Revelstoke Year in Review – January to March

A look back at some of the Revelstoke top stories from January to March 2016.

This photo is from the Revelstoke Grizzlies New Year's Eve tilt versus the Golden Rockets. It was a raucous affair at the Forum and lead to one of our favourite photos that we published in 2016, even though it was taken in 2015.

This photo is from the Revelstoke Grizzlies New Year's Eve tilt versus the Golden Rockets. It was a raucous affair at the Forum and lead to one of our favourite photos that we published in 2016, even though it was taken in 2015.

January 6

Revelstoke average home value up by 10 per cent in 2016

Property values increased in Revelstoke for the second straight year in a row in 2015, BC Assessment announced Monday morning. The annual assessment roll was published Monday morning and they showed that the value of all residential property in Revelstoke went up by 3.4 per cent, while the value of commercial properties inched up by a mere 0.81 per cent.

However, the average price of a single-family home went up by 9.8 per cent, to $325,000 from $296,000.

January 20

Changes result in spike in bylaw enforcement in 2015

Revelstoke bylaw enforcement officers handled more than twice as many files in 2015 as in the previous year.

In fact, the 785 files handled last year was more than the previous two years combined, with the spike largely driven by a huge increase in traffic and parking files.

The spike  was largely  due  to  increased response to traffic and parking issues. BC Commissionaires dealt with 498 such files in 2015, up front 142 in 2014 and 51 in 2013. They also dealt with more garbage issues (43 in 2015, up from 16 in 2014), il- legal camping (34 in 2015, up from five in 2014) and unsightly premises (50 in 2015 compared to 23 in 2014).

February 3

Council moves $21.7 million budget to public

It’s amazing what a change in assessment can do. The City of Revelstoke was looking at posting a deficit this year, but that’s changed after BC Assessment re-classified the Sutton Place Hotel to commercial from residential. The move has resulted in a $1.2 million swing in expected tax revenue for the city and, even with the city hedging their bets by putting $750,000 into a reserve fund, the city now expects to post a surplus this year.

It also helped to ease any pressure on council to make tough spending cuts.

Revelstoke council is moving forward with a $21.7 million budget for 2016 that includes a two per cent tax increase for residents and one per cent tax increase for businesses.

February 10

Big Eddy water petition successful

The Big Eddy voted in favour of a takeover of their water system by the City of Revelstoke, paving the way for $5.7 million in upgrades to improve the neighbourhood’s water quality and quantity.

65 per cent of property owners, representing 71 per cent of land value signed petitions in favour of the takeover.

“Council is pleased that the Big Eddy landowners successfully petitioned the City of Revelstoke and that more than $3.7 million in infrastructure grants will be accessed to make the necessary system improvements,” said Mayor Mark McKee in a news release. “We would like to thank Big Eddy residents who work with city staff to facilitate a positive outcome for the petition process. Their efforts are greatly appreciated.”

February 17

Investors purchase water bottling plant

A group of investors have purchased the Revelstoke water bottling plant and intend to restart operations sometime in the next year.

“I think water is a huge resource and I think it’s something we need and its renewable,” said Marke Antonsen, who is leading up the group of investors in the old plant, which is located off the Trans-Canada Highway just west of Glacier National Park. The plant has been shuttered since September 2009 when the former owner Ice River Springs closed up shop, putting 19 people out of work in the process. At the time, the former owners said the plant wasn’t competitive.

February 24

New hotel proposed for Farwell area

A Revelstoke developer is proposing to build a 5.5-storey, 68-suite hotel in the Farwell neighbourhood.

The Revelstoke Land & Development Co. is proposing to build a new hotel at the intersection of Wright Street and First Street, across from the Gateway Inn.

They have applied for a development variance permit that would allow for a 5.5-storey hotel on the site. Council was set to consider the application at it’s meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 23, after press time.

March 2

Grizzlies swept from playoffs

The Revelstoke Grizzlies were swept out of the playoffs on Sunday, losing their first round series to the 100 Mile House Wranglers in four games.

“That’s three years that just ended tonight,” said captain Kenny Batke. “I can’t say I’m disappointed because everyone worked hard, but to see it come to an end in one night is never easy.”

Revelstoke went into the playoffs as underdogs against the division winners from 100 Mile, who iced a bigger and more experience team.

Plans presented for highway intersection

Photo: Mike Thomas, the City of Revelstoke’s director of engineering, listens to feedback at an open house on the highway intersection plans in March.

