Water supply issue leads to development stall on Farrell Road

Properties on Farrell Rd, adjacent to Victoria Rd, have a non-complying water supply and an unsuspecting small-time developer has already begun initial construction. Know before you buy: a city report says many Revelstoke pocket neighbourhoods have water supply issues that would inhibit development.

The water pipes on Farrell Rd show 1.5" and 4" pipes, which do not meet meet the Subdivision Bylaw Water Design Standards. Photo: City of Revelstoke - Public Works.

A house developer has had a nasty surprise after learning that the pipes to the town’s water source in that area have insufficient flow.

The developer of lot 906 Farrell Road, on the Mount Revelstoke side of the train tracks, has already built foundations and basement walls for the project.

But the homeowner has learned the water network crossing Victoria Road and the Canadian Pacific rail line, installed many years ago, is too small for domestic water and fire flows.

Revelstoke recently received a building permit application for this single family home but the permit has not been issued due to the deficient water system. The city’s preliminary estimate to resolve this problem is about $220,000.

Council debated their difficult position at the July 28 council meeting, stuck between wanting to help the developer and their aversion at being landed with an unplanned and expensive infrastructure upgrade.

Mayor McKee said it was unfortunate the project went ahead without first getting a building permit.

“It’s just unfortunate that this project started without all of the information,” Mayor Mark McKee said. “And I feel bad. But we’re doing lots of planning and lots work in our asset management, and have lots of projects lined up and it becomes very difficult for us to throw everything out and start looking at other projects that we didn’t know were on the drawing board.

“So I feel for the developer but we have just as many problems we have to solve as well.”

Local councillors debate a number of issues at the July 28 council meeting. Photo: Emily Kemp/Revelstoke Mountaineer.
Revelstoke councillors debate a number of issues at the July 28 council meeting. Photo: Emily Kemp/Revelstoke Mountaineer.

Councillors heard a number of options of how to source payment for the upgrade and moved with the recommendation to go with a ‘local service area’, which is regulated under the Local Government Act.

This means if 50% of the estimated eight properties in the area and 50% of the assessed value of the properties affected approve the project, the payment for the project will be imposed on them with a parcel tax. The project is financed by the city, but the property owners pay back the project over many years, with interest. At the meeting, it was ballparked that this could cost about $1,200 each per year for about 20 years.

It is likely to be unattractive to the residents and if it is approved, the tax may be a deterrent to future development in the area.

“I don’t think they’re going to bite into that,” councillor Scott Duke said.

The Farrell Road neighbourhood is not the only area in the city that has infrastructure deficiencies limiting new development. Other known areas include portions of the Big Eddy, (currently the responsibility of the Big Eddy Water District), LaForme (west of Columbia Part Drive), Track Street, Maple Street, Cedar Street, Oak Drive (a project currently underway), KOA Road, Monashee Estates (the infrastructure is still under construction by Northlands/RMR), the airport and parts of upper Arrow Heights. Several of these projects are identified in the 2015–2019 water capital plan, showing a community commitment to upgrading deficient infrastructure over time.