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How could changing the DCC in Revelstoke affect locals?
 A delegation by Revelstoke RE/MAX during the June 12, 2018 city council meeting criticized the development and building permit process in the city. (Nathan Kunz/Revelstoke Review)

A delegation by Revelstoke RE/MAX during the June 12, 2018 city council meeting criticized the development and building permit process in the city. (Nathan Kunz/Revelstoke Review)

With the proposed updates to the Development Cost Charge Bylaw coming to council for the first time on July 10, we talked to different stakeholders in the community about how the changes could affect their businesses.

At the council meeting last week Mayor Mark Mckee reminded everyone that the process for updating the bylaw and changing the rates is not a done deal and that in the upcoming report there will be different options laid out by city staff, not just the proposed numbers that have been circulating so far.

“There will be another opportunity for the public to get involved,” he said.

Adding that, he is confident that in the end the changes that council approves will be good for everyone.

The Development Cost Charge Bylaw allows the city to charge developers and use the money to assist paying capital costs of installing services such as roads, sewer and water infrastructure, instead of that burden falling strictly on existing tax payers.

At the moment, developers pay around $12,300 per single family dwelling constructed with sanitary sewer. The proposed rates would increase that to around $31,500.

Charges for a multi-family dwelling with sanitary sewer would increase from around $7,500 to around $21,096.

For commercial spaces with sanitary sewer, developers would be charged $213.68 per square metre as opposed to $62.66 per square metre.

For industrial with sanitary sewer, developers would pay almost $450,000 per hectare as opposed to the current nearly $90,000 per hectare.

And for institutional builds (hospitals, schools, municipal buildings), developers would pay $153.38 per square metre as opposed to $69.11 per square metre.

There are other proposed increases as well for camping sites as well as different areas in the city.

But what will these proposed changes mean for businesses, homeowners and people living and visiting Revelstoke? Here are some of the comments the Review has received so far. If you would like to provide a comment on this issue please email jocelyn.doll@revelstokereview.com

Royal LePage

Don Teuton is against an increase in Development Cost Charges.

“It will really destroy this place,” he said. “It will become the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.”

He believes that the current rates are too high and that they are the reason he hasn’t seen much development, besides at the resort, since he moved here in 2007.

He said that the rates being proposed at the moment will raise the costs of development well beyond the profit margins for developers and out of reach for people looking to build their own homes.

Right now the timing is critical, he said. He believes that if the city makes appropriate changes now that development might increase, but that if they increase the Development Cost Charge that there will be no going back, and that is when the locals will move and the housing market will shift to out-of-town visitors buying a second home.

“I want my kid to be able to stay here,” he said.

RMR

“The proposed changes to the DCC bylaw are short-sighted” said Peter Nielson, vice president of operations at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, in an email. “The majority of the infrastructure needs listed in the bylaw changes are not only needed because of new development, they’re needed by the existing tax base. To push the cost of fixing broken infrastructure entirely to new development is not only unfair, it will result in a lack of new development. Instead, we should be looking for ways to expand the tax base and encouraging growth that will provide revenue for the city in the long run.”

Revelstoke Mountain Homeowner’s Association

The association is very concerned that the proposed increase in DCC with drag on construction and employement and will be detrimental to the growth of the resort as well as the city, said Richard Tucker, president of the association.

“For the last ten years there has been virtually no development at RMR due to concerns about economic viability,” Tucker said in an email. “It is unlikely that increasing DCC’s by almost $20,000 per unit will improve economic viability of development at the resort.”

“(The association) is supportive of DCC’s as they are necessary to support growth of the City and its infrastructure,” he continued.

However, he said that the DCC must be fair, with both developers and existing residents sharing the burden of DCC related capital projects.

“The City seems to view DCC’s as a magic pot of gold gathered from new comers with minimal political or economic risk,” Tucker said.

He believes that if the charges are increased it will be tax payers and job seekers that pay the price as growth and development slow.

“City of Revelstoke debt and critical capital projects will continue to pile up with no funding available other than through aggressive tax increases further damaging growth and employment opportunities.”