The proposed design for the Trans-Canada Highway intersection upgrade will include roundabouts and some left turn restrictions, according to drawings provided to the Review.

“There’s changes, but I think for most drivers the changes will be fairly favourable, fairly easy to navigate,” said Mike Thomas, the City of Revelstoke’s director of engineering.

An open house on the preliminary design plans for Revelstoke’s beleaguered Trans-Canada Highway intersection will take place at the community centre on Wednesday, March 2, at 7:30 p.m.

The intersection is home to McDonald’s, A&W, Shell, Tim Horton’s, & Super 8 Motel, and is soon to be home to a Petro Canada and Starbucks.

The proposal includes roundabouts at Victoria Road and Wright Street, and Laforme Boulevard and Fraser Drive (the turn-off to the Chevron). It also includes  modifications to the Mutas Road intersection that would, most notably, eliminate left turns out of the McDonald’s loop and into the Shell station.

March 9

Council approves budget

Revelstoke council approved its budget last Monday, despite protests from the Chamber of Commerce that it needed to shift the tax burden away from businesses.

Council held a 90-minute special budget meeting on Monday, Feb. 29, that started with a plea from the Chamber of Commerce to reduce the tax burden on business, and ended with a split council approving the financial plan as it was presented to the public at the end of January.

Council chambers was filled with business people eager to find out how they would vote.

The plan includes $21.7 million in spending, a two per cent tax increase on residential properties, and a one per cent tax increase on business properties.

Fire erupts inside Columbia Gardens apartment Unit

A fire alarm failed to go off inside a Revelstoke apartment building after a blaze broke out in one of the units last week.

Dozens of people were forced from their homes after a unit in Revelstoke’s Columbia Garden apartment building caught fire late last Wednesday afternoon.

The fire started sometime around 5 p.m. on Mar. 2. Multiple fire trucks, police and ambulance rushed to the scene, while the residents of the apartment complex evacuated the building.

March 16

Massive Mackenzie Village proposal clears third reading

The proposed Mackenzie Village development passed a major hurdle on Tuesday when it was given third reading by council.

The vote came after a two hour public hearing that saw Arrow Heights residents speak against the proposed development, the business community speak in favour, and others lie somewhere in between.

“I understand it’s difficult to have a housing unit next to a development like this but I’m inclined that we need to have some development in this community to grow,” said councillor Connie Brothers while explaining her vote to the crowd of about 150 people. “I think we need to grow so I am going to support this motion.”

David & Shelley Evans are proposing to build a mixed-density development with up to 1,200 apartments, townhouses, condos and single-family homes on a 35 acre lot off Nichol Road in Arrow Heights.

Council approves Farwell hotel height variance

The developers of a new Revelstoke hotel say it will be a showcase heralding people to the community.

“Our plan, when you come through that underpass, we’re going to make a statement not just for our hotel, but we’re going to make a statement for Revelstoke,” said Fred Beruschi.

The Revelstoke Land & Development Company (RLDC) is planning to build a 5.5-storey hotel with 68 suites on a property in the Farwell neighbourhood bounded by First, Second, Wright and Benson Streets, near the CP Rail overpass over Victoria Road.

The proposal passed its first hurdle last week when council agreed to allow a variance permit that increases the maximum height allowed on the lot to 26 metres from 10.5 metres. Council voted unanimously at its meeting last Tuesday to support the variance, however they made no mention of feedback opposing the request.

“This is just another good news stories of business expanding in Revelstoke and people investing their money and seeing a good future in our city,” said councillor Linda Nixon.

Another gravel pit application filed for Westside Road area

A Revelstoke construction company has applied to open up yet another gravel pit off Westside Road.

Interoute, which currently operates a 28-acre gravel pit off Westride Road across the river from Columbia Park, has applied for a land tenure in order to extract gravel next to its existing operation starting in 2028.

“We’ve been in business for 35 years and we’re going to be there for another 35,” said Corey Rokosh, the manager of Interoute’s Revelstoke operations. “We want to make sure we have all the aggregate we need to supply the community’s needs in the future.”

The future pit would be located almost directly across the river from the Revelstoke Golf Club, in between Interoute’s existing pit and another quarry proposed by Revelstoke Sand & Gravel last August that has yet to be approved.

Terra Firma set to double production on new farm

Terra Park and Robert Jay are probably more excited than most as the snow rapidly melts in the valley around Revelstoke.

As soon as its gone, the owners of Terra Firma Farm get to start working on their new farm at the site of Nelles Ranch on Highway 23 South.

