A fight has begun between Revelstoke’s hoteliers and the developer who’s attempting to enter the club.
The Revelstoke Accommodation Association is asking city council to oppose David Evans’ proposed Treehouse Hotel, saying it could hurt future infrastructure development at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
“It is the Revelstoke Accommodation Association’s opinion that allowing further annexation and this competing development is not in the best interest of RAA, the ski hill or the city,” writes Norm Langlois, the president of RAA, in a letter to the City of Revelstoke dated May 6. “While short term this may bring development, it will actually slow the progress being made.”
The Revelstoke Accommodation Association (RAA), is the promotional and lobbying group for the community’s hotels. They are partners with the Chamber of Commerce in Revelstoke Tourism.
The Treehouse Hotel proposal has been both intriguing and controversial from the start. Evans is proposing to build a hotel with 100 to 200 units, with accommodation embedded throughout the landscape on an 18-acre property located just outside the boundary of the resort.
The property was annexed into the city late last year and Evans filed an application to re-zone the property last month.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort has been vehemently opposed to the treehouse hotel. In a letter opposing the annexation, they called it a “parasitic development” and said the proponents were taking advantage of infrastructure the resort paid for.
The province’s Mountain Resort Branch agreed. In a 2014 letter, land officer Ben Sampogna wrote the resort, province and city could be harmed should “parasitic competition reduce the resort’s viability.”
Sampogna’s letter also noted that the resort can only develop new bed units if it develops infrastructure on the hill, such as new chairlifts.
“The ability of a third-party developer to construct commercial accommodation immediately adjacent to the resort, without having been made to develop costly infrastructure, most certainly provides an unfair competitive advantage,” he stated.
The Master Development Agreement between the resort and the province ties the number of beds to infrastructure on the hill. The resort can buy Crown land from the province for $5,000 per acre in order to build more beds, provided it develops the mountain. It can only build more beds if the capacity on the hill allows for it — what the province deems the “comfortable carrying capacity.”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations, said the resort can build another 4,000 beds before it needs to add any more chairlifts on the mountain.
RAA’s issue is similar to the resorts. In an interview, Langlois noted that unlike RMR, Evans doesn’t have to build any on-mountain infrastructure to build his hotel. “We think that creates an unfair playing field, and that’s something we’re opposed to.
“If that creates an environment where infrastructure on the hill is delayed, we think that’s a bad thing for RAA. We think that’s a bad thing for the entire town,” said Langlois. “We think the ski hill should be putting new lifts in as soon as they can and continue what they’ve built on so far.”
He added their issue isn’t with new hotels or development, but only with development in that location, at the edge of the resort lands. “We feel there are other lands that are already zoned for hotels in the community and they will not have the same impact as allowing this to continue,” he said.
Evans responded to the Review’s request for comment with a letter of his own, writing that he was “saddened and very disappointed” by RAA’s opposition to his hotel.
“I am disappointed that it appears certain groups are trying to influence this decision to benefit themselves, rather than working as a community to build something that benefits everybody,” he wrote.
He said RAA’s arguments were the same as RMR’s when it opposed the annexation of his property to the city. He also said the letter didn’t take into consideration the final details of his application, which include an offer to build a chairlift connecting his property to the resort, and maintain ski runs.
Those elements were not part of his initial re-zoning application that went to the city last month. The revised application was submitted May 11, five days after RAA’s letter was written.
Evans didn’t provide a copy of the application to the Review and city staff were unable to confirm those elements before press time.
Evans said his development could result in up to $3.6 million in extra lift ticket sales for the resort, and he said it would bring more people to the community.
He says his development meets Revelstoke’s Official Community Plan goals of boosting economic development and tourism, and fits with the targeted land use for the area around the resort.
Council backed his annexation request.
Evans’ property is actually identified as being part of the resort in RMR’s master plan, however the owners never purchased the land.
Evans owns another property further south on Camozzi Road that is identified as being a future equestrian centre for the resort. He has applied to have it annexed to the city. He is also behind the major Mackenzie Village development being proposed for Arrow Heights.
Peter Nielsen, the vice-president of Revelstoke Mountain Resort, did not respond to requests for an interview before press time.