Residents near Revelstoke resort fear impact of temporary work camp in neighbourhood

·3 min read

For years, Danica Schiller has been living comfortably with her family in their house in Johnson Heights, a rural neighbourhood in eastern Revelstoke, B.C. — until recently.

Last week, she was among 52 residents in the area who wrote to the city council opposing Revelstoke Mountain Resort's construction of temporary housing at their doorsteps, which will house the workforce for a new development.

The resort company plans to build a hotel, conference centre and permanent employee housing units over the next three years.

Following the city's requirements, it applied for a three-year temporary use permit to establish a makeshift residential complex for 60 workers — made of trailer units — on 12 hectares of land it owns at 1121 Johnson Way off the Trans Canada Highway. The site will also include parking for 75 vehicles.

Many Johnson Heights residents are angered and concerned by the proposal.

The workers' accommodation will be located near the already busy intersection with Highway 1 that residents have to drive through in order to get to and from downtown Revelstoke. They fear the increase in traffic will lengthen wait times at the intersection and raise the risk of traffic accidents in their neighbourhood.

"To be able to turn up here and to leave the neighbourhood up here [by driving] is extremely difficult," said Schiller. "Obviously, they [construction workers] are going to have their personal vehicles."

In their submissions to the council, some residents say they believe the white trailers as well as the noise and extra garbage created by temporary workers will harm the the neighbourhood's idyllic character and may depreciate the value of property there.

City of Revelstoke
City of Revelstoke

On Tuesday, city council approved the resort's permit application, but, in the face of mounting public resistance, limited the permit's validity to two years.

Mayor Gary Sulz favoured either a two- or three-year permit. He says his city's bylaw allows work camps to be built on rural residential lands like 1121 Johnson Way.

Sulz says he cannot understand Johnson Heights residents' concern about increased traffic.

"They [Revelstoke Mountain Resort] are going to be using buses to shuttle people [construction workers]," he told Brady Strachan, guest host of CBC's Daybreak South. "I don't believe that there's going to be a problem."

City of Revelstoke
City of Revelstoke

The mayor admits vehicle speeding has always been an issue at the junction of Johnson Way and the Trans Canada Highway. The city is working on a neighbourhood plan that includes building a road that connects Johnson Heights directly to downtown Revelstoke, but this plan has yet to be approved by the city council.

Sulz says work camp trailers will be painted with earth colours in order to blend into the environment. Fences around the housing site and forests nearby could reduce noise, he said — not that he thinks there will be a lot of that.

"They [construction workers] will probably be working 10, 12 hours a day, and then they're going to want to get to sleep [at the camp]."

Revelstoke Mountain Resort could potentially apply to the city council to extend the permit for three more years.

Tap the link below to listen to Danica Schiller and Gary Sulz on Daybreak South: