Revelstoke considers infrastructure strain as final hurdle for Mackenzie Village approaches

The final Master Development Plan for the proposed multi-family housing project Mackenzie Village will be discussed at the upcoming Revelstoke city council meeting.

A design concept of the upcoming Mackenzie Village housing development on Nichol Road. Photo: Selkirk Planning & Design

It’s the green light Revelstoke developer David Evans has been waiting for — the approval of the Master Development Agreement for his ambitious Mackenzie Village housing project.

Mackenzie Village was proposed in February 2015 and the multi-family development is expected to add stock to our dwindling housing market. With the potential for about 1,075 units to be built over a 10- 15-year period, this proposal has been one of the largest that Revelstoke City has ever reviewed.

It will have an impact on the city’s services and infrastructure and these expectations, including the impacts of increased traffic on our roads and increased pressure on sewage infrastructure, were outlined in the development’s Master Development Agreement with the City of Revelstoke. The final plan has been submitted for Revelstoke city councillors to review at their meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 22.

At the meeting, council will also address the city’s future infrastructure needs. The city’s director of engineering and development services Mike Thomas has recommended that the Development Cost Charges (DCC) bylaw, which outlines what developers pay to the city, be reviewed in 2017.

“Due to the size of the development and the projected build-out timeline, Mackenzie Village accelerates several key infrastructure and planning projects into a more immediate timeframe for the city to consider,” Thomas wrote in his report to council.

In the DCC bylaw review, Thomas recommends that upgrades to the city’s sewer treatment plant be made a priority, along with upgrades to the corridor and intersections along Fourth Street and Airport Way, and either twinning or replacing the Illecillewaet Bridge.

Thomas states that Revelstoke City has had a DCC Bylaw for over a decade, but the bylaw has only been amended twice, the last in 2008 was a minor amendment, despite consultant recommendations that DCCs be increased.

Mackenzie Village at full build out is estimated to contribute about $9.2 million in DCC contributions.

“This contribution of $9.2 million would equal 17 per cent of the required funds, further highlighting the risk of proceeding with development in general without addressing the issue of funding the required infrastructure,” Thomas said in support of his review recommendations.

Tax and utility revenue from Mackenzie Village at total build-out is expected to be $2.8 million annually.

A current estimate of the cost to upgrade the sewage treatment plant through two construction stages is approximately $34 million, with the first stage being $27.9 million for a population of about 15,000.

Thomas notes that these upgrades are included in the current DCC bylaw, but as the bylaw cost estimates have not been indexed since the original estimates, they are almost a decade old.

If population growth in Revelstoke is slower than expected, that will have an negative impact on infrastructure upgrades.

“Usually for large projects, funding is secured over time through building up reserves such as DCCs or other developer contributions,” Thomas writes. “In this case, funding has not been secured up front, but rather the future development will pay the DCCs as development occurs.

“If development is slower than predicted, the city’s ability to pay back the borrowed funds from DCCs will be reduced, causing secondary or internal borrowing to be required to cover these payments.”