Revelstoke Year in Review – October to December

A look back at Revelstoke's biggest news stories from October to December 2016.

The Miracle on Mackenzie brought out seemingly every young child and their parents to Grizzly Plaza in December.

October 5

Local guide proposes alpine hut network in Monashee Mountains

A Revelstoke mountain guide is proposing to build three new huts in the Monashee Mountains south of town that would enable people to go on hut-to-hut hiking, mountaineering and mountain biking trips.

Goldrange Alpine, which is run by Jeff Bellis, filed a Crown land application to build three huts in the Gold Range. One would be near Cranberry Mountain, one near Gates Peak and one near Mount Odin. The huts would be accessed via trails that would extend up mountain valleys from nearby logging roads.

“I grew up in Revelstoke and I love cruising around the mountains,” said Bellis. “I’ve been to Europe and it’s awesome to be able to go hut to hut without carrying all your gear.”

October 12

The Pipe results in ‘Off the hook’ tourism numbers

For years, one of the big debates in Revelstoke has been, “How do we get people off the highway?” Thousands of people drive through town on the Trans-Canada Highway every day, but most of them either zip on by, or don’t make it past the railway overpass on Victoria Road.

All sorts of ideas have been proposed but, it turns out, Revelstoke Mountain Resort found the answer: The Pipe, a three minute coaster ride down the lower portion of the resort.

“We’ve already passed 100,000 unique visits for summer operations this year,” said Peter Nielsen, RMR’s vice-president of operations. “We’re more than double our projection for year one.”

To say The Pipe has been a success is an understatement. The video preview drew millions of eyeballs and those views turned into visitors. People drove to Revelstoke to ride the coaster, and were willing to wait for hours for the fast ride through the trees and open slopes on the lower mountain.

October 19

Photo: RCMP officers dressed in camouflage gather outside the Revelstoke detachment before deploying Wednesday morning. ~ By Mike Thomas

The manhunt

Christine Christensen was at her home in Johnson Heights with her baby boy when she noticed something was going on.

“There was a helicopter at about four o’clock until 5:30, 6,” she told me. “It was swooping around. You could see where it was trying to spot the highway. You knew something was up because they usually don’t sit that close.”

What she and most others didn’t know then was that a major search was going on east of Revelstoke for a man wanted in connection with a murder in Saskatchewan and the shooting of a police officer near Golden.

It ended 18 hours later, with the suspect Sheldon Kyle Thunderblanket, 40, found dead east of town, following a harrowing series of events that left one person dead and at least two others injured.

October 26

Parks Canada to demolish Glacier Park Lodge

A lengthy legal battle over Glacier Park Lodge ended last week with the news that Parks Canada is assuming control of the 54-year-old building and will be tearing it down.

“I think all of us are pleased to have found a path forward that is satisfactory to all the parties that are involved as it relates to the question of management responsibility for the structure as well as addressing outstanding legal matters that exist relating to Parks Canada,” said Nick Irving, the superintendent of Glacier National Park.

The iconic hotel has been closed since September 2012 and has been boarded up ever since. The neighbouring gas station has been shut since 2009.

November 2

RCMP not responsible for death of Thunderblanket, IIO says

There is no connection between police actions and the death of a man near Revelstoke, the Independent Investigation Office concluded.

Sheldon Kyle Thunderblanket was found dead east of town on Wednesday, Oct. 12, following an extensive manhunt.

He died as a result of trauma to the head after he fell and hit a rock while fleeing police, the IIO reported Friday afternoon.

Thunderblanket was wanted in connection with the shooting of two women in Saskatchewan that left one dead the night of Oct. 10, and the shooting of a police officer at a road stop near Golden, B.C. on Oct. 11.

Council supports five-year tax break for Mountain View re-development

Revelstoke council agreed to give the developer of Mountain View Elementary five years of tax relief, but turned down other concessions requested by Gareth Jones.

Jones is looking to turn the heritage school building into a mix of craft distillery, restaurant, medical clinic, and private apartment.

His application for re-zoning and a Heritage Revitalization Agreement (HRA) went in front of council on Tuesday, Oct. 25, for the first time.

The re-zoning will switch the property to commercial from institutional, while the HRA dictates the allowable uses for the building and provides for protection of its heritage values.

“I think doing the five years tax free is a good incentive that we can do,” said Mayor Mark McKee. “I think it’s coming up with a balance of what’s acceptable to the developer, the business community that is already paying taxes, and to some extent what the residential taxpayers feel about it.”

Photo: Second World War veteran John Augustyn is escorted by Helen Grace during this November’s Remembrance Day ceremony. ~ Photo by Sarah Mickel

Nov 23

Report raises questions about city’s ability to fund infrastructure

The development of Mackenzie Village could force the City of Revelstoke to accelerate several key infrastructure projects and will put significant pressure on city finances, says a new report by the city’s director of engineering.

“While new growth is often seen as a net benefit to a community, a development of this size in a community the size of Revelstoke should be approached with caution and awareness of the positive and negative risks that could result,” writes Mike Thomas in a 10-page report to council. “The proposed infrastructure upgrades required to service this and similar development may have an impact on the city’s finances through changed priorities, accelerated construction programs and the need to borrow funds against future development revenue.”

The report includes several alarming figures, including the fact the city will have to spend an estimated $34 million to upgrade the sewage treatment plant to meet future demand on the system.

As well, the city is faced with almost $54 million in total Development Cost Charge projects over the next 15 years, with little in the way of reserves.

November 30

Council approves Mackenzie Village development

The major Mackenzie Village development is a go after council adopted the zoning for the property and approved the Master Development Agreement last Tuesday.

“We’re very pleased the re-zoning bylaw’s been adopted,” said developer David Evans following council’s vote on Nov. 22. “Despite all the negative maelstrom that’s been going around recently, we’re excited to get going.”

David & Shelley Evans are planning to build a medium-density development that could include almost 1,200 units on a 35-acre property in Arrow Heights.

The vote means they can move forward on the first phase of the development once engineers sign off on the plans and building permits are issued. David says they hope to break ground in the spring.

“We have plans in good development for phase one, and we’re intending to start on the consolidation of the property and the subsequent sub-division of phase one, and be in place to get a

building permit and development permit as soon as possible so we can break ground at the end of March, beginning of April,” he told the Review.

Photo: Mount Begbie Brewery moved into its new facility in Johnson Heights this year. The new brewery is bigger, cleaner, newer and will allow the brewery to increase its production by two-thirds.

December 7

Snowmobile Club past presidents come out for opening of new welcoming centre

The first ceremony was for the politicians. This one was for the presidents.

The Revelstoke Snowmobile Club held the official opening for its new welcoming centre on Saturday, part of its opening weekend festivities that included its major fundraising dinner at the Hillcrest Hotel on Friday night.

An open house was held so sledders could tour the new building, which includes a reception area, ticket desk, meeting room and maintenance facility for the groomers.

December 14

Driver survives crash after being pinned against utility pole

A man escaped with his life after a serious crash that closed the Trans-Canada Highway for seven hours on Sunday.

The crash happened 14 kilometres west of Revelstoke on Dec. 11 at around 3 p.m. Cpl. Thomas Blakney of the Revelstoke RCMP said a westbound tractor-trailer from Manitoba crossed the centre line and collided with an eastbound car from Alberta, driving it into the utility pole that held up the variable speed limit sign.

The car folded around the pole and was pinned there, said Blakney. Revelstoke Fire Rescue Services attended the scene and cut open the car to extract the driver.

“Unbelievably, the driver was extracted from the vehicle and, from my understanding, walked away from the scene and got into an ambulance with minimal assistance,” said Blakney.

 

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