By David F. Rooney
Revelstoke City Council has approved a rezoning application for 7.2 hectares of land in the newly annexed Camozzi Road property where David and Shelly Evans plan to develop the Tree House Hotel.
This application was hotly debated during the Tuesday, June 14, Council meeting and was approved by a vote of 6-1 with Mayor Mark McKee the sole opponent.
McKee said that while he is a supporter of the Evans’ Tree House Hotel he fears that certain aspects of their application could undermine the City’s relationship with RMR. While RMR had no plans to purchase and develop the property, McKee said the Evans’ plans might interfere with RMR’s long-term plans.
In a letter to Council, the Evans said they plan to build, for their first phase:
“A single 75-unit hotel building and 25 accommodation pods located at the base of the resort offers a similar number of rooms to other newly constructed and proposed hotels currently in Revelstoke. If 100% capacity (2-4 people per room) is achieved, it would contribute an additional $17,200-$34,400 per day in lift ticket sales (@ $86 per day each). Over an entire ski season (7 days a week for 16 weeks) the accommodation area could contribute $1.9-$3.8 million per year in ticket sales alone directly to the resort. This does not include food, apparel, and other spin off economic benefits that RMR would benefit from.”
Furthermore, they are willing, as noted In Development Services Manager Dean Strachan’s report, to register two covenants. “The applicant has noted this would allow RMR an additional five years without the potential development of 75% of the subject property.
The second request is that the covenant be released after two years if RMR does not submit an update to their Resort Master Development Plan to the Province. The applicant has outlined their rationale for the covenant and the durations within their application submission (see Figure 3) in an effort to address the concerns expressed to Council by RMR in advance of the subject application.”
That sounds benign but Mayor McKee thinks it ultimately is not.
“I have some big concerns about what we are talking about here and its implications,” McKee said. “When I was first approached about the idea of the Tree Hotel I was very supportive. I would rather that we were approving one section of this property as the Tree Hotel.”
McKee said he had no problem approving a 60-to-100 unit hotel. But could not bring himself to approve a development that might ultimately see a number of hotels built on the rest of the property.
He still supports the Tree House Hotel — and has said so to RMR — but not the application as it stands now.
The Evans said in their letter that they are willing to include a covenant that would prevent them from doing any more development with the rest of the property for five years years.
Although McKee is the figure on Council who has the most experience in business and government the rest did not see things his way. Even Linda Nixon, regarded by some as the least business-oriented person on Council, took a lasses-faire attitude. “I respect RMR and all they do for Revelstoke… (but) I feel other people saw this piece of land and saw its potential,” she said, adding that “this is a democratic society and that piece of land was sitting there” implying, perhaps, that an element of snooze-you-lose rose to the surface once the Evans bought it and decided to develop it. She said she’d like to see the Evans sit down in a room with RMR and negotiate a solution.
Both Councillors Connie Brothers and Gary Sulz said the City needs to hear what RMR’s position is. That may well be true but they, like the rest of Council, also voted to approve the Evans’ application.
“This is not about who… we’re supporting and who we’re not supporting,” Brothers said. “We’re looking at what’s best for this community. We all recognize that RMR is fundamental to this community. We need to have a relationship with RMR and we need to work with RMR. On the other hand we can’t stop over all development. We have to move forward. Let’s put this through then let’s hear from RMR.”
If RMR thinks this will impact their future development then, she said, Council would like to hear the resort say that.
Please click here to see the Council agenda and, under 181-239 g, the Evans’ letter and nine other documents and maps related to their application.
Please activate the YouTube player below to watch Council’s discussion of this issue. That discussion begins at the 1:20:11 point on Part One of the video of Council’s Tuesday, June 14, meeting:
It continues on Part Two: