It’s an unavoidable conclusion that the Mayor of Revelstoke, David Raven, and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District Area B director, Loni Parker, are at odds over the Revelstoke Adventure Park (RAP) development proposed for the Greeley area.
Stating with any clarity the issues between the heads of the neighbouring jurisdictions is more problematic. Both say they’re defending clean water. Both claim to champion economic development. Both say they’re ticking the appropriate boxes as the proposal winds its way through a complex bureaucratic process.
It’s the plain facts that are up for dispute.
At the City of Revelstoke’s Aug. 27 meeting, Mayor David Raven was clear: The City of Revelstoke asked the CSRD for $25,000 in funding for a boundary expansion study related to the RAP proposal, but were turned down. “The Regional District did not have the funding in the budget at this time,” was the response, Raven said.
In a letter to the editor published Aug. 28, (CSRD director blindsided by city boundary expansion letter, Letters, Aug. 28) Parker was adamant that no $25,000 funding request had been made. “There is no plan for boundary expansion,” Parker said.
Following the paper trail, you could argue both sides.
So, what to make of the situation? Unfortunately, the more you ask, the less the situation resembles the clear water flowing down Greeley Creek.
At that Aug. 27 meeting, I asked the mayor, is boundary expansion on or off?
“The city advised the [CSRD] that we were quite prepared to look at it in order to protect the watershed,” the mayor replied. “The watershed is very valuable, almost sacred to us. And the regional district came back and clarified our letter, understanding it was simply to do with the watershed issues, and there are no ongoing activities at this time, although they could be well pursued in the future to ensure the city water supply is protected.”
It’s that clear.
In an interview early last week, Director Parker said communications were strained. While attempting to maintain the semblance of a diplomatic front, she aired grievances about a city council straying beyond its border.
Parker acknowledged the City of Revelstoke’s concerns about their water supply, saying she shared them.
She criticized Revelstoke City Council for a lack of communication on the RAP plan. Parker said she hadn’t spoken with Mayor Raven (who is the chairperson of the CSRD) about the boundary expansion letter since it came to light in June.
Parker said communications between herself and city hall “aren’t there” since Mayor David Raven took office in late 2008.
“I just work with whoever is on council,” Parker said. “I wouldn’t blow it up … to say we’re having a fight.”
Parker said in the past, the protocol was to discuss moves like boundary expansion with those affected, before starting. “If the city were to be more communicative with the regional district – if there was a [boundary expansion] process going on – it would be a good thing, and we could have a discussion about it.”
Parker said after a lengthy process to develop the Shelter development proposal at Shelter Bay, the city had also recently sent a “negative” letter to provincial authorities about the plan.
“It’s a big development. It spent years going through that process – tons of pubic input into it. And at the 11th hour a letter from the city came with a whole bunch of negative comments as well. The developer called me and asked, ‘Do I have to be worried about this?’ … ‘Is the city going to be able to throw a wrench in this?’”
“It’s not even close to the city,” Parker added of Shelter Bay.
“There’s an issue. It’s something that’s been brought up with the city over many years about them not being business friendly. So maybe the question should be asked of them: Here’s a development [RAP] that could be good for the City of Revelstoke. Why aren’t you supporting it?” Parker asked. “They can say they are supporting it, but if you take a look at the wording that they put in there, well certainly you’re not going to get something streamlined if you throw flags in the way of FrontCounter BC on an issue that’s a non-issue.” She said the city over-listed concerns, such as the bridge over the Illecillewaet and the highway entrance – both are provincial responsibilities.
Parker maintains she’s followed normal process with the RAP development, saying Revelstoke is Revelstoke on either side of the municipal boundary. “I’m going to fight for the right thing for everybody.”
She added that within the past year, she’d discussed the idea of boundary expansion with city officials. The idea was to include residences located near the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort who had been negatively affected by silt contamination originating at the resort. Parker said she’d been told by city officials that expansion wasn’t in the cards.
Back at city council, Mayor David Raven re-emphasized water safety is the city’s main concern. “I don’t think there is a problem with communications between the municipality and the regional district,” he said, adding he’s spent considerable time pursuing economic development opportunities for Revelstoke. “But at the same time I have a fiduciary responsibility to the city.”
When asked if there was a “void” of communication about city council’s position on the development, three underscored the need to protect the city’s water supply.
Coun. Tony Scarcella said he was behind it 100 per cent, saying it could be a job-creator.
Coun. Gary Starling said he is, “totally in favour of that development [and] would like to see it move forward.”
“I don’t think there’s anybody on council who doesn’t think this is a good idea,” said Coun. Steve Bender. “But due diligence has to be done.” He added the controversy around town was overblown, and wouldn’t alleviate the onus on the developer to manage the proposal through local, regional and provincial bureacracies.
Bender came closer to what some councillors seem to allude to; the RAP proponents’ initial application package to provincial regulators was a bit light, and they have a lot more work to do: “Jumbo took 25 years,” Bender said. “Our ski hill took 20, and it already had a ski hill on it.”
Outside on the steps after Revelstoke City Council’s Aug. 27 meeting, Revelstoke Adventure Park proponent Jason Roe said he was still gathering information from government authorities on their concerns following an initial rejection by FrontCounter BC this summer. Once he’d learned more, he plans to host a public open house. He’s targeting mid-October.
Roe was concerned about Revelstoke City Council comparing his proposal to the Jumbo Glacier Resort or Revelstoke Mountain Resort. His roadside adventure park isn’t in the same ballpark, or the same league, he said; it’s not a big real estate-driven development proposal.
The Revelstoke-based hotel, restaurant and property owner poses the question: If RAP were a proposal on par with Jumbo or RMR, shouldn’t Revelstoke City Hall reach out to learn more about the proposal? More than the short 10-minute presentation to council he’s been allotted so far?
Publicly unveiled in early 2013, the Revelstoke Adventure Park is a proposed outdoor adventure facility in the Greeley area at the foot of Mount Mackenzie’s north face. Activities include bungee jumping, ziplines, chairlift mountain biking, river rafting, a golf driving range, camping, retail and more.