By Lachlan Labere, Black Press
A public information meeting for the proposed Revelstoke Crossing shopping mall and related zoning amendments has been scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 17, at the Community Centre.
A City of Revelstoke media release states the meeting, to begin at 7 p.m., will include a presentation by city development services manager Dean Strachan. Staff and the representatives of the proponent, Vancouver-based Hall Pacific, will also be answering questions from the public relating to the proposed comprehensive development zone and related amendments.
“We recognize the community’s need for additional information with respect to the zoning amendment on the highway,” says Mayor Mark McKee. “The addition of a public information meeting will serve to give the community a better understanding of what the zoning amendment entails.”
The Nov. 17 information meeting follows council’s decision, made at its Oct. 27 meeting, to rescind third reading of bylaw 2088. This was done after it was revealed individual councillors may have received relevant public input after the public hearing and before final reading.
To make sure you’re ready for the meeting, city hall released more than 500 pages of documents about the development. The bulk of the release is a package of council reports including:
— Reports to council on the re-zoning;
— Staff responses to 41 questions submitted by council;
— The 2006 Revelstoke Retail Strategy;
— The 2015 Business Retention & Expansion Study;
— Studies on small town development and planning;
— A report by the Chamber of Commerce on the highway development;
— A project rationale by the proponent Hall Pacific;
— A report on retail development in Salmon Arm and Merritt by Alan Mason, the city’s director of economic development.
Copies of advertisements, submissions to the public hearing and more are also available.
Subsequent to the information meeting, a special council meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 24, during which council will hold a second public hearing for the zoning amendments. This will also take place at the community centre and start at 7 p.m., and is the opportunity to make formal submissions to council.
At council on Tuesday, Connie Brothers attempted to have the public hearing and third reading delayed until January, however her motion we defeated.
The development has been very controversial, with a majority of submissions at a previous public hearing opposing it. There has been speculation that a “silent majority” of residents who desire more competition in retail support the development.
Meanwhile, a group opposed to the development has taken out a two-page ad in the Review and set up the website RevelstokeRezoning.ca to express their opposition and provide an avenue for people to provide feedback.
While critical of the proposed development, Revelstoke resident and businessman Steven Cross says council made the right decision to rescind third reading, and he is hopeful the open house and public hearings will help give residents a better understanding of what’s being proposed and what, in his view, is at stake. He is also hopeful that in reconsidering the proposed mall, council will consider the longterm ramifications of perimeter development on in-town businesses and the community as a whole.
“You can list benefits and it all sounds good, but where’s the critical thinking about those benefits and the reality of whether they’re going to happen,” said Cross. “Where’s the other side of the coin, where there’s been literally hundreds of studies done in towns all over North America that show perimeter development of this type is not good for a small town.”
Cross’ business, Revy Outdoors, and others recently “blacked-out” their front windows to highlight this concern. He says they welcome competition and development, so long as it’s a good fit for the community – such as what’s laid out in the official community plan.
“Since 1986, Revelstoke’s official community plan, which was crafted with a lot of thought, research and input, has the emphasis on in-town development,” said Cross. “The reason for that is to create a unique mountain town experience for visitors and to build a vibrant tourist trade around the activites that are here, the ski mountain, and just life in a small town. So that has been very successful…”
At the previous public hearing, Fraser Hall of Hall Pacific said the project would generate $20 million in direct economic activity for Revelstoke, increase the commercial property tax base by $500,000, and create 200 short-term construction jobs and 200 long-term service jobs.
While the majority of written submissions and public presentations were opposed to the proposal and related amendments, council later passed third reading with Couns. Aaron Orlando and Connie Brothers opposed.
Anyone wishing to provide written submissions for the Nov. 24 public hearing can do so by dropping them off with the city’s administration department at 216 Mackenzie Ave., or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions must be made before noon on Tuesday, Nov. 24.
With reporting from Alex Cooper, Revelstoke Review