Their new home is only a few hundred metres away from their old one, but it’s much larger and the soil is better. “We’ll probably double our production this year, and then get bigger every year,” said Jay, when I visited him and Park at their new farm a few weeks ago.

March 23

Avalanche deaths prompt outcry from snowmobile community

Last Tuesday, Avalanche Canada’s snowmobile committee had a conference call. For 2.5 hours they scratched their heads and tried to figure out why so many snowmobilers had died in avalanches so far this winter.

“The whole community, everybody’s at a loss right now. Why are things happening?,” Brent Strand, the snowmobile outreach coordinator with Avalanche Canada, told me.

The reports were grim. There was one death near Prince George on Jan. 23, then five near McBride, B.C., six days later.

A Calgary man died on Feb. 21 near Golden and a Sicamous man died in an avalanche near his home on Mar. 8.

There were four more deaths from Mar. 13–15 — two near Blue River, another in the north Shuswap, and the last near Castlegar.

All told, this is the worst winter for snowmobiling deaths since 2008-09, when 19 sledders died in avalanches. That deadly winter, along with the 2010 Boulder Mountain avalanche near Revelstoke, spurred a huge initiative from Avalanche Canada to reach out to the snowmobile community, and from within the snowmobile community to encourage eachother to get educated.

Conflicting plans presented for Mountain View site

The City of Revelstoke is pushing for multi-family development on the site of the old Mountain View Elementary school, with a proposal that incorporates a new building for Community Connections and is at odds with what the school district is proposing.

In a series of recommendations that emerged from the closed door portion of the March 8 meeting of council, the city is looking to establish a comprehensive development zone for the property that would preserve the heritage school building, include parkland at the corner of Second and Pearson Streets, and feature multi-family development along Second and Third Streets.

One of the most interesting elements of the plan is a land-swap that would see the city give the school district ownership of all the old city roadways that criss-cross the property in exchange for ownership of the southern portion of the site, which would then be turned over to Community Connections for construction of a new building.

The proposal puts the city at odds with the school district, whose own plan calls for single-family development along Second and Third Street, a variety of residential options along Garden Avenue, and a larger park in the centre of the property.

Affordable housing complex ready for residents

The first residents have moved into the new affordable housing complex on Oscar Street, with more expected to show up in the coming months.

Glen O’Reilly of the Revelstoke Community Housing Society said eight of the 12 units have already been rented, while a few more applications came into the society last week.

The society built eight two-bedroom and four one-bedroom apartments on Oscar Street. Two of the units are accessible. They are move-in ready, with only the exterior landscaping and the backyard storage sheds still in need of completion.

The apartments were built for $3.22 million, most of which came from BC Housing and other sources. The society borrowed $899,500. Rents range from $550-650 for the one-bedroom apartments, and $750-850 for the two bedroom apartments. The actual rent depends on a person’s income.

Photo: Classical pianist Philip Chiu performs on a mountain top in Mica Heliskiing’s tenure in the Rocky Mountains north of Revelstoke. Chiu performed in Grizzly Plaza before he and the piano were whisked away north in a helicopter. ~ By Zoya Lynch

March 30

Site plan presented for Williamson’s Lake

Big questions were raised around budgeting for major upgrades to Williamson’s Lake park & campground after a final site plan was presented to the City of Revelstoke’s parks committee last week.

The plan calls for replacing existing buildings, improving accessibility to the beach, renovating the dock, moving the mini-golf course and removing all campsites from the beach area.

The total price tag could reach $1.4 million, depending on what kind of buildings are constructed and if every project in the plan is implemented.

“We did endorse it as it is laid out there,” councillor Aaron Orlando, the chair of the parks committee, told the Review. However, he added that first they want to see a business plan in place that would look at the ongoing revenue and expenses associated with the park.

Revelstoke Nordic team finishes 15th overall at Ski Nationals

Revelstoke Nordic skiers are returning home with much to be proud of after the 2016 Ski Nationals held in Whitehorse, Yukon, from March 19-26. Seven local athletes and two Revelstoke Nordic alumni trekked northward to the territory and competed against more than 600 of Canada’s top cross-county skiers.

Alana Brittin, Elizabeth Elliott, Beth Granstrom and former Revelstoke Nordic team member and current Carleton University student, Megan Evans, led the way with numerous top 10 finishes. As a team, Revelstoke finished a best ever 15th out of 61 clubs, including a strong 10th place amongst the Junior categories.


Revelstoke Times Review