Report recommends Revelstoke council support for amended backcountry lodge application overlapping city’s Greeley watershed

Revelstoke city council will decide whether to support a revised application submitted by Revelstoke Backcountry Guides for tenure that overlaps the Greeley Creek Watershed at their Nov. 14 meeting.

The Greeley Creek watershed supplies water to Revelstoke's Greeley Creek Water Treatment Plant, also located in the area on the back side of Mount Mackenzie. Photo: Google Maps

A backcountry lodge application that was flagged for concern because it overlaps the Greeley Creek watershed, the source for city water, will be back before city council on November 14, this time with a recommendation to support the amended application.

See our previous story about the Revelstoke Backcountry Guides application here.

A revised application submitted by Revelstoke Backcountry Guides for tenure in the Greeley Creek Watershed has been amended to mitigate concerns about negative impacts, such as motorized activity, in the community watershed.

A city report prepared by director of engineering Mike Thomas recommends council submit a letter to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development supporting Revelstoke Backcountry Guides’ application for a modified commercial recreation tenure that overlaps the upper northern reach of the Greeley Creek Watershed. You can read a full copy of the report here.

“Specific to the revised application, considering the expected number of guests and mitigation proposed, the risk to the watershed area is unlikely to be significant from this application,” Thomas wrote in his report.

The report recommends the city respond to the application with the following comments:

-“The City actively supports and encourages the development of winter recreation of all types in the Revelstoke area, and is concerned about the impact of the proposed development on the City’s Greeley Creek Community Watershed.”

-“The City supports inclusion of a northern portion of the Greeley Watershed in the tenure application, subject to the following conditions: a. Except for emergency purposes, travel within the watershed portion of the tenure will be human powered only and will be restricted to the areas above 1,500m elevation.

  1. Travel within the watershed will be incidental to the primary ski areas of the tenure located within West Twin Creek.
  2. Travel patterns to/from Revelstoke Mountain Resort will not connect directly to the Greeley Watershed
  3. No glading is permitted within the watershed portion of the tenure.”

-“The applicant has indicated that they will gain legal access to the egress locations is via a Private Railway Crossing (under the Railway Safety Act).”

The City of Revelstoke received a provincial referral regarding the application for tender on July 18, 2017. Discussion on the application took place at the August 8, 2017 council meeting. See our previous story about the application here.

In that story, Revelstoke Backcountry Guides president said he was willing to work with the city to overcome concerns about the application which overlaps parts of the Greeley Creek watershed. Thomas said in his Nov. 2 report that the city has since been in discussion with the applicant and the Ministry of Forests to make changes to the application.

Parts of the watershed are already licensed for various activities including CAT-skiing, alpine-skiing and alpine skiing. Concern over increased pressure for recreational and resource activities led to the city commissioning Golder Associates to prepare a Watershed Source Protection Plan in 2013. That report recommended limiting activities in the watershed.

The Environmental Advisory committee reviewed the amended application in mid-October. The committee made a number of recommendations including:

-Travel in the watershed will include human powered skiing only (no helicopter landings or pickups except in an emergency).

-No tree cutting, improvements or alteration of the landscape will take place in the watershed.

-Travel in the watershed will only occur 1,500 metres and above (except in an emergency).

-Travel in the watershed occurs on an incidental basis (best skiing opportunities are drain into West Twin Creek).

-Travel patterns/tracks do not connect directly to or from Revelstoke Mountain resort to limit the likelihood of increased public traffic in the watershed.

-Any human waste produced to be immediately removed by the user to avoid the potential for contamination.

Revelstoke city council will discuss the revised application and recommended response at its Nov. 14 meeting.

The ultimate decision on the tenure application rests with the provincial government.