This story first appeared in print in the June 2019 issue of Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine.
Two years after being given approval by the province, the Revelstoke Adventure Park is looking to expand its footprint to include a stretch of land along the Illecillewaet River in the Greely area east of Revelstoke.
New plans for the adventure park submitted to the Columbia Shuswap Regional District site a proposed RV Park to the riverside lands, and also call for construction of a hotel on one parcel next to the river.
It’s all part of a revised development plans that most notably will increase the amount of accommodation units to 612, up from 362, but also proposes to add uses that will allow for hosting festivals and construction of a train station.
“All the changes really came out from the environmental assessments and planning,” developer Jason Roe told me at his office in April.
The expansion, if approved, will take place on 21 lots that were previously sub-divided and approved for use as hobby farms by the Agricultural Land Commission. Now, Roe hopes to reconstitute the properties as 14 lots that would be incorporated into the Revelstoke Adventure Park.
The plans for the Greeley property go back more than a decade. When I first reported on the Roe’s ownership of the property in 2010, brothers Jason and Brydon said they envisioned developing it into a second base village of Revelstoke Mountain Resort. A few years later, Jason confirmed rumours of a downhill bike park using vehicle shuttles.
The much bigger plans for the adventure park were unveiled in 2013. They include everything from downhill bike trails to zip lines to a bungie jump to a man-made lake with an artificial surf wave.
Since then, the proponents have been going through the regulatory process. They received permission for non-farm use on agricultural land, though a second application to remove the property from the Agricultural Land Reserve was rejected. They had the project approved by the Columbia Shuswap Regional District and signed a Master Development Agreement with the Province in early 2017.
Jason Roe said the latest changes had to do with on-the-ground environmental work that was conducted since then. Initially, the plan was to sell the riverside lots to raise money for the adventure park. Plans changed when they realized the land slated for the campground was intersected by numerous water courses. Only then did they decide to move the campground to their property north of the river.
Concurrently, they applied to the ALC to build a hotel on a one-hectare section of that property, and subdivide it into 14 lots instead of 21. Last year, the ALC approved the new uses, writing in a letter that they were “in substantial compliance” with the 2014 decision to allow the 21-lot “hobby farm” sub-division.
A report by Dan Passmore, a senior planner with the CSRD, states: “This application represents a significant intensification as well as expansion of the land base for the proposed development.”
Roe notes the hotel was part of the initial plans that went to the CSRD in their first proposal years ago. It was removed after the ALC wouldn’t approve it, but now that they’ve received permission to build it on their other property, they’ve added it to the plans for the park.
The CSRD report notes they were not consulted on the change in use and an ALC representative did not reply to questions about the decision.
So, when’s the adventure park actually going to open? Like many major projects that take years to come to fruition, I’ve developed a cynicism about ever mountain biking down one of its trails or zip-lining through the forest. The latest plans calls for installation of infrastructure this summer and construction of phase one next summer. Roe hopes there can be a soft opening of phase one in the fall of 2020, but he was hesitant to give a date because of all the inherent challenges; at one point they were hoping to open in 2018.
“Phase one will include six adventure activities and the RV park,” he said, adding financing is in place.
Future phases would include the hotel, a gondola to a mid-mountain lodge, an artificial lake, a bike park, mountain coaster, and more.
One question I had was what RMR’s summer developments meant for the adventure park. When it was first proposed, RMR did not have any summer activities. Since then, the resort has built the hugely popular mountain coaster and a number of hiking trails, and is opening a ropes course and mountain bike trail this summer.
Roe replied he felt there was ample demand for multiple “more than one activity centre” in Revelstoke. “It’s been no secret of ours and they were going to do summer development,” he said. “If you look at those Telus numbers, there’s a lot more base than we thought there was, and more traffic flow.”
Telus Insights data indicates about 13,000 people are living in the Revelstoke area during the summer and roughly 200,000 different people spent time in Revelstoke in May 2018 alone.
What about that initial dream to develop Greeley as a second base for RMR? When I asked Roe about that, he said it’s still there, but that the RAP alone isn’t allowed to offer any winter activities, and that any winter use would have to be initiated by RMR.
RMR is a silent partner in the adventure park and they have overlapping tenures, but the resort’s master plan update doesn’t contain any mention of connecting to the adventure park.
The revised plans for the adventure park were given first reading by the CSRD’s Board of Directors in March and have since been sent out for referral to various local, provincial and First Nations governments. Roe said they will press on with development of what’s been approved while the new re-zoning application goes forward.
“We’ll get there. I feel good, I’m happy,” he said. “I mean honestly, I wish it could happen much faster, but the ducks are lining up and that’s good.”