Revelstoke Adventure Park, the proposal for a large outdoor adventure park in the Greeley area near Revelstoke, has been dealt a blow after provincial authorities rejected the proponent’s application last week.
However, RAP spokesperson Jason Roe said the development group will continue on with the development concept after they get an opportunity to assess in detail the reasons why the application was rejected. Roe said their avenues could include a revision, re-submission or an appeal, but it was too early to say since he is still gathering information on the reasons for the rejection.
“I don’t have all the information,” Roe told the Times Review, saying he’d just heard the news last week. He said having issues red-flagged is “part of the process.”
Nine issues have been identified by provincial authorities, Roe said. They include issues such as First Nations consultations, roadway engineering, highway access and egress, and proximity to (and some overlap with) the Revelstoke watershed in the Greeley area.
“We never expected we were going to get a rubber stamp,” Roe said. He added several of the issues were anticipated. “We feel confident we will be able to mitigate those reasons.”
For example, Roe said engineering concerns about the roadway could be worked out, and that surveys and studies required as part of First Nations consultations were foreseen.
However, Roe said he was surprised by the City of Revelstoke’s plans to explore possible annexation of the area, including the adjacent Greeley Creek watershed. City staff and politicians have sent mixed messages about the expansion since the RAP proposal became public in early 2013. The city declared its intention to study annexation in a letter to provincial officials in early June, although just weeks before Mayor David Raven had said the city had abandoned the idea.
Roe said several of the concerns expressed by the ministry reflected those expressed in the city’s letter.
“We are going to have to talk to the city,” Roe said. “The CSRD were unaware of the boundary expansion request.”
Adding another layer of complexity is the Revelstoke Mountain Resort Master Development Agreement, a multi-party agreement between the province, the City of Revelstoke and Revelstoke Mountain Resort that lays out the rules for resort development.
“There is some concern also about the master development agreement,” Roe said. The ownership group of the RAP also includes overlap with the Revelstoke Mountain Resort owners, although the business terms aren’t public knowledge.
The news of the RAP’s rejection came as a result of Times Review inquiries with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. The official documents outlining the reasons for rejection have yet to be posted on that ministry’s website, but are anticipated soon.
Ministry denies watershed protection claim
The B.C. Forests ministry spokesperson told the Times Review that ministry staff have been unable to locate documents backing up a watershed protection advocate’s claim that historic protection tenure covering the Greeley and Dolan watersheds somehow disappeared.
In a July 12 email, a ministry spokesperson said there was an absence of “basis” for claims that the watersheds had lost the protected status. The spokesperson said they couldn’t find “any evidence” the protected status existed.
The spokesperson said all watersheds have other levels of protection by law.
B.C. Tap Water Alliance (BCTWA) spokesperson Will Koop sent a letter to Revelstoke City Council in June, asking for an exploration of the watershed tenure status. City Council resolved to explore the issue by gathering information, including a request to provincial authorities.
In an interview with the Times Review, Koop insisted the tenure did once exist, pointing to historical documents he provided.
Koop’s BCTWA focuses on long-term history, and often takes a political view; their media releases attack the B.C. Liberals by name.
The BCTWA has been engaged in a decades-long struggle with successive governments over watershed management issues, with the BCTWA advocating for zero-use, park-like protection policies in watersheds, while provincial authorities seek to allow some ongoing commercial activities.
At their June 25 meeting, council did respond to the BCTWA’s request by querying the province about tenure protection. That line of inquiry may shed more light on the nuanced history of the Greeley and other local watersheds.
The ministry also responded to the Times Review’s request about the status of a large alpine skiing tenure in the heart of the Greeley watershed. A Forests ministry spokesperson said the tenure was a “buffer” put in place by Revelstoke Mountain Resort to serve notice to others contemplating use of the area, and that the resort hadn’t registered any plans to use the area on the back side of Mount Mackenzie for skiing operations. He advised the resort may explore plans in the future.
Koop is soon releasing a book about the history of watershed protection, including a focus on the history of Big Eddy watershed protection issues. He likened the Greeley protection issue to a marriage, saying the province has lost the marriage license. “The very information that protects [the marriage] it is not there,” he said.
Online update, July 19, 2012
Ministry cites water concern, but proponent insists application outside watershed
Since this story was published in our July 17 print edition, the B.C. Government’s Integrated Land Management Bureau published their ‘reasons for decision’ on the RAP proposal.
Amongst other concerns, the ILMB decision said the proposal was disallowed because it is in “steep, rugged terrain next to the Greeley Creek Community Watershed, which is the primary source of water for the City of Revelstoke. The current proposal poses and unacceptable level of risk to terrain stability and drinking water.”
In a subsequent phone call and emails with proponent Jason Roe, he said the ministry’s claim of overlap with the watershed was not true. He forwarded the Times Review maps of the proposal and existing watershed boundaries, saying they showed the boundary of the proposed park was several hundred metres downslope from the boundary of Greeley Creek’s drainage area. Roe underscored that the proposal does not physically infringe on the watershed.
Read the Integrated Land Management Bureau’s reasons for decision here: