A diagnostic study intended to inform future strategy development in South Revelstoke was met with concern and opposition by many residents during a public presentation held Wednesday evening.
The study, prepared by Urban Design, looked at a portion of the Columbia Shuswap Regional District Electoral Area B in South Revelstoke. The study was requested by the City of Revelstoke, the CSRD and the province of B.C. A full copy of the initial report can be viewed here.
“The goal of the study is to provide the CSRD, the City of Revelstoke and the province with baseline information so they can work together on any future boundary issues,” said James Klukas with Urban Design.
Klukas said the study came about due to the number of individual requests for City of Revelstoke boundary extensions over the past few years. Examples include the Thomas Brook water and sewer development, the tree house hotel proposal, and more recently the Catherwood Road annexation request. Klukas said the intent of the study isn’t to say whether or not a boundary extension should proceed.
“It’s providing useful information to both the CSRD and the city and it will inform future strategy development.” said Klukas. “Every single boundary extension proposal that goes forward actually has to go to the provincial cabinet in Victoria for approval. So, boundary extension proposals are quite significant.”
Marina Jozipovic, with Urban Design, said the diagnostic study area was chosen for its geographic proximity to the city and because of boundary extension requests coming from the area. Jozipivic said while a large portion of the land is in the Agricultural Land Reserve the study itself showed few farming related activities with only some small scale farming.
“There are many factors that can influence what the study area will look like in the future. Currently development is fairly restricted because fo the lack of sewer and water infrastructure and the large amount of ALR land,” said Jozipovic.
Despite no specific proposal for a boundary extension on the table, community members were vocal in their concern during a question and answer session following the presentation.
Roger Kessler questioned how long it would take for city services to be connected to the area if a boundary extension did take place.
“How many years do you think it would take for services to actually be provided by the city?” he said. “Virtually all of Arrow Heights is still on septic. Is that where we’re going to be at if we connect with the city?”
Other residents in the study area voiced concern over how the study itself was conducted.
“This survey … why are there no names on it, no addresses on it. Why wasn’t the survey sent out to individuals who are impacted by this so-called extension?” said Nathan Hanson.
Although the presenters of the study stressed that this was a preliminary inventory exercise, and that any potential decision points were much further along in the process, it seemed clear that a majority in the room opposed any eventual annexation. Those who voiced their concerns about loss of rural character of the area, loss of agricultural land reserve land, or potentially higher taxation drew applause from the crowd.
John Durrell with Urban Designs reiterated that there is currently no proposal on the table at this time.
“There is a rationale for the study area. It’s really just intended as an informal survey,” he said.
The survey is open to both residents of Revelstoke and Electoral Area B until October 10. The survey can be found here.