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‘One of the tools we have is denial’: City council back and fourth with Revelstoke Mountain Resort

A potential amendment to Zoning Bylaw No. 2346 has been discussed at length by council and RMR
A conceptual development plan at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. (Revelstoke Mountain Resort)

Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) was back and forth from City Council meetings recently, delivering presentations on an application to amend a bylaw that would allow it to apply for density shifting as it moves forward with the next phases of its Master Development Agreement (MDA).

The amendment to the bylaw would allow RMR to spread out the density of the 16,600-bed units which could be developed at the resort, as outlined by its MDA with the province, in 10 development areas. Each area is allowed a certain amount of density.

The application to amend the bylaw resulted in nearly three hours of discussion amongst councillors, city staff, and representatives from RMR at the regular council meeting on Feb. 14 and a special committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 21.

In Comprehensive Development Zone 8, where RMR resides, Areas 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 are referred to as the resort neighbourhood areas with the possibility for residential housing, tourist accommodation, restaurants, and recreation. Areas 1, 9 and 10 are referred to as resort core areas. Areas 1 and 10 are currently allocated the biggest portions of density.

This amendment would give RMR the ability to allocate up to 411 residential units and roughly 3,300 sq. m of commercial space to both areas 4 and 5, which were originally envisioned to be a part of the golf course, from area 1, which is where the golf course is to be located.

Proposed text amendment for density re-allocation. (Revelstoke Mountain Resort)
Proposed text amendment for density re-allocation. (Revelstoke Mountain Resort)

At the regular council meeting on Feb. 14, Peter Nielsen, RMR’s Vice President- Operations, and Jason Kelder, Executive Advisor to Real Estate and Resort Development Projects, made a presentation to the council ahead of the group making their decision on whether or not to allow a second reading of the amended bylaw. Council opinion was split.

With seven members on the council, a tie would ordinarily be impossible, but Coun. Aaron Orlando recused himself from the meeting, citing a conflict of interest due to a business relationship with the resort. Coun. Orlando also recused himself from the second meeting on Tuesday (Feb. 21).

Coun. Tim Palmer expressed his displeasure at the lack of time the council had with the material before the meeting.

“I am disappointed in that we only had one hour just before this meeting, so I am feeling like I am being pressured and almost coerced into having to make a decision,” said Coun. Palmer at the beginning of the discussion. “I need more information before making these kinds of decisions,” he added.

Coun. Tim Stapenhurst echoed Palmer’s concerns of not having enough information made available to make a decision.

“I think we’ve got enough information on the table to read a second time,” said Mayor Gary Sulz.

Councilors Matt Cherry, Lee Devlin, and Mayor Sulz voted in favour of a second reading of the zoning bylaw amendment, while Councilors Stapenhurst, Palmer, and Austin Luciow voted in opposition to the motion, defeating the motion on a tie.

A graph demonstrating how density could be re-allocated if the amendment to the bylaw is passed. (Revelstoke Mountain Resort)
A graph demonstrating how density could be re-allocated if the amendment to the bylaw is passed. (Revelstoke Mountain Resort)

After the defeat by a tie, RMR was back at the table on Feb. 21, to go over the material once more, in a second effort to have the bylaw amended.

Although the Feb. 21 Special Committee of the Whole meeting was only to examine an amendment to the bylaw that would allow RMR to request a shift in density, the conversation quickly jumped into the implications of the shift.

The issue with the bylaw boils down to a table in the 2003 Master Plan of RMR. In the document, the density allotments were laid out based on the plan at the time, which was still largely hypothetical, as no ground-proofing or testing had been done for significant portions of the later phases. Now, the resort is up to those stages and it feels the table is no longer practical.

“With that table, council has some leverage,” responded Coun. Palmer on Feb. 21. “One of the tools we have is denial, which we did last week.”

Palmer added that RMR’s perspectives on the potential development should and can align with community values, which he stated as being related to preserving ecosystems and community connectivity.

“There is pretty substantial policies and guidance contained within the OCP (Official Community Plan),” responded Simon. “In my view, the OCP does a pretty good job at actually including some of those specific policies.”

“If those policies are inadequate to protect the community values, then that becomes a conversation about whether or not the OCP is crafted accordingly, and from my perspective, the OCP does give a lot of tools that we would use to apply in future development stages,” added Simon.

Ultimately, a further resolution will be required by the council on the second reading of the amendment to the bylaw as the motion was defeated by a tie at the council meeting on Feb. 14.

“Being able to see housing along Nichol Rd. and up Camozzi Rd., all the way up, in a way that those who come from out of our community won’t be able to tell what’s originally Revelstoke and what’s now resort because it all amalgamates into a way that works for everybody,” concluded Mayor Sulz.

“For [Nielsen and Kelder] being here and willing to hear our concerns about that, I think that’s imperative as we move forward and we give consideration to really what’s going on,” added Mayor Sulz.

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