employment or servicing development for the community,” Strachan wrote. “Or it could be an opportunity to accommodate a high tech industrial development. The lands also present an opportunity for future recreation facility consideration if the need presented itself in the future.”

This isn’t the first time a plan has come forward for the Bridge Creek property. In 2009, the Revelstoke Community Housing Society put forward a plan to develop affordable housing on the site but it fell apart when the economy collapsed. Instead, the housing society built a duplex that opened in October 2008.

In 2012, Fraser Blyth of Selkirk Planning & Design crafted a site plan for the housing society that included a mix of single and multi-family homes. It also failed to move forward.

“It’s not that the plans were bad, they were planned in a different time,” Strachan said. “At that point, they were projecting we’d be at 20,000 people.

“This is just a re-visit of that land-use principal based on what we’re seeing for current numbers. Even with the up-spike that we’re seeing recently, we have a long time before we’re going to need that housing inventory land.”

Council was set to discuss Strachan’s report on Tuesday, Dec. 20, after press time. Check the Review website for a story on that discussion.