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 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.
“From a land-use planning process we had some different ideas of what we felt was appropriate for that site,” said Dean Strachan, the city’s manager of development services. “Council had a very strong interest in that property because it’s such an important property in the community and an opportunity to do something that’s impactive.”
The site is a complex one, with the bulk of it owned by the school district. However, several old city roads still cross the property are still owned by the city. There is also a major storm sewer that bi-sects the property underground.
The Revelstoke School District’s plan for the site (pictured above) evolved out of an open house held in November 2013. Since then, the school district has twice issued requests for proposals for the site, but neither resulted in a proposal compliant with the RFP.
The school district is looking to re-zone the property before it goes out for a third request for proposals. In December, the school district asked for feedback on it’s proposed re-zoning.
“This wasn’t a new plan that went to the city,” said superintendent Mike Hooker. “This is actually the third time officially the city has seen it. Previously it was through the two RFPs.”
In February, Community Connections’ executive team wrote a letter to the city indicating it was looking for a location for a new building so it could locate a all its services under one roof, and make them physically accessible.
“It is our intention to construct a purpose built facility of approximately 25,000 sq ft in order to meet our needs,” they wrote. “We believe the ideal property to accommodate a facility of this size and nature is the Mountain View property and we submit this letter as an expression of our interest.”
That request prompted the land exchange proposal from the city.
“What council has proposed is that the land be exchanged for a different piece on the site, and potentially a piece that could accommodate Community Connections,” said Strachan.
The conflicting proposals leave the city and the school district at odds. From the city’s perspective, Strachan said the Mountain View site presents “an opportunity to get some multi-family development in around the downtown.”
“Everything is within walking distance of that site, which is fantastic,” he said. “There’s a real opportunity to add some density to that site, and that’s something that’s not in the market place right now. There’s not a lot of units in a multi-family format.”
Image: The City of Revelstoke’s site proposal.
The city’s Official Community Plan calls for a mix of uses around the old school and along Third Street, with a park on the northwest corner of the property, and multi-family development elsewhere. Some of those ideas are in the city’s proposal, though it doesn’t call for any commercial use outside the old school building.
Hooker said the city’s proposal doesn’t reflect the input the school district received on the property, which favoured single family lots.
“That particular version isn’t reflective of feedback we’ve got, or of the consult, or the market analysis that we’ve previously done,” he told the Review. “It’s very different than what our land-use planner has suggested.”
The city’s land exchange proposal could also put a monkey wrench in the plans. The school district proposed dedicating parkland to the city in exchange for the city right-of-ways that run through the property.
“You can see the land swap is very different from any other feedback we got and any path we were on prior to this,” said Hooker. “It will require careful consideration.”
Hooker said that right now the school district was focusing on two things — selling the heritage Mountain View Elementary building, and figuring out what to do with the Mount Begbie Elementary building.
“Once we’ve looked after those we’ll come back to the Mountain View site and the request from the city for their alternate use plan,” he said.
Strachan said this was just the beginning of the process. “There’s going to have to be discussions between the city and the school board on what land is exchanged for what and what uses go in there,” he said. “Ultimately the zoning decision is up to council.”
The plans, at a glance
Revelstoke School District proposal:
— Preserve the heritage school building.
— Single-family lots or ground-oriented multi-family residential along Garden Avenue.
— Park land in the middle of the site.
— Single-family lots of varying sizes along Second Street and Third Street.
City of Revelstoke proposal:
— Preserve the heritage school building.
— Give the southern portion of the lot along Garden Avenue to Community Connections.
— Multi-family development along Second Street, with a maximum building height of three storeys.
— Multi-family development along Third Street, with a maximum building height of two storeys.
— A park at the corner of Pearson and Second Streets.
Correction: This article has been corrected to clarify a sentence. We initially wrote the school board received no responses to its requests for proposals for the Mountain View Elementary site. In fact, they did receive a response, however it was not compliant with the terms of the RFP.