He suggests that the only way for the city to move forward with the necessary capital projects is to encourage ad support growth through more efficient planning and building services and an accommodating DCC policy.

“The city will then be in a much better position to consistently gain both reasonable DCC’s and more importantly ongoing property tax revenue. Better still, if growth explodes in the future, DCC’s can always be increased by staff and council to moderate growth and increase revenues. Better to underachieve now and reap the gains later rather than risk killing growth altogether.”

Some perspective

Many business owners are angry and concerned about the proposed increase, however Jean-Marc LaFlamme of Startup Revelstoke, offered another way to look at Revelstoke’s future.

“The DCC is less important to how we harness the power of ourselves and solve these and many more issues to come,” he said in a statement to the Review. “Affordable living is at our doorstep with housing, food and transportation.” 

He believes that by harnessing the talent of the innovators in the community that other solutions can be found.

“We have all the case studies and technology available today to find solutions,” LaFlamme said. “This is not us versus them scenario. The government is our public company and we owe it to ourselves to work positively inside and outside to find solutions for decades to come.”

He proposed launching a citizen engagement platform and engaging everyone on top issues in real time, harnessing creativity and living happily as we get “Stoked” for exponential change.

Kathryn Whiteside
City of Revelstoke reviews the Resort's Master Plan

Highlights

THAT the report dated June 12, 2018 written by the Director of Development Services with a completed eReferral form, and attachments be forwarded to the Mountain Resorts Branch of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.

THAT the Province be requested to defer acceptance of the Revelstoke Mountain Resort 2018 Master Plan Update until RMR has completed the current Base Lands Plan planning process and provided the Province and the City with an opportunity to review and comment on the updated Base Lands Plan.

THAT the Revelstoke Mountain Resort 2018 Master Plan Update be supported, contingent upon RMR addressing the following issues:

  1. On-mountain and real estate development phasing
  2. Completion of Base Lands Plan and other detailed planning currently underway that is part of the Resort Master Plan
  3. Implementation of employee housing
  4. Agreement on changing vision and uses
  5. Updated Comprehensive Development Zone #8
  6. Updated servicing and infrastructure plans
  7. Updated statistics
  8. First Nations Consultation follow through
 
 

Watch the conversation at 1 hour 22 minutes

 
 
Kathryn Whiteside
Revelstoke tourism numbers are on the rise
 
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Overall tourism numbers in Revelstoke have been steadily increasing over the past five years.

Recent Municipal and Regional District Tax numbers for Revelstoke show significant increases in both high tourism and shoulder seasons. The MRDT, sometimes referred to as the “hotel tax,” is a tax of two percent on the purchase of accommodation imposed on designated accommodation areas on behalf of municipalities.

The local tourism sector sees the MRDT statistics as a reliable comparative indicator of tourism activity in the community.

Reported MRDT taxes increased a whopping 169 per cent between August 2013 and August 2017. August 2013 brought in $33,811 in MRDT taxes while August 2017 saw $91,080 in tax revenue collected.

Meghan Tabor, marketing manager for the Revelstoke Accommodation Association said mountain bike tourism is starting to progress in Revelstoke.

“We are also seeing a lot of hikers and national park goers,” said Tabor.

The MRDT tax numbers jumped nearly 96 per cent between January 2013 and January 2017. Reported numbers for January 2013 were $39,680 while January 2017 tax revenue was reported at $77,915. Winter is one of the biggest tourism seasons for Revelstoke with skiing and snowmobiling acting as the two main economic drivers.

Nicole Fricot, City of Revelstoke Community Economic Development Director, said snowmobiling is really on the rise and the community is seeing increasing numbers of sledders visiting Revelstoke.

Meghan Tabor, marketing manager for the Revelstoke Accommodation Association said that as of the end of November the snowmobile club reported having already seen one-tenth of the ridership from the previous year.

Revelstoke is also seeing an increase in tourism during the shoulder seasons. July and August have always been busy but Tabor said there is now an extension into the fall shoulder season starting in September. MRDT numbers back this up. MRDT data shows $41,253 reported in 2013 and $60,613 reported in 2017, a 46 per cent increase.

