Last week city council approved “in principal” the development of a new hotel and conference centre at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
Though the development permit application is incomplete, the planning department brought the project before council to be approved “in principal” at the Jan. 22 council meeting.
Before issuing the permit, the project will be brought before council again for final approval.
At the same meeting, Peter Nielson, vice president of operations for the resort, announced the resorts intentions to begin construction of staff accommodation alongside construction of the new hotel.
The master development agreement for the resort requires that once they reach a capacity of 1,200 beds they are required to provide staff accommodation, they are not there yet but are intending on beginning construction anyway, Nielson said.
“Our intention would be to start the hotel and take advantage of the efficiencies of that construction to build a much quicker build,” he explained, adding that we will likely see staff accommodation completed before the hotel itself is completed.
Council was legally unable to tie approval of the development permit to delivering staff accommodation, however, they made a separate motion requesting that city staff work with the resort on creating staff accommodation.
As for the hotel project itself, councillors expressed concern for the owners of the neighbouring property, questioning noise management and other effects the eight story building would have on the residents living next door.
Daniel Sturgeon, a planner for the city, said that a noise report still had to be done as part of the development permit application but that the resort had offered to limit loading times in order to attempt to decrease noise pollution.
Steven Cross, councillor, called approving the permit that will fundamentally change the Bowen’s property, which is right next door, a “moral bankrupt decision”.
Council was also concerned about the change in location of the hotel from the original resort development plan, however, Wade said that the resort has the ability to diverge from the original as it was merely conceptual and not binding.
Heidi Bowen, neighbouring property owner, also raised concerns about the changes to the master plan in a letter that was a late addition to the agenda.
However, the bulk of the conversation at the council table revolved around the reasoning behind approving a project “in principal” and why it was even brought forward in the first place.
“For me this is just a tragedy of good things happening and unintended consequences,” said Cross. “I see two things I am very concerned about in terms of fairness. One is this Bowen property being impacted so much by such a large structure that I believe, in my heart, they did not, when they bought the property, anticipate…And I see another tragedy, I see RMR who wants to get going, we’re being asked to improve in principal, so how long does this ‘in principal’ process mean? Because my experience with development permits, albeit limited, suggests that a development permit is always contingent on meeting the things we are listing in here, so why are we gating it twice?”
Councillor Rob Elliott echoed these sentiments saying the process seemed like another delay for the resort.
On the other hand, Nicole Cherlet, councillor, said she was grateful to see the project at this stage, because she has seen previous projects come before past councils at such a late stage that there were no options to change anything.
“Legally speaking ‘in principal’ doesn’t mean a whole lot,” said Allan Chabot, CAO for the city. “I think as a promise to the community and to the resort, it means something.”
Development services director, Marianne Wade, said that she believes bringing high budget projects such as this one to council for approval ‘in principal’ is best practice and is done in many places across the province.
In the end council voted to approve the project “in principal”. Once the application is complete, which will include a riparian assessment report, a survey and site grading plan, a revised landscaping plan, a storm-water management plan, a noise impact assessment and a snow-shed and snow storage plan, it will once again be brought before council for final approval and the issuance of the development permit.