Revelstoke Advisory Planning Commission discusses Mackenzie Village development

Advisory Planning Commission members worry about Mackenzie Village development having too many vacation rentals in Arrow Heights.

The Advisory Planning Commission discusses the Mackenzie Village proposal in council chambers on Tuesday

The Revelstoke Advisory Planning Commission expressed concern about the potential scope of vacation rentals in the Mackenzie Village development.

“What potentially we could have is a development that goes through over the 12 to 15 years that is all vacation rental,” said commission member Bill MacFarlane. “So what we have there is a neighbourhood within Arrow Heights that is not residential based, but is essentially a transient population.”

MacFarlane spoke at the meeting of the APC on the proposed 1,200 unit Arrow Heights development on Tuesday, Mar. 1.

The developers David & Shelley Evans expect one-third of the units to go to retirees looking to downsize, one-third to families, and the remainder to seasonal workers or second-home owners. The units would range in size from small 360-square-foot apartments to large single-family homes. They would sell for as little as $99,000.

The proposed zoning allows for all units across the 35-acre property to be vacation rentals.

The city is holding a public hearing on the development at the community centre this Tuesday, Mar. 8, at 6 p.m. There will be a one hour open house where people will be able to view the plans and ask questions of the city and the developer, followed by the formal hearing at 7 p.m. As well, Dean Strachan, the city’s manager of development services, said anyone with questions can contact him at city hall.

Third reading of the re-zoning bylaw is scheduled for immediately after the hearing. If approved, it would need to signed-off by the BC Ministry of Transportation before final adoption by council.

Vacation rentals were the main concern of the APC, who made six recommendations to council. MacFarlane hedged his concerns by saying that it wasn’t likely all 1,200 units, would become vacation rentals, but that possibility scared him.

“This potentially has the ability to role out completely as a vacation rental, commercial residence in Arrow Heights that is in direct competition with other hotels in town, including the ski hill,” he said.

MacFarlane’s fears about vacation rentals were echoed by the other five members of the APC. “I’d like to see more restrictions on vacation rentals in this development,” said Cara Armstrong.

Strachan told the APC that if vacation rentals were becoming an issue, council could always go back and amend the zoning to take away that use before all phases are finished.

“You wouldn’t get to phase 10 and buildout and then realize you have an issue,” he said. “To get to 15 years and not realize would be a failure of planning.”

Nathan Weston asked that council look at ways to make vacation rentals contribute to tourism marketing, pointing that a high number of rentals would detract from hotel revenue.

There were other concerns expressed by the APC. MacFarlane said the development didn’t fit with the policies for the Arrow Heights neighbourhood in the Official Community Plan. He pointed to the policy that calls for the city to “manage land use development patterns to encourage permanent residency that minimizes the potential negative impact of significant numbers of vacation homes and residential units.”

The APC also wanted to make sure the city collected sufficient development cost charges (DCCs) to cover future infrastructure needs, such as upgrading the sewer treatment plant and the Illecillewaet bridge.

Other concerns surrounded who would be buying the units, and how the target markets were identified.

One positive that was noted is it would add a significant amount of new housing stock to town. “If this project can move forward and have some single family homes people can afford, it is a big win,” said councillor Scott Duke, who chairs the city’s planning committee and was at the APC meeting.

That commented was seconded by APC member Mike Watson. “One of the reasons I haven’t bought is because of the quality of the houses,” he said.

***

The APC’s recommendations are as follows:

“THAT Council consider the following concerns of the Advisory Planning Commission:

— Concerned that the composition of the Nichol Road development may have a high percentage of vacation rentals, and the potential impact this may have on the community.

— Vacation rentals and the lack of financial contribution to the community (accommodation tax).

— Concerned about how the developer is defining “growth and population” in regards to transient and permanent residence, and how it effects the surrounding neighborhood.

— Concerned about how the target market was defined.

— Concerned that the developers proposal does not relate to the Arrow Heights neighborhood in regards to the OCP, Section “Secondary/Neighborhood Planning”, Sub-Section “Arrow Heights Neighborhood”, “Manage Land use development patterns to encourage permanent residency that minimizes the potential negative impact of significant numbers of vacation homes and residential”.

— Ensure that Development Cost Charges Bylaw is reviewed for this project and how the Bylaw relates to the long term impacts on City infrastructure.”

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