Tabor said the increase is likely due not only to an increase in tourism but three additional accommodation properties and a local property service company also contributing to the hotel tax.

Kathryn Whiteside
Local housing association say they want better engagement with RMR; seek city’s help
 A long line-up at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort gondola base early in the 2016-17 season. The resort has announced new gondola cabins and lift chairs for the 2017–18 season designed to alleviate big lines in the morning. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

A long line-up at the Revelstoke Mountain Resort gondola base early in the 2016-17 season. The resort has announced new gondola cabins and lift chairs for the 2017–18 season designed to alleviate big lines in the morning. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

The Revelstoke Mountaineer The Revelstoke Mountain Homeowners’ Association brought their frustrations over what they feel is a lack of development and stakeholder engagement at Revelstoke Mountain Resort to Revelstoke City Council.

The RMHOA, formed this spring, is a group made up of property owners within the Revelstoke Mountain Resort master plan boundary.

Richard Tucker, president of the RMHOA made a presentation to city council outlining the group’s concerns.

“An important part of resorts is confidence and feeling like you’re growing. If the owner is not willing to invest in the resort, why should other people be willing to invest in the resort?” Tucker said.

The RMHOA received a letter from Northland Properties’ corporate counsel in April of this year. Northland Properties is the company which owns RMR. The letter states the master development plan made no specific promises about lifts, accommodations, food services, or other facilities and improvements. The RMHOA issued a press release in April, expressing concerns over what they felt was a lack of development that did not match what was included in the master development plan.

“The MDP is a “plan,” which was relevant to what was known and anticipated at the time it was created. Additionally, skier visits are not at levels projected in the original MDP as part of the master plan process,” Rob Toor, corporate counsellor, wrote in his letter to the RMHOA. “The phases of development contemplated by the MDP are directly tied to skier visits and uphill capacity. There has been no lack of investment at RMR.”

Tucker said while legally RMR may be correct he feels it has been a frustrating exercise with a lack of engagement with stakeholders.

“There’s not a lot of discussion or engagement about with their future plans are, if any,” said Tucker, who did meet with RMR vice president of operations Peter Nielsen last week. “We all recognize the economy changes, but it would be good if they were saying ‘there’s going to be this in two years and this in five years’.”

 Richard Tucker, president of the Revelstoke Mountain Homeowners Association presents to city council. Photo: Melissa Jameson/Revelstoke Mountaineer.

Richard Tucker, president of the Revelstoke Mountain Homeowners Association presents to city council. Photo: Melissa Jameson/Revelstoke Mountaineer.

Tucker also pointed out that the lack of specific development time lines could make difficult work for the city to plan ahead.

“It’s obviously a risk to the city economy. I think there’s things that can be done to try and increase engagement with stakeholders,” he said. “At what point does it become ‘enough’s enough?’ I think that’s a question we all ask as home owners. How can  we push RMR do a better job?”

Tucker made a number of suggestions on how the city can help, including:

  • Increase engagement with RMR, province, ministries, RMHOA and other stakeholders to seek compliance with the master plan and long term capital investment.
  • Implement and empower dedicated resource to advance resort development, clear issues with RMR and engage with stakeholders.
  • Develop and implement well considered incentives, taxation and time dependent planning approval policies.
  • Enforce completion of infrastructure to meet master plan and municipal standards in a timely manner – More than five years of non-compliance – Use financial security and other tools available to the city.

Councillor Linda Nixon said the city has been working with RMR to discuss development of the resort.

“This council is not doing nothing, this staff is not doing nothing. This is a dance, this is a big corporation,” she said.

Mayor Mark McKee said one of the goals of the current city council was to create a better relationship with RMR, but pointed out the city does not tell others how to operate their business.

“When it comes to finishing up development and paving the way for new development to come in, that’s what we are concerned with. We’ve had quite a few meetings with the resort to get some of the issues behind us. There’s lots of work going on behind the scenes right now,” said McKee.

The Mountaineer has reached out to RMR for comment on this matter but has received no response.

