By David F. Rooney
A crowd of more than 238 curious people attended Tuesday night’s open house about the zoning changes for the proposed highway strip mall.
City Development Services Manager Dean Strachan made a 14-minute presentation about the history of the proposed zoning changes
sought by developer Hall Pacific and how the process will now proceed.
Given the angst that has been expressed online you would be forgiven for expecting an enormous turnout by an angry/confused/perplexed/paranoid crowd. For the most part, the crowd that attended was politely curious with a just a tinge of perplexion. The meeting was also very well organized with 300 chairs set out for Strachan’s presentation. Developer Fraser Hall and his Development Manager, Mike Spaull, happily answered questions put to them by the folks who looked at their graphic design presentation at the back of the Multi-Purpose Room. They did not otherwise take questions from the general crowd.
This may have been a bit of a learning opportunity for Hall and Spaull. They had appeared before City Council in September and October when City Council held a public hearing on their request for zoning changes and then voted to approve them during Third Reading. But then everything went sideways. Council rescinded its Third Reading approval after Mayor Mark McKee revealed that some people had continued to try and talk about this issue with members of Council after the period for permissible public comment had been cut off. That’s illegal. City Councils are forbidden from listening to public comment outside the permitted time. Council’s decision to rescind its approval and re-start the process coincided with Revelstoke’s realization that many, many people were confused about what was going on and what it all meant. After City Council wisely rescinded its approval and decided to not only hold a new public hearing (scheduled for Tuesday, November 24) and the just-concluded open house, it directed staff to assemble a paper binder and an online collection of all materials related to the zoning request.
As you’ll be able to see in the 21-minute video below, Strachan goes to some length to explain that this is a procedural process and does not at all mean that Council has approved the project. The Comprehensive Development Zone originally created to facilitate Steve Platt’s plan to build a hotel and conference centre, accompanied by some retail and dining establishments, at the site at the intersection of the Trans-Canada and Highway 23 North already allowed for construction of many, many things. However, a supermarket, pharmacy, health services centre, public assembly and entertainment facility were not specifically allowed under that zoning bylaw. Those are specific things that Fraser Hall asked Council to consider. And it is likely that public misunderstanding of the zoning process as well as the concerns of some local business owners has fed some of the current furor.
Now that more information has been fed to the general public, Council plans to hold another public hearing next Tuesday, November 24, at the Community Centre starting at 7 pm. While 99 comments were left with City staff at the conclusion of Tuesday’s open house, and hundreds have already been collected, all Revelstoke residents are welcome to make sure that Council hears their voices. They can send comments to Council by e-mail or Canada Post or attend next Tuesday’s open house and make an oral submission to Council.
For more information about this process please go to the City website to explore its information package about this issue. Or you can see what opponents of the mall have to say at their website.
You can also hear what former mayor Geoff Battersby thinks about this proposed development during an interview with him on EZ Rock to be posted on The Current and broadcast by EZ Rock at about 7 am on Friday, November 20.
Please activate the YouTube player below to watch The Current’s 21-minute video from Tuesday night’s open house: