Revelstoke City Council hosted their first public hearing on Sept. 17 since the pandemic was declared.
They heard a variety of voices both against and in favour of a proposed development on Hay Rd. that would see the addition of 59 housing units in the neighbourhood.
The development was designed with the city’s Housing Needs Assessment in mind, which calls for a variety of housing options at every price point except for those accessible by only high income earners. To address those needs the developer included duplexes and row houses as well as single-family homes in the development.
Stefan Maunz, the developer for the project, is also proposing the entire project be passive housing, which means zero greenhouse gas emissions and up to 90 per cent lower utility bills.
Even several people who voiced their disapproval of the project, admitted the development was a good option, but had several other reasons for being against it.
Several residents called on the city to complete the update of the Official Community Plan, with adequate community consultation, before approving this and other large developments.
Nancy Geismer said it was terrifying to have bought property in a quiet, semi-rural, neighbourhood and have that swept away.
The current plan was adopted in 2009 and the city is in the process of updating it. The city approved a new vision statement after several rounds of community consultation in July.
Other concerns included that without updates to the Development Cost Charges Bylaw, taxpayers will end up taking the brunt of future infrastructure sewer, road and water infrastructure projects.
Bruce Alwan, claims he has seen his property taxes increase by $4,000 in the last five years.
“It is time we prioritize the needs of taxpayers over the needs of developers and tourists,” he said.
The Development Cost Charges Bylaw requires developers pay a tax to the city which is then used for sewer, water and road infrastructure projects. The bylaw was last updated in 2008. Council attempted to update in 2018 but the proposal was defeated.
Some others were not necessarily against development, but opposed to the land being rezoned, saying the developer bought it as an R-1 zone and it should stay that way.
A common concern amongst those opposed to the project is the increase in traffic to the area, which has only one access road and no sidewalks. They also worried about snow removal and street parking.
Though the zoning does not allow for vacation rentals, many claimed it could still be a problem if the city is unable to police illegal vacation rentals.
Many shared they believe the neighbourhood is still bitter about the Mackenzie Village development that has yet to be completed in full and could have more than 800 more units if all phases are complete.
Two neighbouring landowners also shared their concerns about flooding and stormwater runoff from the developed property onto theirs.
Though the majority of letters submitted to the city regarding the proposal were against the development, the balance of opinion was almost even at the public hearing.
Many brought up Revelstoke’s housing and rental shortage as a good reason to move the project forward.
Almost everyone in attendance at both sessions of the meeting voiced their support for building passive housing, some of those supported the project specifically for that reason.
“I hope you can separate disapproval of the city and processes and look at the merits of the proposal,” said Danel Lang.
She called on the community to consider their own needs, and if those are met, ask themselves why they are standing in the way of others meeting their needs.
Anita Hallewas, also in support of the development, said that when she bought her home in the area 12 years ago she knew the green space across the street wouldn’t remain that way.
“When you buy into a neighbourhood and see empty land, it is going to be developed,” she said, adding that she believes this proposal is superior to a development of 45 single family homes allowed by the zoning that wouldn’t require community consultation.
With the public hearing complete, city councillors will not be reading any more letters or listening to any more opinions on the matter.
They will be voting on whether or not to approve the amendments to the Zoning Bylaw and Official Community Plan that would allow this development to move forward at their meeting on Sept. 22.