Revelstoke RE/MAX has called for more to be done by city council to alleviate the ongoing housing crisis in the city.
During a presentation to City Council on Tuesday, RE/MAX Revelstoke sales representative Todd Arthurs spoke to council about concerns regarding the current slow process of acquiring building permits throughout the city.
As Revelstoke continues to grow, Arthurs said the city needs to streamline the process to accommodate development.
“The issues aren’t going away. Like it or not, Revelstoke is on the map. It’s getting busier all the time,” said Arthurs. “The only thing that’s stopping Revelstoke from booming, is Revelstoke itself. Let’s embrace the opportunities while we can.”
With current prices of existing housing options in Revelstoke increasing, Arthurs said development is crucial to accommodate growth.
As supply and demand market forces would play a role, according to Arthurs, more options would mean more affordable housing in the city.
However, Arthur’s said the current process is causing missed opportunities due to long wait times for development approval, adding that current responses to realtor or client requests from the city can take anywhere from six days to six weeks.
Revelstoke has experienced an ongoing upward trend in development service over previous years, with last years building permit construction values total landing at $30,324,000. This value was up 57 per cent from 2016 and 102 per cent when compared to 2015, according to Arthurs.
During his presentation, Arthurs mentioned that the current development process has directly affected his business, as clients are unwilling to wait long periods for permits to be approved.
A letter sent to council by RE/MAX dated April 12, 2018 held similar sentiments, stating that “Every realtor could provide examples of potential buyers going to another community because they cannot find or afford homes in Revelstoke, this is happening more and more often.”
Arthurs said in his presentation that the effects caused by the shortcomings of the Revelstoke development process has had economic impacts beyond the realty world.
“Revelstoke’s planning and development environment has been less than ideal for years, but it appears to be broken now. It needs to be fixed — a fresh approach has to happen immediately,” said Arthurs. “This is hurting our local economy, virtually everyone is affected, and the reputation of Revelstoke as not being open for business is unfortunately getting out there.”
With more affordable housing prices, Arthurs said Revelstoke’s economy would benefit, as businesses would attract more employees.
As a solution, Arthurs recommended that council consider supporting an independent task-force to analyze and streamline the city’s development process. He also recommended short term solutions be put into practice to accommodate the ongoing demand in the meantime.
In response, mayor Mark McKee assured Arthurs that making adjustments to the development process is an ongoing priority of the council, however no new ideas have been presented.
“It’s easy to rattle off a whole bunch of ideas, and believe me, all of the ideas have been looked at—they’ve been recognized,” said McKee. “And we want the situation to be different, but it’s not just snap your fingers and it’s different.”
McKee said that bringing in a consultant and task-force to look into streamlining the process would also mean taking city staff away from the current applications they are working to get through.
Hiring additional staff to work through the process, McKee said, has also been difficult to accomplish.
“Having a conversation, I have no problem with it. The idea of bringing in extra help, we don’t have a problem with that,” said McKee. “It’s just getting it to become a reality we have a problem with.”
Councillor Scott Duke echoed Mayor McKee’s sentiments, as he said they are conscious of the development shortcomings in the city and working towards finding an accomplishable solution.
“The reality is we’re not doing the job we need to do, and that sits on the shoulders of this council and it sits on the city hall, but we are trying. That’s a reality,” said Duke.
Councillor Aaron Orlando also noted the relevance of the issue Arthurs brought forward.
“Not a day goes by, quite literally, where I don’t stop and talk to a developer or a contractor, somebody who’s doing a reno on their house or trying to build a new house. It’s something that we get feedback on as councillors constantly,” said Orlando. “We’re dealing with a short term issue, and of course that’s not ideal because what’s really needed is long term planning and long term issues.”
Similarly, Councillor Gary Sulz assured Arthurs and the rest of those affected by the current process that their concerns are not going unnoticed.
“One thing I want you and all the other realtors to know, and the contractors in the community, is you are being heard,” said Sulz.