By David F. Rooney
The public hearing at the Community Centre this Tuesday, July 26, regarding David Evans’ Tree House Hotel development and what may — or may not — come after it is bound to be very interesting.
Not only will Evans be there, but representatives from Northland Properties Corporation, the entity that owns RMR, will also be present and presumably will speak against it. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock you cannot possibly have missed the very public campaign that the resort’s owners have been waging in local news media.
At issue is Evans’ desire to develop property near the resort off Camozzi Road.
Evans wants to develop his Tree House Hotel, a novel establishment that would see individual units being developed as tree houses. The number of units has changed over time from 20 to 60 units to be built on 1.8 hectares (25%) of the total parcel of 7.3 hectares.
“The applicant has proposed to phase their development, the first phase would (be) 25% of the subject property (approximately 1.8 ha, total subject property area 7.2 ha) to be located adjacent to the northwest property boundaries adjacent to Camozzi Road,” Dean Strachan, the City’s development services manager, said in a report to City Council in June.
“The remaining 5.4 ha. (75% of total lot area) would be retained under a no-build, no-disturb covenant for future phases of development. The applicant has requested that two conditions be included that would trigger the future release of the covenant. The first condition being after five years from the time the covenant is registered. 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.”
By itself the Tree House Hotel is lauded by everyone — even those, like Graham Rennie, president of Northland Asset Management Co., who are campaigning against what they believe is a camouflaged effort to set aside land for eventual development as an alternative to RMR’s own base village. Mayor Mark McKee believes this and he has, therefore, voted against Evans’ project as it now stands, even though he likes the Tree House Hotel concept. The six other people on Council have consistently voted against the mayor on this issue.
Rennie characterizes Evans’ possible overall development as “parasitical.” He’ll siphon off business from the resort if he can and, ultimately, weaken it.
He says RMR has “a big nut to crack by keeping that mountain operating and keep it at a very high level of quality in keeping with its brand.” At a recent ski industry conference in Nashville it was obvious “we were a fairy-tale story in terms of how we’ve grown and kept our brand in the forefront of the ski world. We’ve hosted some incredible events and when I see David Evans’ comments you’d think nothing has transpired here. We’re not going to… fail or over-extend ourselves.”
Having a single development plan for the resort is crucial to its continued success, Rennie said.
“We probably spend $1 million a year marketing Revelstoke and we are probably the only business… that spends that kind of money to promote Revelstoke,” he said.
Those marketing efforts pay off as they bring thousands of visitors here every winter and now with summer tourism development, too.
Tuesday’s public hearing at the Community Centre, starting at 7 pm, is going to be very interesting indeed. Don’t miss it.