For those of you who are not aware, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) is carrying out a diagnostic survey of South Revelstoke. This area stretches from Williamson Lake on Airport Way to the ski hill in the east and south to the Cartier trailhead.
The purpose of this survey is supposed to give the CSRD an “objective baseline” to consider any future annexation into the City of Revelstoke from the CSRD. However, from the tone of the study that is not how it is written and it appears to support a case of status quo and not to allow future expansion of the city limits.
In the facts sheet they state: “These lands have good quality soil for farming” and make a case for competing uses including ‘Local food production and the study area contains land with good quality soils”. These claims are not true, the lands shown have not ever supported agricultural production. The lands that were previously used for agricultural purposes were flooded by BC Hydro a long-time ago.
Development of these lands or really the lands marked in green on the facts sheet map which are in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) are essential to the future growth of Revelstoke.
The area in question covers 2.3 square kilometres and is made up of 110 parcels with 300 residents. But when you break it down further, it really comprises of some key areas that are in the ALR. The significance of this is that the ALR lands are the only lands already not subdivided into parcel sizes that would support future growth and development that are close to the city and the ski hill.
These can be split into two main areas: one near Williamson Lake, which is probably about 60 acres but a reasonable portion of this is probably below the flood plain and the area that extends from the ski hill boundary to the east and from the city boundary to the north out to Airport Way on the west and south. This area – once you exclude all the parcels of two acres or less – accounts for approximately 160 acres of usable land for future development, ranging from 10 to 40-acre parcels with no or very little existing construction on them and being made up of less than a dozen owners in total.
So what is all the fuss about why don’t we just leave it as it is:
• The City of Revelstoke is facing a huge housing crisis and we need more homes.
• Mackenzie Village will NOT satisfy all future demand for more homes we have today or in the next 10 to 20 years alone.
• The ski hill is already zoned to build 16,000 beds. Yes they have to build some employee accommodation but that is minimal and will cater to mainly seasonal staff, leaving the vast majority looking for places to live.
• So what’s the big thing abut 16,000 beds, well if we assume 3.5* accommodation and above (which we will need to drive a good destination resort) then those beds will create 5-6,000 jobs alone. Some of those jobs will be seasonal but the vast majority will be permanent meaning more homes required for families working at the resort, in the hotels, bars, restaurants and retail all associated with the resort. This is not including the additional teachers, RCMP officers, RCU agents, realtors, hairdressers, physiotherapists, bank staff, etc., etc., etc required to service the 6,000 new individuals and families the resort beds will create, probably another 1-2,000 once all said and done.
• So if the City of Revelstoke is to achieve its goal of ever having a world-class ski resort and creating a sustainable town so we can upgrade the sewage plant, have a new hockey arena, fix our roads, pay for our pool, maintain our fire service and invest in the future of Revelstoke, we need this land from the CSRD to go into the city so that “WE” the people of Revelstoke can decide what we want to see and how our town is going to grow and not the CSRD.
• What happens if we do nothing, well what will probably happen is those 10 to 12 parcels of land will get sold and someone from Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto or elsewhere will build their dream vacation home and that lands potential, the only potential growth area we have will be lost forever.
• Taxes. If you live in the CSRD don’t be fooled by the you’re paying lower taxes. Your taxes are distributed based on the value of all the homes in Area B, that’s less than 500 in total with probably about 100-150 of those in South Revelstoke and the rest in rural locations. What does that mean to your taxes if you live in South Revelstoke? Well it means that as your property price goes up faster than all the others in Area B due to your proximity to the Ski Hill your going to pay a larger and larger share of the Area B tax bill. Now if those same 100-150 homes move into the City of Revelstoke any price increases in your home are going to be same as those in the City on a relative basis so you are not going to be paying higher and higher taxes just because of where you live.
• Expanding the boundary and developing the South Bench as well as providing much-needed future growth opportunities is also going to lessen the tax burden on the city residents as the pool of people paying in is going to grow, so rather than the same few thousand people having to pay a higher and higher city tax bill each year, we will distribute that tax burden over a far greater number and in time and we could even see our taxes go down in future years as the pool of residents grows.
We need to act now
If you are in Revelstoke, please attend the open house at the Revelstoke Community Centre from 6-9 p.m. on Oct.4, 2017 and make our thoughts heard. There is a presentation that starts at 6:30 p.m.
Complete the online survey for either residents of the CSRD or the City of Revelstoke. The survey takes two minutes and apart from age and gender takes no personal data so please complete it now.
The CSRD assumes silence and non-attendance as support for their opinion and once they formalize their opinion it will be another 20 years before we get our say again, by which time it will be too late anyway.
Links to the two surveys are below:
The first question on each survey is your priority list for the future of South Revelstoke interestingly they don’t have three priorities that support moving to the city but they do have plenty as to why it should stay in the CSRD. You can suggest another reason using the tab at the bottom rather than using just the ones suggested or just use one or two.
The other questions are straight-forward. Please put the development pins on the map accordingly.
The current OCP for the CSRD dated 23rd November 2016 states on page :
4.4.8 As shown on Figure 4.2, South Revelstoke contains an Upper Bench area that adjoins the planned core of Revelstoke Mountain Resort. The Upper Bench will be impacted by future activity in the resort core and will not sustain its present rural character. Recognizing the nature of future development pressures, the CSRD supports the following strategy for the Upper Bench.
a. As Revelstoke Mountain Resort develops, the future land uses considered for the Upper Bench should be urban and resort development;
b. development to higher resort densities should be consistent with the overall direction of the Resort Master Plan, and will require neighbourhood planning and design guidelines to achieve consistency and use compatibility;
c. development to higher density cannot be accomplished without improved servicing. The terms of servicing, phasing, timing and partnerships shall be considered as part of a detailed planning process; and
d. when there is a clear strategy to integrate development on the Upper Bench with the overall Revelstoke Mountain Resort Master Plan, these lands may be more appropriately administered as properties within the City of Revelstoke and the CSRD could support a Phase 3 boundary extension process that considers the private lands on the Upper Bench and how they should be serviced.
4.4.9 The Regional District recognizes the development pressure currently being experienced on the ALR lands below the Revelstoke Mountain Resort; however the ALC has indicated that it does not support a review of these lands for exclusion from the ALR. The ALC has indicated that it would only consider a review under the following conditions.
• specific information is provided as to the capacity of non ALR land in the City of Revelstoke to accommodate growth (i.e. more land is required to service growth pressures); and
• the land is proposed for incorporation into the City of Revelstoke.
The CSRD’s own OCP recognizes the future use of the lands Designated as “South Revelstoke” the Upper Bench has now all gone into the City of Revelstoke and as result we have a reactionary survey to try and stop the sensible future land use and planning of the remaining portion of the South Bench.
I have also reached out to the Local food Initiative as Shelley and I are prepared to donate an acre of our land to them if they want to raise the funds to build a community greenhouse. This is a far better solution for all and if the CSRD is really is worried about food security as they claim, then they can support this initiative. Farming land that has never been farmed and cannot support farming in a short three-month window is not a plan. Having a community greenhouse will support far more growth than the entire South Bench ever could. I am waiting to meet with the LFI board to discuss further.
I support full inclusion of the entire South Bench and urge you all to do the same if you care about the long-term future growth of our city and not the misguided thoughts of a few politicians and planners from Salmon Arm. Please complete the survey relevant to you and show your support for growth in the City of Revelstoke and give our mayor, council and staff a clear mandate for a full boundary expansion.