Mackenzie Village developer pushes for quick Revelstoke council decision on next phase

Citing delays, developer David Evans appeared before Revelstoke council on Dec. 11 to push for an expedited decision on phase two of the Mackenzie Village development in Arrow Heights.

Developer David Evans presents to Revelstoke City Council on Dec. 11, 2018. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer

An audience bolstered by developers and local real estate industry representatives led to standing-room only in the gallery at Revelstoke Council Chambers on Dec. 11. They came to observe David Evans, the developer of the large Mackenzie Village residential and commercial development in Arrow Heights, make his case for the expedition of phase two of the development. He requested the project be brought before council soon for a decision.

Evans presented to city council as a delegation, which gave him free hand to present his case. With a few asides, his presentation largely stuck to a written script included in the meeting agenda (see that document here).

In essence, Evans argued that he’s been diligently trying to move phase two of the development through the city process over the past 18 months, but has encountered numerous roadblocks in a “freewheeling” process that has led to repeated delays, pushing the project back again and again.

Watch David Evans’ Dec. 11 delegation to Revelstoke City Council here:

“Each time staff asked for additional information or expressed concerns with our application, we have submitted information and revisions to try to address those concerns,” said Evans, reading from the presentation. “For example, we had to revise our application and site layout to accommodate a corner-cut for the roundabout that city staff are now saying is required.”

Evans painted a picture of an obstructionist staff that is hindering the process through repeated bureaucratic delays.

“By continuing to delay our application and refusing to place our application before council unless our property is rezoned, a process that is at the complete discretion of council, city staff are effectively eliminating our right to have our application be considered by council, contrary to the Local Government Act and Bylaw 2097,” Evans said.

Evans continued in his presentation: “We have lost the ability to market the project this season and we are fast approaching the cut-off to line up contractors for the next building season and any further delay will result in another lost building season.”

Evans said he’d spent about $500,000 on developing phase two of the project, and that if things weren’t resolved in three months, he’d be “withdrawing the project.”

The Mackenzie Village development is regulated by a ‘master development agreement’ (MDA). Typically, master development agreements are applied to larger development projects. In essence, it’s an agreement between the developer and the municipality that allows the developer to do more with the property than would be allowed under normal zoning rules, but also allows the municipality more authority and input on what happens on the development. In the case of Mackenzie Village, the issue appears to be getting to the “agreement” part of MDA, as the large development proceeds to the next phase.

Evans pushed council to bring the matter to council for decision early in the new year. Near the end of his delegation and subsequent discussion, Evans requested a motion from council to that effect.

“That’s my job, not yours Mr. Evans,” interjected Mayor Gary Sulz.

Sulz thanked Evans for the presentation, but said he wouldn’t be “handcuffed” by placing a timeline on the approval process.

“I think I could refute some of your statements, but part of a delegation is to listen to what you have to say, not comment.” Sulz said. The mayor went on to encourage Evans to meet with city staff and the city’s incoming Director of Development Services, Marianne Wade, when she starts in her new position in early January. Sulz said the developer’s application was as yet incomplete, saying the meeting with staff would allow for discussion on, “details that need to be coming forward to make your application complete before it can come to council.”

Sulz continued: “This council and council in the past are quite supportive of moving your project forward, but we have some legal issues and … we cannot deal with anything unless it’s complete. … In your words you think we keep changing the game plan — I don’t believe that’s factual.”

Following the delegation, and after some council questions and answers, the delegation concluded. There was no resolution coming from council, so, for now, the next steps appear to be continued conversation between the developer and municipality on the project.

City CAO Allan Chabot said the city had been working professionally with Mr. Evans to advance the development, and that staff was not “withholding” or “holding back.”

“This is an important project for this community; we’re trying to move it forward according to the applicable zoning, and the applicable master development agreement,” Chabot said.

“The level of effort and the expenditure of the city trying to advance this application is very large as well,” he added. “We’ve been trying to move things forward here.”

In response to a question from the Mountaineer regarding what steps remained for the parties to reach an agreement, Chabot did not offer details.

“I am not going to provide an itemized list,” said Chabot. “I think this council knows, zoning that is accompanied by a master development agreement intended to provide a level of flexibility as development goes forward on multi-phase development often results in disagreements about compliance with general guidelines,” he continued. “So, while there are some hard and fast development permit application requirements as described in the MDA and in the development procedures bylaw still outstanding, there are some other matters where we have disagreement about whether or not there has been substantial compliance with the terms of the MDA, so those need to be the subject of further discussions.”

However, in an email to the Mountaineer following the meeting, a city development services staff member said they would be following up with more details on the question posed by the Mountaineer during the questions-from-the-press section of the meeting.

The Mackenzie Village development has been the subject of many stories in the Mountaineer. See our archive of Mackenzie Village stories here.

Aaron Orlando is a Revelstoke-based journalist who serves as creative director of and Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. He's been on the news beat in Revelstoke for the past 14 years, serving in senior editorial roles. If you have or call/text him at 250-814-8710.