The Stoked Living development on Hay Rd. will be moving forward.
Revelstoke City Council voted unanimously in favour of amendments to the zoning bylaw and the Official Community Plan that will allow the construction of the controversial 59-unit development in Arrow Heights.
“I think it is a fantastic, shining example of what could be done, it is exactly what Revelstoke wants to be known for,” said Councillor Nicole Cherlet.
The project is a combination of single-family homes, duplexes and row houses, 10 of which will be set aside for long-term rentals for 12 years. The developer plans for each unit to be a passive home as each building will produce as much clean energy as they consume. The homes are also 80 per cent more energy efficient and reduce heating costs by 80-90 per cent.
The project was first brought before city council in June 2019. Developer Stefan Maunz, who had moved to Revelstoke for biking and skiing in 2017, said he knew it would be difficult to build a development in Revelstoke so began consulting with the community before even going to council.
Maunz said he appreciates the feedback and is really proud of his project.
From the beginning, the proposal was loudly opposed by neighbours who signed petitions, wrote letters and circulated pamphlets listing reasons why the development should not be approved.
“I think a lot of that fear comes from the fear of the unknown because they are just not totally aware of what is happening at city hall behind closed doors,” said Councillor Cody Younker. “We need to take responsibility for that.”
At the public hearing Sept. 17, speakers brought up concerns about increased traffic, lack of sidewalks in the neighbourhood, potential property-tax implications for the community without updated Development Cost Charges as well as many other reasons why the development should not be approved.
However, almost 50 per cent of the presenters at the meeting voiced support of the development, touting the variety of housing it was offering as well as the commitment to passive homes.
Steven Cross, a member of the Citizens Coalition for Responsible planning and a vocal opponent of the project, said it was a travesty to approve the development with so many big priorities getting less attention, such as the OCP update, the DCCs update, affordability and planning.
On the other hand, Cross said he feels good that the city is talking about those important issues in a more public way.
“This is what those of us against this proposal voiced most of all and our protest worked,” Cross said in an email on Sept. 22. “Councils lack of attention on the most important things to our community has now been highlighted and it looks like things will now start happening.”
A major concern for the coalition was the out-of-date Official Community Plan, many claiming that without this plan it is developers rather than residents that are deciding the future of Revelstoke.
However, Marianne Wade, director of development services said that city staff are currently working on updating the plan on a neighbourhood by neighbourhood basis, having approved a revised vision statement earlier this year.
Cross said he and the coalition are concerned with the process, saying he thinks it has lacked proper community consultation, so far.
Another concern brought forward during the public hearing and by the coalition is increased traffic, lack of emergency access to the neighbourhood that has only one entrance and pedestrian safety.
According to Steven Black, director of engineering for the city, these concerns as well as considerations of trail connectivity will likely be addressed in the upcoming transportation master plan, which staff are currently working on.
Concerns about the impact of construction on surrounding properties, including drainage, as well as details of the development agreement will be reviewed during the upcoming subdivision and building permit processes, said Wade.
The Development Cost Charge bylaw is also scheduled to be updated this year, with $100,000 set aside in the 2020 budget.
However, Cross said he was disappointed that none of the councillors asked what the developer will pay in DCCs now versus the actual estimated cost to the city to build the infrastructure that the development will need. Adding that it is super important for council to get the charges updated.
Another concern was the cost of park maintenance to the city.
Though the developer will be maintaining the public park onsite for the first four years, Laurie Donato, director of parks, recreation and culture for the city does not yet have an estimate for what it will cost when the park is handed over to the city, adding that there will be community consultation when the city looks at plans for the parks.
Overall, Cross is most concerned about the promises to deal with the issues at a later date.
“A lot is being left to faith,” he said. “I’ve been around long enough to have been through many many developments in many different cities and I can tell you the faith is not usually upheld by the time the thing is finished.”