Kathryn Whiteside
Homeowners want Revelstoke Mountain Resort to deliver on original vision

Revelstoke, B.C The Revelstoke Mountain Homeowners Association (RMHOA) says the Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) is not living up to the vision of the original Master Development Plan and needs re-energizing. The resort opened in 2007 and has not significantly changed from improvements that were complete or already in hand at the time.  The original three lifts are the only major ones operating and there is no publicly stated timeline to add any new lifts. In several other key areas such as accommodation and restaurant capacity there have been no significant upgrades and the resort is well behind in delivering on the vision outlined in the Master Plan as proposed by the developer and approved by the Province in 2004.  

“As home owners, our collective investment is approaching that of the developer. We, along with many other enthusiastic stakeholders and supporters, want to see the resort reach its full potential as a world class destination. The hill is second to none with the longest lift-accessed vertical descent in North America and some of the best snow and terrain on the continent but investment is minimal for the scale of the resort and there have been few new amenities and upgrades in the last 10 years,” says RMHOA vice-president and full time resident, Peter Brown.

The RMHOA contends the current structure of destination ski resorts in BC may be inherently flawed. When the provincial government gives tenure of public lands to a private operator, it does not seem to follow through to ensure ongoing investments are made as envisioned in the master development plan. In addition, homeowners who have made significant investments have no place at the table to provide views in regulatory discussions or approvals that may impact the resort.

“Homeowners are major stakeholders. We support the vision of a world-class resort at Revelstoke but there needs to be consistent slope side and accommodation improvements. It was understandable after the world financial crisis that plans were put on hold temporarily but that was nine years ago and the economy has fully recovered by almost every measure” says Brown.

The Association notes that with an election underway and similar resorts proposed for Valemount and Garibaldi near Squamish, it is time to reassess how these projects are monitored for compliance and what can be done to ensure the province of BC and local communities like Revelstoke maximize the benefits, especially when it comes to employment and tax revenue.

RMHOA would like to see the Master Development Plan process include specific development timelines and five year plans, outlining a minimum of investment and expansion that will occur, along with a monitoring and enforcement regime should a resort not live up to those obligations.

Currently, resorts do not have an obligation to make annual investments which move a resort forward. In a recent letter to Peter Brown, the corporate counsel of Northland Properties which runs RMR, stated: “The approved Master Development Plan for RMR did not include promises with respect to lifts, accommodations, food services, any other resort facilities or significant facilities and improvements.”  

On its website, Revelstoke Mountain Resort states that, on completion, the resort will have more than 20 lifts, 100 ski runs and 5,000 housing units. But there is no timetable for that to happen. (http://www.revelstokemountainresort.com/resort/about-the-resort)

Today the original three lifts are still the only major ones operating with 56 runs and fewer than 250 units of accommodation.

“Ten years from opening and we are a long, long way from even starting to reach our full potential,” says Brown. “Installing more lifts, expanding runs and making more housing or lots available for owners or investors would give RMR a shot in the arm and would add badly needed jobs and taxes to the local community.”  

RMHOA members say homeowners should be recognized as an official resort stakeholder group. They recommend a resort advisory committee be created so that homeowners are included in discussions about development decisions and timelines.

“We are not asking for authority over decisions. But we want to be part of the process of planning RMR’s future along with the City of Revelstoke, First Nations and Northland Properties which holds the land tenure. We have valuable insights into what owners and future investors are looking for,” says Brown. “We have invested a similar amount of money but we have no standing and it is unreasonable to shut us out completely. We simply do not have a voice in the future of this amazing resort.”

RMR is upgrading the capacity of two existing lifts by approximately 20%: adding 24 cars to the gondola and 21 chairs to a chairlift which will bring those lifts to full capacity, a move the RMHOA welcomes. However, there have been no publicly stated plans or timeline to add additional lifts in the future or address other homeowner and resort guest concerns.

“That investment in adding capacity will make a positive difference. But now is the time to look beyond next winter to the future of the resort and develop a game plan that delivers on the original vision” says Brown.

For more information, please contact

Chris Olsen
Peak Communicators
Kelowna: 250-808-4910
chris@peakco.com

Alyn Edwards
Peak Communicators
Vancouver: 604 689 5559
alyn@peakco.com

Kathryn Whiteside