For the Evans family, Revelstoke is home and it has been for the past five years. Their youngest child is set to graduate from Revelstoke Secondary School this summer. The Evans’ personal property is home to several horses, a host of dogs, including a massive but incredibly friendly Rottweiler rescue named Harley, and barn cats who have run of the home. Local employees help with the stables. To one employee, Emily Wright, the Evans have become a second family. “They’re good people,” Wright explains. “They care.”
Yet since the Evans moved to town and bought multiple properties with the intention of developing, some neighbours became concerned about the implications. With seasonal vacancy rates hovering near zero, residents see the need for more housing supply, but they are nervous about higher density living. The hard truth is that developers’ interest heralds the fact Revelstoke has arrived as a world-class destination, and is now seeing the kind of larger-scale development across the community that was predicted to come with the establishment of Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Development has the potential to address some of the issues Revelstoke’s booming popularity has caused. Take Mackenzie Village (MV), the Evans first realized development in Revelstoke, where the results speak for themselves.
“We invested financially and personally in this community,” Shelley Evans says. “I can’t tell you how much it means to us that our first project supplied new homes, jobs and the knock on effect of more money invested into the City of Revelstoke. It really inspires us.”
Mackenzie Village is in the heart of Arrow Heights and in close proximity to Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) and adjacent to the proposed golf course. Phase One has reached near completion and the development is on the verge of starting phase two.
With phase one completely sold out, developer David Evans said the breakdown of purchasers has been exciting to see.
“About a third of purchasers plan to live in their homes full time,” David explains. “Another third are utilizing their space as a vacation home. The final third has purchased for the purpose of using their units as vacation rentals, whether the purchasers are local or not.”
Vacation rentals are a controversial subject in Revelstoke. With expensive and limited housing availability issues aside, the main bone of contention is issues of parking and noise.
“This is where strata is very useful,” David says. “In the city, you have to make formal complaints about parking. Noise complaints are dealt with by the RCMP. In a strata like Mackenzie Village, we have a 10 p.m. quiet time and a security company that enforces it. So if someone breaches the bylaw, both the renters and the owners are ticketed immediately. And underground or above-ground parking spots are available for each unit.”
While there are certainly out of province buyers, what excites the Evans most is the purchasers who will live at Mackenzie Village year round.
“Of that third, about seven percent of people who purchased phase one homes were people who were born and raised in Revelstoke, and then left. Now they can come back,” David says. “We have also noticed a demographic of people who want to downsize, but who are not ready to move into assisted housing or leave Revelstoke.”
The ability to stay in town regardless of age is important to the Evans. “A very unique thing about Revelstoke that we didn’t see in Whistler is the multigenerational aspect. There are kids going to school with our youngest whose parents, grandparents and even great grandparents all live in this community.”
MV has become a haven for Revelstokians who have previously been unable to get into the real estate market. With homes prices being at an all time high, and available homes often in need of major renovations, MV has allowed Revelstoke couples, singles, and families to purchase a new home with a mortgage equivalent to the sometimes exorbitant rent they were previously paying. In turn, this frees up rentals in town.
MV is meant to accent the beauty of the land it is built on, and the Evans have brought clean design and environmentally sound building to the forefront.
The Evans have a passion for building clean; their own home uses a biomass boiler fuelled by wood chips and passive gains through south facing windows to heat the majority of their home. With that passion for environmentally sound building in mind, most of the phase one MV units were built off site to minimize waste. Triple glazed windows, wall build-ups boosting the insulation value from R18 to R35 and LED lighting has given these homes a high passive rating. “It’s a fine line,” David explains. “I would like to make them even more environmentally friendly, but then the price would skyrocket.”
The units are crisp, the design a modern mountain vibe that utilizes white with dark tile accents. “We really like the contemporary look and purposely stayed away from the typical ‘mountain’ style,” Shelley says. “The theme we utilized will allow our owners a lot of flexibility in designing and furnishing with their style. We wanted to create something with stylistic longevity which would appeal to a wide range of personal taste.”
With phase two on the horizon, Mackenzie Village is slated to have 18 townhouses and four 36-unit apartment complexes three stories high with the main floor zoned for commercial space.
In phase two, patios and decks are included wherever possible. Townhouses will have rooftop gardens, as will the penthouses of the apartment complexes. With the large setbacks and minimal above ground parking, trees and gardens will be plentiful.
The development is situated on one of the last greenfield lots available in the city, and its dovetails with contemporary planning principles that seek to create neighbourhood retail and community hubs that allow area residents to walk or bike to get staple groceries and other basics.
Underground parking is a central concept throughout phase two of MV. This allows outside areas to be geared towards pedestrian use. Rather than more dense buildings, phase two will boast a pedestrian plaza comparable in size to downtown Mackenzie Plaza. In phase two, buildings will adhere to a 57-foot setback from Nichol Road. A separated sidewalk will stretch the length of the property, and with school board permission the sidewalk will extend to Park Road. There will be above ground commercial parking north of the plaza.
“MV is meant to be enjoyed by all people in town, not just condo and townhouse owners,” David explains. “Phase two apartments will have a main floor comprised of commercial space, so we hope people from around Revelstoke will enjoy the amenities.”
When asked if the Evans were worried about backlash from downtown stores, David doesn’t believe there will be much. The Evans have already been contacted by local business owners looking to obtain a second space and others who have been unable to find a commercial space downtown. There will be no box stores and most commercial spaces will be around the 200-square-metre mark. What’s more, being located in Arrow Heights means no traffic is diverted from the downtown. “We are looking to compliment downtown,” he says. “Already, right now, you can’t get into places to eat during the winter season. With more people living here, there needs to be amenities to provide for them.”
It’s important to understand our success is linked with downtown, with the Revelstoke economy as a whole,” he says. “We hope that by building Mackenzie Village we are allowing people who want to stay in Revelstoke the opportunity to do so. People are worried we are changing the face of Revelstoke,” he explains, “but we are helping keep people here who couldn’t have stayed otherwise. This includes vibrant entrepreneurs, who are part of the reason the downtown is what it is today.”
While growth can seem painful and the long-term effect is unknown, development seems necessary and inevitable. Mackenzie Village offers a potentially beautiful rendition of future housing for our community.
This article first appeared in the print Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.