Is the Mackenzie Meadows development a recipe for disaster?

To the Editor:

I applaud the Evans’ spirit of sustainability and compliance with Revelstoke’s OCP plan concept in the Mackenzie Meadows area of Arrow Heights.  However, even building the proposed smaller (1,100 some units down from almost 1600) development over a decade or so, is just way too much for the established community to adapt to in my opinion.

But, what could be the problem with responsible local development designed to fit in as well as possible with the lower density single family dwelling neighbourhood surrounding the meadows?  Nothing — it’s just too big.

Why would anyone think that?  Isn’t it wonderful that someone with big, fresh, sustainable development ideas could imagine plopping down such a fancy sub-division that can offer newly built homes for much, much less investment than is normally required to own a home here so their application argues.

Well, yes — if you’re looking to relocate to Revelstoke.  And, maybe yes — if you are fortunate enough to be in construction and hired steadily during the construction phase.  But, not so much if you’ve already upgraded existing buildings or built new homes that depend on sale price or rental income to make those long-term investments mature.

I believe the City would be wise to encourage residential construction in a variety of locations by stopping one development from preemptively gobbling up the lion’s share of the near future’s residential construction market.

Horrors!  Could a free enterprise, business-friendly town dare to demand lower density in a bright shiny new development just because it honours the investments that its townspeople have made over the last decade or so to take advantage of the increased housing demand as we became a resort community?

In my mind, it could!  They’ve borne the pain and I would argue have earned our respect so deserve to share in the gain when it comes. And nothing but good could come from insisting the number of residential units in the new development be limited to some amount (600 perhaps?) that is proportionate to the available roads, emergency services, water, utilities, sewage treatment capability and everything else that the new Arrow Heights development will benefit from using.

That would leave some future capacity available to all the local contractors and builders who have contributed so much already to this town.  There are quite a few sites where energy efficient, economical apartments or staggered row housing could be built. And when the Big Eddy water connection is done and building can resume its course, the pool of land available for development will increase even further.

The huge anticipated revenue from DCCs and taxes on the fully built Mackenzie Village may blind Council, but I hope not, since this rush to rezone so construction can start this summer makes me leery that we have failed to do our homework and merely succumbed to the lure of the dazzling promotional materials offered.

Huge changes don’t happen in a vacuum — I believe Council has a duty to explore the social ramifications of approving this rezoning. Has the Social Development Coordinator a perspective and some data to offer? I wish the city had posted the seven studies done by the proponent so people could read them well in advance of the public hearing in early March but perhaps they’ll be on the website soon.

Let’s think about what we’re getting into so there’s no moaning and groaning after it’s a done deal.

Victoria Long
Revelstoke, BC