The City of Revelstoke held a public hearing yesterday (April 4) for the potential amendment to a zoning bylaw which would allow Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) to apply for density shifting as they continue to develop their land.
The issue was discussed heavily within council in recent meetings, and on the back of the community and council concerns, RMR held an information session for the public on March 28.
The potential amendment to the bylaw would allow RMR to apply to spread out the density of the more than 16,000-bed units that could be developed at the resort, as outlined in its original Master Development Agreement with the province, in 10 development areas.
At the public hearing, RMR shared what they learned from interacting with the public. A few of the key concerns community members shared were: preferring the assurance of ‘no short-term rentals’ in the community housing lands, environmental concerns pertaining to golf development, resort operations, Turtle Creek, ground water interruption, specific timelines on development projects, and concerns over an increase in traffic along roads adjacent to the resort.
Community members attended the public hearing and wrote letters to share their approval or concerns with council.
“The lack of clarity, detail, and timelines for [RMR’s] developments, in addition to the casual disregard for our community and its residents, dissolved any willingness I held to believe that they are concerned for Revelstoke,” wrote resident Jill Macdonald in a letter to council.
Another resident raised concerns that the density shift would change the character of surrounding neighbourhoods near Airport Way.
“When we bought our property five years ago, we never imagined 200, 400 hotel rooms would be built across the street,” said resident Mike Forrest at the public forum.
Others voiced their support.
“You can’t design something in one year and then expect that 20 years later it still will be relevant, it still will be leading edge, it still will be the thing that people want,” said resident and former mayor Mark McKee in reference to the development of the Revelstoke Mountain Resort Master Plan in 2003.
Residents were also excited to hear that RMR was supportive of a moratorium on future short-term rentals in the Arrow Heights neighbourhood.
“I think it’s the biggest scourge on this town in the last hundred years,” said Robert Powadiuk, who was among the first investors in RMR.
Previously, council and city staff held the belief that if the text to the bylaw was amended, the council would still have the option to deny a density shift as RMR applied.
“We would still need to approve the specific shifts, and if you didn’t like the specific shifts –and you want to talk about them being done right– that is a thing you can vote on when that comes before us,” said Coun. Lee Devlin at a special committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 21.
“It’s very clear in the text of the amending bylaw that it says that it’s still subject to approval by the city,” confirmed city planner Paul Simon in the meeting.
At the public forum on April 4, Revelstoke CAO, Evan Parliament, referenced advice that the city received from their legal advisors, negating council’s original understanding of the amendment as put forward by Devlin and Simon.
“If we go forward as [this bylaw is] proposed, and the text amendment is adopted, council loses its right to revisit where that density transfer goes,” said Parliament. “You heard some comments tonight that it should be the best plan for the community, and that’s what council wants to do,” said Parliament, adding “there’s a concerted effort to find a win-win here.”
When it came time for council to make a decision, Mayor Sulz made a motion to defer a decision on the potential amendment to Zoning Bylaw No. 2346 to a later date. Council unanimously voted in favour of this motion.
Council will now bring the issue back to the table at the next regular council meeting on April 11 to direct staff on what changes to the text amendment they think should be made.