Revelstoke city hall overlooked a special land reserve that may have helped it stop a gravel pit development off Westside Road.
According to a staff report by Alan Mason, the city’s director of economic development, the city had two land reserves put in place in 2008, when it was looking to lure a data centre to the community.
One of the reserves is located where city council approved a development permit for a new gravel pit last fall. The other is near the Revelstoke Dam.
Unfortunately, the existence of the land reserves was not brought up by staff when Revelstoke Sand & Gravel applied for a new gravel pit last summer.
“Staff were surprised when we were told by the province in the last couple of months there was still a reserve status on that piece of land,” Mason told council on Tuesday. “We don’t have a veto over the use but because the land is on their books as a reserve to the city, we have a opportunity to give some kind of input. That’s where we’re at.”
Now, the city is hoping the existence of that reserve can be used to impact the gravel pit development, but first they are asking the province to study if new gravel pits are needed.
Council approved two recommendations at its meeting on Tuesday, May 24. The first was to ask the province to conduct a gravel supply and demand study before approving any additional gravel pits in the Westside Road area. The second was to have the city re-assert its interest in the northern land reserve, near the Revelstoke Dam, so it can be used to entice a data centre to the community.
Council had lots of questions about what was happening.
“If it’s reserve land, why are we approving a gravel pit?” asked councillor Connie Brothers.
“How did that reserve get missed in the OCP planning and the ICSP planning?” asked coun. Linda Nixon.
“What is likely to happen with the existing (gravel pit) applications regarding this demand study? Will they be put on hold or get turned down?” asked coun. Aaron Orlando.
Mason told council the reason the reserves weren’t considered in the first place is because staff thought they were only in place for five years and had expired by now.
For the northern reserve, council has asked that the province give it a veto on any future land-use applications if they conflict with city goals.
“At the moment the province has to consult with us,” explained Mason. “We can apply to have the reserve upgrade so we have an absolute veto on anything that takes place on it.”
For the southern reserve, Mason said the city should find out how much gravel will be needed in the future, and how much is available, before deciding on the future of the reserve.
“Gravel is very important for communities and the need for gravel is important. There’s benefits around employment, around construction costs,” said Mason. “If the province agrees to go ahead with that extraction study, it may come back and say this is the best source of gravel in the area.”
Revelstoke Sand & Gravel has applied to develop a new gravel pit in the area of the southern reserve, while Interroute has applied to expand its existing Westside Road pit into the area.