After the collapse of the Unified Development Bylaw process in early 2013, the City of Revelstoke has been quiet on plans to revamp city zoning.
The current zoning bylaw was completed in 1982 and has had significant alterations since then. Basically, it’s antiquated, is a bit of a dog’s breakfast, and hasn’t kept up with actual real-world changes in the community that have impacted zoning significantly.
In 2009, our new resort community had just completed its Official Community Plan, and hoped to modernize zoning through an new Unified Development Bylaw, which included contemporary zoning concepts, such as mixed use areas.
But, the challenge of pioneering that kind of zoning bylaw – one of the first in Canada – proved to be too much, and city council withdrew in early 2013, citing ballooning costs and legal hurdles as two main challenges.
Now, the new Development Services department manager overseeing a revamp of zoning in Revelstoke has outlined his approach.
At an April 10 Development Services committee meeting, Dean Strachan outlined plans to revamp the zoning bylaw on a piece-by-piece basis over the next year, culminating in a final push to revise the bylaw next summer.
He said the step-by-step approach is favourable to taking on the job in one go:
“When it comes around to next summer we’ll be able to introduce a new zoning bylaw,” Strachan told the committee. “So instead of going away and spending a year developing a zoning bylaw – and quite often communities will spend that year with a consultant at significant cost to do that – we’re going to do it in house, and we’re going to do it as a progressive plan and exercise, and we’ll do it piece by piece by piece.”
By next summer, about 80 per cent of the bylaw will be revised, leaving the last parts for a final push to adopt a new zoning bylaw.
He said an added benefit is the ability to deal with pressing issues as they arise.
He said the plan is to create simpler, more seamless bylaws.
In an “update road map” report into the zoning bylaw, Strachan said the city’s advisory planning commission would receive review recommendations, and the final document would be subject to referrals and public hearings.
As part of the zoning bylaw rewrite, vacation rentals are set for council discussion in May, and home occupation amendments are also up for discussion.
The previous, failed zoning bylaw attempt that ended in 2013 outlined lofty, transformative goals. They included neighbourhood hubs, more walkable communities, and more.
This time, that messaging has been replaced with a focus on getting the bylaw done soon, without using outside consultants.
The other focus is making the bylaws more accessible.
“What we are doing is making the language so that anybody in the community can open the zoning bylaw, read it and understand it,” Strachan said.