This is a situation where we risk only seeing the trees – or rather the tree tops – and don’t fully consider what we will permit to grow all around them in the future.
When the Applicant requested to have 18 acres of his property at the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort brought into City boundaries he said he wanted to build a boutique hotel featuring 20 tree-hung lodging pods. Now he has requested his remaining 39 acres be annexed as well and is seeking ‘Comprehensive Development’ rezoning for his tree-house hotel. Except now the 20-pod tree top hotel has grown to `the potential for a couple hotel buildings in there – three or four or more.’ If an entire 18 acres is rezoned, there could be, at any point in the future, almost anything built there. It could be a whole new village center, several hotels (as the Applicant has already admitted), homes, multi-family dwellings and even retail – one that could draw both commercial and retail business away from downtown. It would stunt growth where it was intended (as stated in the City’s Official Community Plan and the Revelstoke Mountain Resort Master Development Agreement), and in the end have the reverse effect of what our community planned for, sustainable and smart civic growth.
In April 2015, after a public hearing about his Arrow Heights development, City Council unanimously approved mixed-density development on 35 acres for a build out of as many as 1,600 homes. Why is city hall so eager to grant this same Applicant, Comprehensive Zoning rights to develop additional density on yet another 18 acres. This would total more than 50 acres of development in Revelstoke designed to meet the business goals of one developer.
When he suggests his development could put pressure on RMR he is ill-informed. Northland Properties Corporation (‘NPC’) emerged at the helm of Revelstoke Mountain Resort (‘RMR’) in 2008 during one of the worst economic downturns of our generation. To date, we`ve invested over $150 Million in mountain and infrastructure; an investment recoverable only through the future sale of real estate at the Resort. We created more skiable terrain than the market demands with more than 3,100 acres and the largest ratio of lift-serviced terrain per skier visit in North America. We installed the best and fastest ski lifts in the world which have over 30% capacity remaining. These are results that most resorts worldwide can only dream of. Clearly, NPC’s investment in RMR is beyond any reasonable question. The Applicant suggesting his hotel will result in a windfall to the Resort from increased lift tickets is ill-conceived, unrealistic and self-serving. Ski hill growth is not financed by lift ticket revenues. The sale of real estate at the resort is what actually funds four-season infrastructure projects, future ski lift infrastructure, required snow making equipment, and terrain development etc.
Revelstoke has an Official Community Plan to guide growth based on the best long term outcomes. It recommends development between the City centre and RMR. It ensures, among many things, that the City’s core does not shift to the Resort, and that the Resort does not compete with the downtown core. It took over 2 years to create. It also took several years of meetings between the Province, Resort developer and the City to complete the Master Development Agreement. Now Council may make a decision contrary to these plans and Agreements in less than 60 days. The speed with which this Application is being processed by City Hall is concerning. A first and 2nd reading in June with a Public Hearing in July is considered fast tracking by any measure. And what is the consequence of making a rushed and poorly-informed decision?
Granting development opportunity to someone who has invested nothing in the Resort (and never will have to) will have long-term detrimental effect on the Resort and in turn, on the community’s tourist-based economy.