By David F. Rooney
To Mayor Mark McKee’s dismay Revelstoke City Councillors voted to approve David Evans’ Tree House Hotel project and its future developmental add-ons, whatever they may be. However, it must be said that they did impose a 15-year construction schedule.
The schedule permits the immediate construction of the Tree House Hotel, followed by a second phase of development in five years and the third phase 10 years from now. He had wanted immediate building of the Tree House Hotel with a covenant that would disallow new construction for five years.
His Worship the Mayor and Councillor Scott Duke were the only ones who voted to stop the development during the second stage of Council’s two-day, five-hour public hearing into Evans’ project. Everyone on Council — indeed everyone who has ever seen or heard the Tree House Hotel described likes — by itself. What Evans’ detractors objected to was granting a Comprehensive Development Zone permit for a post Tree House development that no one seems to be clear about.
McKee remained adamantly opposed because he thinks the project will harm RMR’s attempts to continue building RMR towards a position where it is mature and successful: “Do we really know when the implications will be (at 32:05 on the first video below)?
“What are our responsibilities, legally and morally? I know what I feel my responsibilities are, and I guess that’s why I keep going back to this thing here. I’m struggling with myself… knowing the role I played in getting the resort sold and developed in the first place. I feel that I have a legal and a moral responsibility to ensure that the resort is going to be successful for the long term.”
Linda Nixon, one of the Councillors who has consistently backed Evans project said he put in so much work on the project that he deserved Council’s support. She also noted that RMR has not done much to talk with the City and even though they may now be upset by a development proposal that is not on their lands neither she nor anyone else actually knows if or when RMR’s owners are going to do anything else on Mount McKenzie.
“We have to do what’s best for Revelstoke,” she said.
But Scott Duke asked his fellow Councillors to think carefully about the long-term consequences of their decision.
“Last night it was very clear that people like the Tree House Hotel but there are grave concerns about building infrastructure beyond that it alongside the resort,” he said, adding that the resort is still too deep inside its infancy to know how this project will affect it.”
Councillors Gary Sulz and Trevor English said they favoured what appeared to be a compromise while Connie Brothers said she was struck “by David Evans commitment to this community.”
Evans is certainly happy with the vote, which has once again revealed how fractured Revelstoke is when it comes to development.
“I am very pleased with the decision Council came to,” he said after Council reached its decision on Wednesday, July 27. I think the amendment of one third / third one-third / one third with the second phase coming in five years and the third phase coming in 10 years from now is a good settlement for all. And I hope that in the cold light of day they will realize that it is complementary and will bring more people to the resort.”
When pressed about the future shape of the project, Evans said schematics and artistic impressions will be issued as required.
“At the end of the day the five- or 10-year windows might actually be very conservative. They might be longer because if nothing happens at RMR there might not be demand.”
RMR officials left immediately after Council reached its decision and no comment has been forthcoming from RMR President Graham Rennie.
Please activate the YouTube video player below to watch the video record of Council’s final hour of deliberation on Wednesday, July 27:
Please activate the YouTube video players below to watch the entire public hearing held at the Community Centre from 7 pm until almost 11 on Tuesday, July 26 (Please note that actual discussion hearing does not begin until the 6:50 mark on Part 1: