The battle between Revelstoke Mountain Resort and developer David Evans over the proposed treehouse hotel continues to heat up.
The latest salvo comes from Evans, who has said he’ll hold off full development of his proposed treehouse hotel for five years, but only if RMR commits to building a new chairlift, opening new ski terrain, building a new restaurant at the top of the gondola, expanding summer tourism options and building a bike park within the next five years.
In exchange, he says he’ll only develop 25 per cent of his property until five years have passed.
“The offer of a five year no-build covenant, would take the resort past its 15-year anniversary and the initial schedule to full build-out,” Evans wrote in his application. “I do not think my terms are at all onerous for RMR as these are items they should be doing anyway under their tenure agreement. If RMR is genuinely committed to growing the four season tenure they have and establishing Revelstoke as a true destination town, the five-year no build covenant is a reasonable and more-than-fair offer.”
When asked to respond to Evans’ demands, Peter Nielsen, the resort’s vice president of operations, said it was the first he’d seen of them. “Our knowledge of this application is the same as the public,” he said. “It’s highly unusual language. I haven’t even had a chance to digest this.”
The treehouse hotel re-zoning application is set to go before council for the first time on Tuesday, June 14.
Evans is proposing to build a boutique treehouse hotel on an 18-acre property located on Camozzi Road, just south of the resort’s base area. The development would include at least one main hotel building and a number of accommodation pods scattered throughout the property, though the application doesn’t set a maximum size on the number of units.
“The primary intent of this area is to build accommodation pods that are serviced by a single lodge. However, should the demand for additional accommodation units for skiers and destination tourists be needed the proposed zoning allows the site to offer more accommodation units,” he wrote in his application.
Evans told the Review in April the hotel would include 100–200 units.
A notable aspect of the proposal is that Evans is seeking to build a rope tow or magic carpet and extend two ski runs in order to provide ski-in, ski-out access to his property. They would be located on RMR’s land.
Nielsen said they’d never been approached about any of this. “We’ve had no communication in advance with regard to any agreements or land use,” he told the Review.
A report by Dean Strachan, the city’s manager of development services, recommends council put several conditions on the development.
First, the city is asking that a roadway through the property be established so the RMR can access the resort lands on the other side. Evans has agreed to this.
Second, the city is looking to enter into a master development agreement with Evans that would govern the construction of infrastructure and phasing of the development.
Third, parkland would be set aside in the property.
Fourth, Evans would only be able to develop a quarter of his property in the first five years, but only if the resort fails to update its master plan within the next two years. If no update comes forward, Evans could go forward as he wishes.
Finally, the city is asking Evans and RMR to continue to work together to encourage the growth of the resort.
Evans’ application goes to council after a public exchange of letters with RMR and the Revelstoke Accommodation Association (RAA).
The resort has opposed the hotel ever since Evans first applied to have the property annexed to the city in 2014. They called it a “parasitic development,” arguing it would make use of sewer and water infrastructure the resort paid to have installed, without contributing to the costs. The hotel also wouldn’t have to bear the costs of developing infrastructure such as new chairlifts at the resort, something the resort i expected to do under its master development agreement.
In a seven-page letter to mayor and council dated April 27, 2016, the resort made further accusations against Evans.
“We realize the proponent developer wants to create and develop a new commercial centre at the base of the Resort,” wrote Rob Toor, a lawyer for Northland Properties, RMR’s parent company. “The proponent developer’s zoning application is asking for comprehensive development status, which would make it possible for the proponent developer to build multiple hotels of any type along with numerous other commercial enterprises on the subject site.”
The letter goes on to claim Evans intends to develop a second commercial centre in town that would hurt downtown businesses.
Evans denied those claims in a letter of his own dated May 20. “Nowhere in my submission am I requesting to build a village or commercial hub. I have no idea where Mr. Toor is getting this information from or why he would be making this assumption other than to spread fear and create objections where there should be none,” he wrote.
He added that his hotel could result in an additional $3.8 million in ticket sales for the resort, though that number is based on his hotel being sold out and all customers paying full price for tickets.
Meanwhile, the Revelstoke Accommodation Association sided with RMR, saying that Evans’ development could hurt growth at the resort, which would hurt the community.
The Review reported that the resort can still build another 4,000 bed units before it needs to build any new chairlifts on the mountain, calling into question some of the RMR’s claims.
Evans’ latest salvo is designed to put pressure on the resort to develop. In an interview, Evans told the Review he wasn’t making demands of the resort, but was in fact making concessions by building a road through his property.
“The biggest concession is a five-year no build covenant on 75 per cent of the property,” he said, adding it would allow RMR to develop its own bed units in the meantime.
“I want RMR to develop and do things,” he said. “All I’m asking is for them to update the plan and then let’s have some action on the plan.”
The city finds itself in between the two parties but hoping to stay out of their dispute. “If the proposed development proceeds, it is recommended that council encourage both the applicant and RMR to continue discussions and work towards opportunities for both parties to participate in the successful growth and expansion of the resort,” wrote Strachan.