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Revelstoke Character: Can a Zoning Bylaw Assure It?

Jun 08, 2010

What Revelstoke has, said one resident during a Tuesday afternoon meeting, is “a sense of community in a region that has too often lost its sense of community.” Which is why more than 100 Revelstoke citizens showed up for discussions on the opening day of the charrette to talk community character and how to preserve it.

The Tuesday meetings kicked off the four-day public workshop to turn principles embedded in Revelstoke’s Official Commuity Plan (OCP) into a regulatory framework to guide future growth. To get the big picture of the process that will result in a new Unified Development Bylaw, see the overview column to the immediate right. And to see how we got to where we are now, read our preceding posts.

What are the elements that make Revelstoke’s character so unique? Its dramatic setting and its human heritage, which includes an historic downtown worth emulating in future development.

Residents and business owners with economic interests met Tuesday to learn and share their perspectives.

What’s in the way of sustaining Revelstoke’s identity? For one thing, rapid resort town growth that challenges community goals outlined in the OCP. If new zoning rules are going to bolster the city’s chances for facing those challenges, residents told the consulting team Tuesday during a discussion about economic development, the rules will have to provide clarity, continuity, and simplicity.

The approach most likely to do that, said project team leader Geoff Dyer, is one based on regulating context and character as opposed to building uses. Use-based zoning has been the organizing principle for conventional codes and bylaws for most of the last century. Form-based zoning has changed all that, giving communities like Revelstoke the chance to answer the character/context problem with a system that identifies key character elements in a community, such as the way buildings and streets relate in the most beloved neighbourhoods. The regulations then can establish standards to deliver more of what’s preferred and authentic and less of what undercuts the identity of a place.

Proposed strategies for the charrette and the principles behind form-based zoning were presented to a packed house at the Community Centre.

Tuesday evening, Dyer presented the team’s proposed strategies for the charrette and the principles behind form-based zoning to a packed house at the Community Centre. He and two PlaceMakers colleagues fielded general questions from the crowd. Then, team members engaged in one-on-one conversations with attendees as they stood before walls of displays featuring the approach they’re taking for customizing a model form-based code for Revelstoke.

The discussion continues Wednesday with more focused meetings on topics such as community affordability and parks and recreation. On Thursday, the team “pins up” work in progress, attempting to answer questions raised by community members on Tuesday and Wednesday. By Friday afternoon, when they make their concluding presentation, team designers and planners will have refined Thursday feedback into what will come as close as possible to key elements in Revelstoke’s new Unified Development Bylaw. See the complete schedule here .

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  • Headline

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    In his introduction to Revelstoke’s Official Community Plan (OCP), adopted in July of 2009, Mayor David Raven makes a promise: “This is not a ‘whatever will be, will be’ plan, for the future is ours to see.”

    The mission now: Enable the OCP’s forward-looking vision, goals and policies with a regulatory approach that will ensure their implementation.

    “What we were able to do in our OCP was to establish key principles to guide our growth and redevelopment,” said Revelstoke planning director John Guenther. “That step had to come first. We had to say: ‘This is who we are. And this is how we intend to grow into our future.’

    “With that foundation established, we’re ready for the next phase, which is to embed our guiding principles into a legal framework,” said Guenther. “That’s what this process is all about.”

    This process is a collaborative one, partnering City officials and staff, Revelstoke citizens and stakeholders, and an international consulting team .

    The main event is an intensive, multi-day, collaborative public workshop called a charrette (see video), June 8-11. Out of the workshop will come the essential elements of a new Unified Development Bylaw (UDB).

    “Just as we developed the principles in the OCP together as a community, we’ll take this next big step together, as well,” said Guenther. “With the OCP to guide us, we can now focus on exactly what we need in the new bylaw to get us where we want to go. Citizens will have a good idea of what will be in that new bylaw by the end of our June charrette.”

    For background on the goals that will set the charrette agenda, go right to the source – the OCP. You can read the complete OCP here (4mb .pdf). Many of the goals fall under these broad mandates:

    > Recognize and honor Revelstoke’s unique heritage, both in terms of the natural environment and our architectural traditions.

    > Assure community affordability for a broad range of incomes and life stages.

    > Maintain inclusiveness and transparency in all community planning processes.

    > Align local goals for sustainability – environmentally, socially, and economically – with global goals.

    > “Act locally/think globally.”