By Claire Paradis
People in Revelstoke are cautiously optimistic and very careful about what they say regarding the reemergence of a development proposal at the Revelstoke Crossing site. They’re not afraid of talking, they’re literally careful. They’re concerned about their neighbours and community, and conscious about the impact that their words may have.
“All of Revelstoke wants to get along. People don’t go to battle unless they feel they have to,” remarked Steven Cross, owner of Revy Outdoors.
It’s clear that no one wants to re-create the divisiveness of the former process, everyone wants to move on to something better.
“I hope all the unhappiness about what happened has registered with the parties involved,” former mayor Geoff Battersby commented.
The impact on the community of Revelstoke from the last development proposed by Fraser Hall is still obvious: it was a painful, divisive period that taught people hard lessons.
“All the controversy and bad feelings I definitely don’t like,” long-time Revelstoke citizen Kurt Pont told The Current. “It was a real learning process, there’s no two ways about it.”
Pharmasave’s Steven Hui agreed the last proposed development was an education for himself and the community as well as City Council and staff.
One of the lessons learned was that public consultation is key with any large proposal, and the developers need to make themselves available to the community.
“There was a real lack of information about the background of the developers last time,” said Battersby. “The information was very scant, and in terms of them doing developments of this size, it didn’t seem to be the case.”
“The community wants familiarity and comfort with who comes to develop it. It raises concerns if there’s no information about the development or the developers,” Hui pointed out.
The pharmacist said another lesson is to be sensitive to the needs of the community: “As a business community we have some shortcomings. We need to accommodate locals.” Hui sees the transition to a tourist economy, but he knows he can’t put out only tourist products, locals also need to be a priority.
But Revelstoke is a tourist destination with tourism needs and for all the muck that was stirred up, people are still open to the possibility of new development. Hotels particularly. Cross, Battersby, Pont and Hui all agree that another hotel would be welcome, as long as it brought people into town.
“Assuming they came back with a hotel, it would be a step in the right direction,” said Cross, “but highway development won’t bring people downtown.” Cross said he’s heard from people living in communities where a highway-side mall killed the downtown core. “Revelstoke is no different.”
And even a hotel development would need to be done right.
“It has to be done properly, has to be tasteful, and according to the OCP,” stated Pont.
Cross agrees: “It would be good to do something interesting that would raise the profile of Revelstoke, something like Three Valley Gap where they’ve created ‘visual interest.’” The local business owner suggested something like a chairlift or gondola from the highway development to downtown to make it something people talk about. “Revelstoke deserves something great.”
And everyone is interested to see what will happen next, how the lessons learned will be implemented.
“It sounds like it’s moving along in the right direction,” Cross commented, “hopefully it’s something with vision.”
Battersby was also sanguine: “I think the City has developed a process for handling applications of this scale. Time will tell if this is the case.”
“I’m very interested,” said Hui, “but until it’s ink and paper, it’s just hypothetical.
“We’re willing to look at it objectively. Hopefully the developer is available to answer questions. And there will be some hard questions.”