LETTER: Densification is right, if well thought out

Open letter to Revelstoke city council and OCP planning team:

I am writing to express my frustration and disappointed in the Official Community Plan (OCP) vision, the process or lack thereof around rezoning and the proposed residential developments for both the Hay Road/Grizzly Lane location and the Newlands Road area.

It has been 10 years since the OCP was examined. It is time to do some big adjustments that reflect the reality of Revelstoke living.

In principle, I am absolutely pro densification, but in these cases we are putting the cart before the horse. Literally.

Across the globe, densification planning is built on the premise urban sprawl is to be avoided and densification be a shift to help create enhanced neighbourhoods, human connectedness, a healthier lifestyle through the more efficient use of transportation and other amenities.

Fossil fuel use will decline and healthier neighbourhoods will result. Sounds wonderful.

But in all scenarios globally, the key to everything has been amenities and infrastructure to support this goal. We need to be mindful of climate change focus in planning new developments.

At this time, you have approved a new hotel/staff housing development in the ski hill area, you have a section of land bought by the province on the old Mt. Begbie school site that is slated for densification, there is land available near the old Mountain View school site, the old Columbia Gardens apartment area has also been earmarked for affordable living apartment upgrades.

READ MORE: Province wants Revelstoke’s feedback for affordable housing on former school site

In all these locations, there is sewage, water and nearby grocery stores, restaurants and shops. The exception is the staff housing/hotel at the ski hill.

Where is the perceived lack of affordable housing going to be? I see very few street people.

I know that most seasonal workers are finding accommodation, because where else are they located? It is hard, yes, and maybe not cheap, but most seasonal workers do have a place to live.

I have lived here for over 35 years. What has changed and what concerns me the most is the ignoring of Revelstoke’s infrastructure.

I recognize this is a Canada-wide problem, but if we are to be a successful resort municipality this surely must be the number one guiding factor and focus for our council.

I believe the council’s OCP team should be guided by a principle that asks if we have the infrastructure in place, sewage, sewage treatment, and the amenities that will promote livability and healthier/walkable neighbourhoods?

On Hay Road, where is the second entry/exit point, the sidewalks or trail systems to Arrow Heights Elementary School? Where are the amenities?

Finally, can the present roads and the aging bridge across the Illecilewaet River manage additional traffic? The roads are in atrocious shape, and no amount of patching is going to fix that.

READ MORE: Revelstoke developer asking for community feedback for Hay Rd. proposal

Council, this has to be the number one factor that guides an OCP upgrade. Over the years, there has been a pattern of neighbourhoods shifting up to the Arrow Heights location because of the ski hill development as well as a desire of residents to live in new, modern and efficient homes.

It is clear to me that lack of affordable housing is not the driving factor, but rather development of bare land for development’s sake.

I ask that densification happens in the city core, in the aforementioned locations.

I ask that Arrow Heights remain a single family larger lot size zonal area on both the Hay Road and Newlands Road location.

I ask that the Mackenzie Village remain the only densified area in the Arrow Heights neighbourhood. It is there and not going anywhere.

I ask that council and the OCP team put the horse in front of the cart, and address infrastructure and amenities before they start densifying Revelstoke’s rural neighbourhoods.

READ MORE: Arrow Heights residents create petition against proposed development on Hay Rd.

At this time, it is a neighbourhood without sidewalks, a neighbourhood that is struggling with additional traffic and right now dodging potholes.

Densification is right, if it is well thought out. Maintain a vision for our future.

Catherine Lavelle


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