The board of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District voted to recommend approval of two applications to the Agricultural Land Commission relating to the Revelstoke Adventure Park and an adjacent subdivision.
The Illecillewaet Development company submitted two different applications to the Agricultural Land Commission relating to their property in the Greeley area. The first is to allow non-farm use on a portion of private land that will be part of the adventure park.
The other is for a 21-property sub-division along the Illecillewaet River.
Last Thursday both applications were presented to the CSRD for referral and in both cases, the board voted to recommend approval to the ALC, which has the final say on both applications.
In doing so, they voted contrary to staff reports that recommended refusal for both applications.
For the first application, a report prepared for the proponents by agrologist Bob Holtby says the land is “obviously arable” but the wetness of the field limits it to permanent pasture or forage harvesting. Holtby’s report concludes, “It is my opinion that the proposal will have little, if any, impacts on the agricultural capability of the land.”
A CSRD staff report counters some of the claims in Holtby’s report. It says Holtby’s report doesn’t properly consider the volume of use that would be required to make the adventure park viable. It questions the assessment that the adventure park wouldn’t impact future agricultural use of the land and says that the volume of use needed for it to be successful is “not especially compatible with agricultural use.”
Hotby’s report on the sub-division says the land is arable and the best use would be for forage crops. Dividing the land into 21 one-hectare lots would allow for hobby farm development similar to homes nearby.
“I believe that this proposal, coupled with the non-farm use application that has been presented, would provide a non-conflicting development in a currently isolated area,” Holtby concludes.
Still, in its report on the sub-division, CSRD staff opposed the application on the grounds that the proposed 21 one-hectare lots are not supported by the Area B Official Community Plan, and so the ALC should not approve it.
However, at the meeting of the CSRD Board of Directors on Nov. 14, Area B director Loni Parker spoke in favour of both applications. She told the board she spent a lot of time in her youth there, and with the lack of sun, late springs and early falls, it was a place the ALC should review.
She said she supported the sub-division application and that small hobby farms were needed in the area. She said the developments would not impact the City of Revelstoke’s watershed. She said both applications represented good economic opportunities for the area and she urged the board to support the applications.
In a follow-up interview, Parker said the guidelines laid out in the OCP were there to make sure the Greeley area didn’t turn into a second base village for Revelstoke Mountain Resort, not that there shouldn’t be any development there.
“I’m not concerned we’re going to have rampant development out there that’s not done by design,” she said. “There’s still a process that would happen.”
The adventure park proponent is still applying for a tenure over crown land. If it moves forward, it would still need to apply for an OCP amendment and re-zoning.
The board voted to reject the staff recommendations and instead voted on a different motion supporting both applications.
Revelstoke mayor David Raven, the chair of the CSRD, stepped out of the meeting while the applications were discussed. “I’ve taken a lot of personal attacks and any participation of mine in that decision would be taken the wrong way,” he said. “It would bring question to the decision regardless of whichever way I voted on it.”
The adventure park’s proponents are working on addressing the demands made of it by the province after it’s initial application for crown tenure was rejected by the Integrated Land Management Bureau.
“We’re just doing whatever the province wants us to do. We’re taking all those concerns that were brought up and we’re working on answering and mitigating and of the issues that could possible arrive,” said Jason Roe.
With files from Barb Brouwer/Salmon Arm Observer