Revelstoke council has put its support behind an application for the development of a boutique treehouse hotel.
In doing so, council and developer David Evans, have opened the doors to Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR)to come to the table with its own development plans.
Evans is seeking to have his Camozzi Road property, recently annexed from the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, rezoned from its CSRD designation of rural residential to a comprehensive development zone “for a mix of hotel and other accommodation units.” He’s also seeking an official community plan amendment to accommodate the same.
To get there, however, council first had to approve Evans’ application. Approval did not come easily, however, with Mayor Mark McKee being particularly vocal in his support for RMR, and his inability to support Evans’ application and the increased scope of development proposed for the 18-acre property, which may include a 75-unit hotel in addition to the 25 treehouse units.
“When I was first approached about the idea of a tree hotel and the annexation of the property, I was very supportive of it. I still am supportive of the tree hotel,” said McKee. “I have concerns about other phases of the development… I would rather that we were approving one section of this property as a tree hotel. When I was first approached about it, it was a 60 unit – I think even going as high as 100 unit is acceptable, but other development of three or four hotels that could possibly be in here, I have big concerns about.”
McKee proceeded to elaborate on his long-standing commitment to RMR and its success, stating he is still a “pro-development” mayor, but could only support the application if it just focused on the tree hotel.
To stress the positive impact the resort has had on the community, McKee later noted how the majority of the people in the filled council chambers are in Revelstoke because of the resort.
“I’m not saying that development moving forward on here is not going to be important, because it will be. It’s just a matter of when and showing support for RMR,” said McKee.
Coun. Linda Nixon didn’t deny the significance of RMR, but suggested the mayor put on his “solve-it cap” and, without bias, support discussion between Evans and RMR, which has referred the neighbouring treehouse proposal as a “parasitic development.”
Coun. Connie Brothers concurred with Nixon, suggesting it was RMR’s turn to come to the table.
“Frankly, I would like to hear from RMR as to what their five-year plan is or something like that…,” said Brothers. “Here’s an opportunity where we’ve got something on the table… can we hear a response from RMR as to what they’re proposing and how it dovetails or doesn’t dovetail with Mr. Evans plan, and then we can go from there.”
Evans’ application includes the registration of a “no-build, no disturb covenant” for 75 per cent of the property (excluding phase one – the proposed treehouse units), to be released after five years from the date of registration or two years if RMR does not complete and submit to the B.C. government an update to their resort master plan.
City engineering and development services director Mike Thomas explained the province has been expecting a master plan update from RMR since at least 2012.
“I totally understand from RMR’s perspective a lot has changed since 2008. Plans are very difficult to put together,” said Thomas. “But I think… this is somewhat of an olive branch from the developer that he’s willing to put… the bulk of his development on hold waiting for these plans to be done.
“If they’re not done in what the developer considers to be a reasonable time frame, than that covenant would be lifted. I just want to remind council, this is the developer’s application, it’s not council’s application… as council goes for first and second readings, you can make modifications to this application as council sees fit to make it work for the community.”
Council supported all elements of Evans’ application, with McKee opposed.