Another day, another story about insane housing prices and no vacancies in Vancouver and Toronto. Outside of the bubble here in Revelstoke, it’s hard to understand why they even bother — grind your life away paying for a million dollar teardown? More time in traffic jams than ski line-ups? No thanks.
So you’ve decided to decamp from the big smoke, but to where? The suburbs?
Why not Revelstoke? We asked Revelstoke transplants why they chose to escape to Revelstoke.
Koltyn Lamonday moved from the big smoke of Toronto to our mountain town four years ago in search of snow and adrenaline. But Revelstoke had more than a few things for him to fall in love with.
“I met a stellar local girl and now have started a career at Downie [Timber Mill],” the 25-year-old says. “What a change! But I wouldn’t ask for anything else in the world.”
Lamonday has noticed the different pace of life here and Revelstoke’s particular pride in supporting locals. He thinks it is the kind of place he eventually would like raise a family in.
“Life here is much more slowed down, intricate, and beautiful in its own unique way,” he says. “I love the sense of community and feel at home here even if I am thousands of kilometres away from my family.”
But getting to that future might be an issue, with the current lack of housing.
“Whether it’s reasonable rent or options to buy,” he says. “I feel as though Revelstoke may end up growing past its means in that regard. Banff is much the same with a strong local community and tons of job opportunities but nowhere to call home. ”
After working and playing in the ski industry for over 25 years, life back in Collingwood, Ontario, was a little hard to adjust to. It’s one of the reasons why Kai Palkeinen and his partner Kelly Hutcheson moved to Revelstoke in 2014.
“Kelly and I pretty much packed up the car and drove out,” Palkeinen says. “[Revelstoke] is one of the few places I’d never been to. But I kind of wanted to get out of resort world and back into real world.”
Even though Revelstoke tends to revolve around Revelstoke Mountain Resort these days, the long working history of town adds a touch of realism to this mountain playground.
“Part of the draw of it is it’s not a cardboard factory,” Palkeinen says. “It’s not designed to take people’s money, it’s a real town with real people. I think there is a lot of opportunity here.”
Palkeinen ran a boot fitting business in Chamonix, France, where he lived for nearly a decade. He didn’t come to Revelstoke to open a store but saw a demand for it. Pulse Bootfitting opened last year and despite its Orton Avenue location, off the beaten path, the response was huge.
They’re now giving 301 Mackenzie Avenue a renovation and will open their shop ready for the 2016/17 ski season. When asked about what he finds difficult in Revelstoke, Palkeinen says working wages. He believes commercial taxes in Revelstoke are realistic, but for a lot of young people, and businesses, the difficulty is sustaining a consistent income year round.
Other than that — mosquitoes?
“If that’s all I can come up with, I think we’re doing pretty good,” he says.
Revelstoke wasn’t the plan but it won the hearts of Anita Hallewas (Flying Arrow Productions) and Blair Brennan who have been here since 2008.
It all started in 2003 when Hallewas and Brennan, a young couple from Australia —in love with each other and with travel — came to Canada for a ski season at Panorama Mountain Resort.
They applied to immigrate and continued their travels around the world while they waited. When Canada opened its arms, all they had to do was decide where to live. A hand-drawn spreadsheet was created that scored towns against a selection of criteria including ski resort quality, local real estate, adventure prospects and town vibe.
“We drove basically from ski town to ski town,” Hallewas says. “That was the whole point of immigrating. We wanted to do all the things we had been travelling the last 10 years to do.”
The pair thought for sure either Nelson or Squamish would win but it was a specific conversation that stuck in their heads and changed their mind.
Joel Asher had just opened The Village Idiot and was bartending the night Hallewas and Brennan stopped in. They told him about their test and they say he looked at them straight and said, “What if we don’t want you?”
“It’s the first time anyone had said that,” Hallewas laughed. “And we thought, hmm playing hard to get, we like that!”
They had been in Revelstoke less than three hours and their mind was made up. Music was on in the plaza and everyone that walked past them said hi.
“We were like ‘we must look like people that live here, because this is weird,” Hallewas says.
So they moved to Revelstoke in 2008 and two months later bought a house. They now have two kids with Canadian accents.
And who was the winner of the spreadsheet? Golden.
First published in the August Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine — distributed all around Revelstoke.