A diagnostic survey has concluded that a boundary extention into South Revelstoke would likely not be supported by the area’s residents.
The South Revelstoke Diagnostic Inventory of Planning, Service Delivery and Governance, conducted by Urban Systems was completed and delivered to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District (CSRD) and the City of Revelstoke on Nov. 6.
Included in the report were results from an online survey, conducted between Sept. 20 and Oct. 10 and comments received during a community meeting on Oct. 4.
“The community engagement process highlighted divisive views on boundary extension both within the City and within the CSRD Electoral Area,” the report says. “The importance of this topic to residents is reflected in the high response to the community engagement efforts that were undertaken as part of this study.”
Nearly 200 study area residents completed the online survey, while more than 300 City of Revelstoke residents completed a more general survey. There were 59 study area residents and 64 City of Revelstoke residents who attended the community meeting at the Revelstoke Community Centre on Oct. 4.
The report acknowledges that some attendees questioned why the study was even taking place.
“Many expressed concern about opening the possibility of boundary extension,” it says.
The question themes from the meeting were summarized in the report, including “the cost and process of connecting to infrastructure services following boundary extension, how study area was defined and who were relevant stakeholders, and land use considerations with or without boundary extension.”
There were two different versions of the survey – one was aimed at the area’s residents, while the other, for City of Revelstoke residents had more general questions. Responses in the report were further categorized as “all responses” and “excluding multiple responses.” The study team identified multiple responses coming from the same IP addresses, but recognized that multiple residents could use the same home computer to fill out the survey and multiple respondents could also use the same public computer to answer the survey.
“However, in other cases, it is known that the same individual completed multiple surveys because they revelaed to the study team that they had done so,” the report says.
Survey respondents were asked to rank their top three priorities for the study area. For area residents, rural lifestyle received the most mentions (99), followed by agricultural land (66) and natural environment (61). However, tourism development was the top first choice, chosen by 39 respondents.
City of Revelstoke respondents ranked environment (215) as their top priority, followed by rural character (173) and recreation (155).
More than half the area and the City’s respondents felt that it was important to keep land in South Revelstoke available for agriculture.
And in both surveys, more than half the respondents did not want to see greater development in South Revelstoke.
The survey asked area residents to ask if they were interested in receiving any services they did not already have.
Just under half said they received everything they wanted, but municipal water, sewer and curbside recycling ranked high. However, more than half the respondents said they would not be willing to pay higher taxes to receive a higher level of service.
The main area that City and area respondent answers differed was relating to whether South Revelstoke was a separate area from the City of Revelstoke.
Fifty-seven per cent of area respondents said they were a separate area, while 55 per cent of City respondents felt the area was “functionally part of the City of Revelstoke.”
The surveys also asked “under what circumstances would it be appropriate for the South Revelstoke Study Area (or a portion of this area) to join the City of Revelstoke?”
The top response by area residents was that there were no circumstances for boundary extension, next most-used response was to support Revelstoke’s growth and development and third most-used response was if community sewer and water were provided.
In the City of Revelstoke’s survey, the top response was also that no circumstances were appropriate for boundary extension, next was if the extension was needed to connect residents to services and third was if the agricultural land could be protected.
“Many Study Area residents feel that the area is different than the City of Revelstoke, they are concerned about potential development impacts, and they feel that the rural are governance system is suitable for the area,” the report concludes. “There are numerous expressed concerns about potential property tax impacts if the area were to become part of the City of Revelstoke.”
The survey also invited comments for certain questions.
Question 11 on the area survey, which asked about the circumstances for boundary extension received the most comments.
“For our property there is no benefit to be in Revelstoke city limits,” says one comment. “Higher taxes for no additional services. The city is poorly managed.”
“Never. Our food security is too important to densify lose farmland,” says another. “Initiatives should be considered to encourage farming here instead of letting rich property owners sit on unproductive land.”
“It is imperative to the City of Revelstoke to promote, foster and encourage growth in the direction that economics are pointing,” says another. “This would most certainly be tourism both at RMR (Revelstoke Mountain Resort) as it exists and more importantly as it would look if infrastructure investment is encourage. The bench needs to be brought into the city and developed in character with the rest of the community. Delaying the inevitable is short-sighted.”
In conclusion, the report encouraged the City of Revelstoke and the CSRD to work together moving forward.
“If the CSRD and the City determine that a formal governance study is warranted in the future,” the report says. “It is recommended that a robust engagement process be undertaken to confirm a preferred option.”