For a Revelstoke civic engineer, it’s the most dreaded flush of the year. Skiers, snowboarders, sledders, permanent residents, visitors, seasonal workers, visiting relatives, seasonal residents and anyone else who happens to be in Revelstoke on the busiest day in the Christmas season – they all flush their toilets at about the same time after sunrise. Can the system handle it, or will it burst at the seams?
How many people are in Revelstoke on peak tourism days?
How many people live in Revelstoke? And how many are here on any given day during the summer and winter tourism seasons? The question has been up for debate in recent years.
The City of Revelstoke’s ongoing Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) process has zeroed in on some new numbers after working with tourism industry stakeholders on a head count.
ICSP consultant Cindy Pearce unveiled some of the study’s findings at the Jan. 24 Columbia Basin Trust meeting in Revelstoke. She noted an outflow of residents under 24 and over 45, and an inflow of people aged 25–44.
The total number of residents in the City of Revelstoke and CSRD Area B has remained the same at about 7,720. On the busiest day of the tourism season, however, the number of visitors, seasonal residents and temporary residents is between 5,000 to 6,000 people. That makes the total an estimated 12,700 to 13,700 people on peak days in the summer and winter.
ICSP consultant George Penfold worked with tourism stakeholders to count hotel rooms, campsites and seasonal workers to come up with the estimate by averaging occupancy numbers. He also noted there are still more peak occupancy days in the summer than the winter.
“I’m not sure about how much appreciation there is of what that number is and how significant it is in terms of infrastructure,” Penfold told the Times Review.
While residents have questioned the city planning department’s population projections – especially after there was next to no change in the City of Revelstoke between 2006 and 2011 Canada Census numbers (7,230 in 2006 and 7,155 in 2011), the count of temporary residents points to infrastructure needs greater than our resident population.
Penfold also noted an anecdotal trend in other ski towns of some permanent residents cashing out when ski resorts are announced. Eventually, everyone who wishes to leave goes, and population numbers start to climb. “Has the bulk of the outflow happened and will there be net gain?” he wondered of Revelstoke, noting new families moving for the lifestyle amenities available here.
“The scale of the amenities [Revelstoke can] offer in the town are probably higher than they would be without those non-permanent residents,” he said – snowmobile trails, Nordic facilities and the diverse variety of restaurants here are a sampling of some things that wouldn’t likely be sustainable without the tourism trade.
What about the black window syndrome – vacation homes left empty for most of the year? Penfold said it was harder to quantify due to the way census data is collected. There were 526 residential units with non-residential mailing addresses in Revelstoke, including new strata condos at Revelstoke Mountain Resort. This amounts to about 10 per cent of residences in Revelstoke and area. However, many may be rental properties that are occupied year-round.
For those interested in learning more on the topic, the ICSP consultants will be presenting a final community review of the ICSP at the Revelstoke Community Centre on Feb. 21 in conjunction with the Revelstoke Farm & Craft Market.