Rick Nybakken’s journey to establish a new Revelstoke guesthouse is well underway.
The Spruce Grove, Alta. resident is seeking zoning changes and an official community plan redesignation for property at 1502 Mountain View Drive – the site of the former Lutheran church – so his proposed guest house, Journey’s Perch, can come to fruition.
Last week, city council showed its support for the project, voting unanimously in favour of third reading for the proposed land use changes following a related public hearing.
The hearing began with Nybakken reading from a letter he’d submitted to council. He lamented the fact a positive gathering space had to close its doors, but said this has opened an opportunity to attract alternative benefits for the area.
“I will strive to create a quiet place of rest that appeals to the outdoor adventure demographic…,” said Nybakken. “Journey’s Perch will provide a place where like-minded travellers can share stories and exchange experiences while resting or preparing for full days of activities in the area.”
Nybakken said he intends to leave the building as it stands, but renovate the interior to construct five rooms for guests (private and dorm style), as well as communal washrooms and showers. In the future he intends to build a patio on the west side of the building, along Airport Way.
Nybakken said he and his partner intend to reside at the guesthouse, and call Revelstoke home.
Following Nybakken’s presentation, council heard the concerns of a few residents who live near 1502. Referring to the guesthouse as a hostel, George Goodwin said the purpose of hostels is to provide lower cost accommodation “desired by many transient persons on limited budgets,” adding there’s low crime, traffic and noise levels in the area and he’d like it to stay that way.
“This is not to suggest all transients are criminals; in fact very few are,” said Goodwin, adding Revelstoke is close knit and shouldn’t allow business to hurt the community.
Noise concerns were repeatedly raised, particularly in regard to the proposed patio and the possibility of sledders staying at the guesthouse, running their vehicles early in the morning and late at night.
Staff suggested the city’s noise bylaw will deal with some of those concerns.
Mayor Mark McKee said having a caretaker onsite will go a long way to deal with complaints before they happen.
“The number one message I try to send to the public is to be a good neighbour,” said McKee. “It’s easier to be a good neighbour when you’re actually living onsite in the neighbourhood as well. But I think the point is very well taken…”
During the hearing, Nybakken also received support from chamber executive director Judy Goodman and Poppi’s Guesthouse owner Poppi Reiner.
Reiner noted the negative perception that exists surrounding hostels, and that this influenced her decision to call her business a guesthouse. She said she understands the concerns, but has run her business (where she also lives) for eight years, and the negative experiences have been few.
“I’ve had neighbours come to me and thank me for keeping everything quiet, that they’re surprised how quiet my place was, and in fact I’ve been more quieter than some of the neighbours,” said Reiner.
Nybakken said he couldn’t guarantee sledders wouldn’t book with him, but they generally like to stick with the hotels on the highway.
“I do have full control over the business that we run, and we do create the vibe and the environment that is available for the guests,” said Nybakken. “My full intention is to keep it a quiet place like it’s somebody’s… backyard. That’s the beauty and the appeal of this property, in particular, that it does provide that space away from downtown.”