Northland Properties, the owner of Revelstoke Mountain Resort, is a business partner in the Revelstoke Adventure Park, a proposed summer tourist outdoor adventure centre that wants to offer amenities like lift-accessed mountain biking, climbing, bungee jumping, camping and other amenities in the Greeley area on the north side of Mount Mackenzie.
The partnership between Northland Properties and Revelstoke Adventure Park (RAP) was not featured in a media release about the proposed summer tourist attraction when it was publicly announced in late January. This story builds on our first introductory story.
Northland’s involvement in the summer tourist park on the north side of Mount Mackenzie is causing concern in Revelstoke city hall that the owners of Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) are shifting summer tourist development away from the base area of RMR on the south side of Mount Mackenzie, which is within city limits, to an area in the Columbia–Shuswap Regional District outside of city limits.
City planning director John Guenther said the shift away from the RMR base was a “big concern. It affects the [controlled] recreational area (CRA).”
Locating summer activities outside of the city would have many implications for the city, including a loss of potential tax base if business moves outside city limits.
“I think one of the biggest challenges we would have is jurisdictional control,” Guenther told the Times Review in an April 25 interview. “These kinds of things you don’t want to have on the edge of your boundary without land use control.”
In response to the Revelstoke Adventure Park proposal, in late March city council agreed to send a letter to referral agency Front Counter BC. The letter asked for extensive background studies, public engagement, environmental review, traffic review, a look into impacts on city services such as fire and police, and infrastructure studies. The letter also expressed a need for a look at jurisdictional control, including the possibility of boundary expansion.
“There’s always risks involved in boundary expansion,” Guenther said, noting it has benefits and liabilities. “Does the city want enough control over that area because the impacts on the city is going to be extensive enough that the city needs to have land use controls in the area? That’s the question.”
Mayor David Raven said the city has explored the possibility of extending the boundary into the Greeley watershed in the past, but it has its downsides. “The expansion of city boundaries out there would include an awful lot of obligations. It’s not necessarily a money maker for the city.”
Raven said boundary expansion to include Revelstoke Adventure Park wasn’t likely: “It’s not on the table at this time.”
Revelstoke resident Jason Roe is the spokesperson for the Revelstoke Adventure Park proposal. Roe, who is originally from Ontario, invested in several properties and businesses in the Revelstoke area along with his brother Brydon. In 2007, they started purchasing investment properties, perhaps most notably the Powder Springs Inn. Jason explained himself and his brother wanted to fulfill a lifelong dream to live in the mountains.
Jason Roe will manage the Revelstoke Adventure Park property through his company Black Tie Properties. However, Illecillewaet Development Inc. owns the property.
Jason Roe explained the company’s structure is a product of history. In its heyday before the recession starting in 2008, RMR was slated to be a massive development, and the Roe brothers hoped to develop a second base on the north side of the mountain, so they purchased land there.
“The reality is the economy bombed,” Roe said. A future ski expansion is “30 years out” at this point, he said. Now, they’re proceeding with a scaled-back development focusing on summer tourism.
Bob Young is Black Tie Properties’ financial backer in the RAP project. According to his Wikipedia page, Young is a “serial entrepreneur” who made it big in the computer business, developing and serving as CEO of Red Hat Inc., an open-source software company. He’s since been involved in other Internet companies, and is also the current owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Canadian Football League franchise.
Jason Roe explained he was in business with Young in Ontario, serving as a contractor for him in the real estate business.
Roe said the partnership with RMR was essential – the RAP proposal plans to extensively use lands within RMR’s ‘controlled recreation area.’ “They are 100 per cent behind this,” Roe said. “They see this as a start to their summer expansion; their four seasons. It is purely beneficial to the resort.”
At an April 9 presentation to Revelstoke city council, Roe addressed questions from Mayor David Raven, who wanted to know more about the partnership. He noted the city had difficulties as the ownership of RMR changed after the 2008 recession. Who would the city be dealing with?
“Me,” Roe told council.
Although Bob Young and Tom Gaglardi are partners in Illecillewaet Development Inc., the business terms of that partnership aren’t public.
Graham Rennie is the President of Northland Asset Management, which is the parent company of RMR, and he is often the public face of the company in dealings at the Revelstoke level.
He said from RMR’s perspective, the partnership to develop the Revelstoke Adventure Park takes advantage of two key benefits.
The first is “capital,” Rennie said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do on the ski side. I think there’s an appetite for summer activities and we want to take advantage of that opportunity. It’s advancing the cause in the most cost-effective and visible way that we can.”
The second is the location. Greeley is adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway, which is swollen with tourist traffic in the summer.
“It makes the most sense to put them in the highest visibility, highest proximity location. When we look at mountain biking, we think that the highway traffic is a huge advantage to that kind of venture being on that side of the mountain,” Rennie told the Times Review. “It also meets and helps satisfy the year-round activities and getting the resort lands better utilized and more effectively utilized.”
Rennie said that didn’t mean that RMR wasn’t giving up on plans for mountain biking or other summer activities on the base side, just that they were on the back-burner while RMR continues to develop their winter business. He gave examples of several winter projects, such as trail improvements, being done this summer. Rennie also said there was no immediate plan to move forward with the golf course.
“I think the focus right now for RMR and its resources is to make the [winter] slope-side a much better mountain,” he said.
Revelstoke Mountain Resort, like other ski resorts in B.C., is overseen by the Mountain Resorts Branch, an office within the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. They are also bound by agreements with the ministry, the city and other partners. A senior manager in the branch said they couldn’t comment on the RAP application because it is in the referral stage.
Harry Mitchell is the Authorizations Manager for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
“This is new territory,” Mitchell said in an interview. His department hadn’t seen a similar overlapping application before, and said his ministry still had research to do. Mitchell declined to put a time-frame on the ministry’s decision about the application.
Correction: An earlier version of this article included the wrong title for Graham Rennie. We have corrected the article to include his proper role with Northland Asset Management.
Embedded below is the Revelstoke Adventure Park management plan, which was submitted in January by the proponents for review by the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations for review.