A divided Revelstoke council voted in support of the proposed treehouse hotel development, with a phasing process that would see one-third of the property developed at a time, with a five-year gap between phases.
Councillors Connie Brothers, Trevor English, Linda Nixon, Aaron Orlando and Gary Sulz voted in favour of the proposal, while Mayor Mark McKee and coun. Scott Duke voted against it.
““We could vote this down today and RMR does nothing. We can vote for this and RMR do nothing,” said Nixon during a special council meeting held Wednesday, July 27, at noon. “We have somebody with capital that knocked on our door, and got received by our good staff that worked with him for two years. This was not rushed.
“We have to do what’s best for Revelstoke.”
Mayor McKee said that while he supported the treehouse hotel concept, he felt the entire re-zoning, which allows for multiple hotels to be built on the site, was too much.
“We are giving Mr. (David) Evans what he originally asked for. I think we’re taking a whole bunch of risk by going further than that,” he said.
Wednesday’s vote followed a four hour public hearing Tuesday night.
Evans is proposing to build a treehouse-style hotel on an 18-acre property off Camozzi Road, next to Revelstoke Mountain Resort. He says it would be a unique development that would bring people to town and increase economic development in the community.
RMR has opposed it, calling it a “parasitical development” that would take advantage of infrastructure the resort paid for, while not contributing to the resort. Recently, they have accused Evans of trying to build a second base village that would hurt the resort and downtown Revelstoke; Evans denies those accusations.
The compromise proposal would allow Evans to develop one third of the property to start, one third five years later, and the final third 10 years after that.
Sulz said the compromise will give RMR time to develop before the treehouse hotel reaches full buildout.
“In five years, we’re into 2021, then 2016,” he said. “Have we not allowed enough time for the resort to mature and still allow them to do what they need to do within their current business plan to go forward?
“I think their concerns are alleviated because of the timeline,” he added.
Brothers was critical of RMR for not presenting a plan of their own.
“We don’t know what they plan to develop,” she said. “If we had something on the table that said we have hotel here and we are doing that and Mr. Evans project would impact that, I could have a better understanding of our decision.”
Duke expressed concern about allowing too much development next to the resort while it was still in its infancy.
“The hill is too much in its infancy to know if this is a good idea right now,” he said.
The City of Revelstoke and Evans still need to sign a master development agreement that would set out how the development is built. After that, council will need to give the re-zoning application final adoption before Evans can start construction.
“The intent of an MDA is to ensure there’s a certain level of continuity in a development beyond just the council at hand,” Dean Strachan, the city’s manager of development services, told council. “It ensures things carry past in design from council to council so you don’t get this break. It ensures infrastructure is installed in the first phase that’s going to be adequate for the final phases.”
Evans said he was happy with council’s vote and the phasing agreement. Representatives from RMR left the meeting without speaking to the media. We are awaiting their response.