Revelstoke city council unanimously passed third reading of a zoning bylaw and official community plan bylaw amendment for the Stoked Living development proposed for Arrow Heights.
Councillor Cody Younker, who did not support the bylaw amendments at first and second readings, said he changed his mind after attending the public hearing, held on September 17, 2020.
“I was surprised with how many people that spoke up against the development, but actually credited all the merits of it. That actually took me back a little bit. I look at some of the cons people had […] I look at some of the pros. My personal belief is it’s not the right type of rental housing, but it’s rental housing. Is this affordable housing? Absolutely not, but in relative terms if we say no to something like this, what message does that send developers,” Younker said during the regular council meeting held on Tuesday, September 22.
Read our story on the Stoked Living public hearing:
Several councillors, including Younker, spoke about the need for the city to do a better job in communicating with the public when it comes to the development process. Some significant concerns brought up through the public hearing process include emergency vehicle access with only one current route in and out of Arrow Heights and lack of sidewalks for children to walk safely to and from school.
“I was really disappointed to see the wedge in the community. I think we should accept part of the blame for that. Moving forward as a city we need to do a better job of explaining where we’re at with things,” he said.
Councillor Jackie Rhind echoed that sentiment saying, “it’s important the community knows there’s a lot of work behind the scenes. We want everyone to know those pieces are being worked on […] moving forward as a city we need to do a better job of explaining where we’re at with things. I think a lot of that fear comes from fear of the unknown because they just don’t know what’s happening at city hall behind closed doors. People think you can change an OCP in 30 days and that’s just not realistic.”
Councillor Nicole Cherlet said the proposed Stoked Living Development is, “exactly what Revelstoke wants to be known for […] mixed housing that fits in with the neighbourhood.
“I do understand some of the concerns that were brought forward at the hearing. We [city and council] knew that we’ve been doing it […] it’s beholden on us to ensure we do move forward in a timely manner on other projects.”
We’ll add the video of council’s discussion of the Stoked Living proposal here when it is available.
While supportive of the motion, Rhind did have some concerns about the developers commitment to building passive homes, saying she is concerned there is nothing in the agreement between the city and the developer speaking to this. Director of Planning Marianne Wade said the developer is proposing building what is considered Step 5, under the BC Energy Step Code. As the city has not yet established policy for Step Codes it’s not something it can ask of developers at this time.
A couple of council members also acknowledged many residents have cold feet towards development, based on how the Mackenzie Village development has played out over the years.
“I think the one thing that hasn’t been mentioned is really it’s Mackenzie Village next door that has people concerned, that cumulative impact and it doesn’t seem that it will be what was promised. I think that really concerns the neighbours, however I don’t see that as a reason to say no to this developer. This developer went and worked with what council and the community wanted and needed in terms of housing needs and how it would fit with this parcel of land. Hopefully he follows through on what he’s promising,” said councillor Michael Brooks-Hill.
Mayor Gary Sulz agreed saying whatever issues there may be with other developments, the Stoked Living development as proposed meets the needs of the community.
Councillor Rob Elliot called the project a “win, in principle” for Revelstoke.
“Let’s not fight things, let’s embrace it. Let’s plan to make it work and make it work well.”
City staff will now work with the developer in completing the following items prior to council making a decision on adopting the OCP amendment bylaw and zoning amendment bylaw:
-Sequencing infrastructure improvements including voluntary construction of a sidewalk on the west side of Hay Road from the subject lands to Nichol Road as part of Phase 1 development;
-Voluntary contribution to parkland on Grizzly Lane Park;
-Agreement to pay legal and any third-party costs incurred by the city up to $25,000;
-Executing the housing agreement to form a housing agreement bylaw for council consideration.