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Friday, November 13, 2015

Castle Mountain Area Structure Plan review proposed


Chris Davis

Castle Mountain Resort (CMR) representative Kevin Finn appeared before council for the MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 at council's October 13 meeting.  CMR has requested $40,000 in funding from the MD to assist with funding a new Resort Master Plan.

CMR hopes to be a "commercial base supporting the recently announced Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Park."

At their November 10 meeting council tabled the request for funding until MD staff consults with CMR about the proposal and reports back to council.


According to Finn, CMR has been meeting with various Alberta Government ministries to determine the future of the resort. Castle Mountain is adjacent to the recently announced Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland Park. CMR could capitalize more on their new situation if the anticipated increase in tourism occurs and there are accommodations and amenities at Castle to retain them longer and more effectively, throughout the year instead of being a seasonal and largely snow dependent operation. Things have changed since a Castle Mountain visioning meeting in 2008.

In a September 30, 2015 letter to council Castle Mountain Resort Area Structure Plan Review Committee Chair Dennis Miller asked three things of the MD, that MD planning staff work with CMR "to develop an updated Master Development Plan for the resort's fee simple lands, that the MD table its current draft CMR ASP pending completion of the updated Master Development Plan, and the MD provide our committee with additional time to review, fully understand and provide comment regarding the numerous concepts, provisions and requirements contained in the current draft CMR ASP. We suggest the comment period be extended to at least the end of 2015."

The Castle Mountain Resort Area Structure Plan (CMR ASP) steering committee "is comprised of members of the CMR community and  members of CMR's Board of Directors, as well as legal advisers and planning  consultants".

"In light of the above, Castle Mountain Resort respectfully requests the Municipal District of Pincher Creek budget $40,000 in the upcoming 2016 municipal budget to assist with the funding of the RMP. Please consider assisting this community owned amenity of which the MD is a significant stakeholder. We look forward to your positive response to this request."

"Recently we were pleased to receive a draft of the CMR ASP which embraced the policy perspective that CMR should be able to subdivide the existing leasehold  titles and the removal of the leasehold  title restriction contained  in the existing ASP.  The CMR ASP steering  committee   sees this as a  significant  step forward  in support of the community  as it will allow the resort to continue to provide a world renowned skiing experience while protecting community  residents. The form of subdivision suggested  by the  MD (i.e. condominium  structure)   will  require  in-depth  analysis to determine all of its ramifications."

According to the letter, those ramifications include:
  1. The requirement for an Environmental Management Plan to be completed prior to subdivision approval;
  2. The tying of development approvals to an Architectural Control review;
  3. The limit being put on the number of resort beds/lots;
  4. The future land use concept;
  5. Municipal Reserve allocation; and
  6. The appeal procedure for subdivision (local SDAB or MGB).

"Each of these issues is complex with implications and consequences for our community and business which will last for years.  We believe it would be irresponsible on the part of this committee  to provide comments based upon a hurried consideration of the draft CMR ASP."

"Furthermore, the draft CMR ASP was developed based on a Resort Master Plan (RMP) dated 2002. We believe this plan is out of date and have undertaken to work jointly with the Alberta Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Alberta Ministry of Environment and Parks to develop an updated  Resort Master  Plan. This plan will more fully  reflect the development  potential of our License of Occupation lands and fee simple lands as a commercial base supporting the recently announced Castle Provincial Park and Castle Wildland  Park.  The Board of Directors of CMR. Inc. is currently working to allocate capital and engage a consultant to complete this work.

We believe the  information  to  be compiled in an updated  Resort Master Plan will provide a  contemporary foundation for the CMR ASP which reflects the aspirations and needs of our community, our business,the MD of Pincher Creek, and the Province of Alberta."

In a September 30, 2015 letter to council Finn addressed the transition of the Castle area to a Provincial Park and a Wildland Park, and also spoke to CMR's cash-poor position after the "untimely ending of the 2014/15 season", and that correspondence included an audited 2014/15 financial report. CMR lost $886,387 last year, compared to a $292,385 profit the year before. That's a million plus in the wrong direction.

"We understand this plan contemplates the development  of CMR as a potential commercial center in support of the parks," said Finn.  "CMR's Board of Directors has undertaken to work together with Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Ministry of Environment and Parks to update its Resort Master Plan (RMP) in consideration of full build out of approved and/or anticipated resort amenities."

"Following the untimely ending of the 2014/15 season, CMR's cash resources are limited... However,  in view of the change in the Province of Alberta's plans for the area and the MD of Pincher Creek's desire to revise and update the Area Structure Plan governing our fee simple lands, we believe updating our RMP is a priority.  The Board of Directors of Castle Mountain Resort is in the process of identifying capital and retaining a consultant to accomplish this work.  The proposal provided by Brent Harley and Associates is attached to this letter.

"Please note CMR  is dedicated to continuing to provide a world class alpine experience and this is evident by the support  from the  resort community.   The community  at CMR is multi-generational  with  residential lots transitioning through generations of residents. The resort is a significant point source economic driver in the region; directly producing hundreds of  thousands  of  dollars  in  municipal  taxes, supporting  approximately  70 full  time  equivalent  jobs,  and contributing  millions of dollars of economic benefit."

"In light of the above, Castle Mountain  Resort respectfully requests the Municipal District of Pincher Creek budget $40,000 in the upcoming 2016 municipal budget to assist with  the funding of the  RMP. Please  consider assisting this community owned amenity of which the MD is a significant stakeholder. We look forward to your positive response to this request."

The attached audited 2014/15 report to the shareholders of Castle Mountain Resort Inc. indicated a net loss of $886,387.

Brent  Harley  & Associates Inc. (BHA) President Brent Harley submitted a proposal "In response to a request from Mr. Brad Brush of Castle Mountain Resort" to "review and refine the Base Area Village Master Plan for the resort".  That process would include the following:

1.  Project Initiation
2.  Existing Conditions Inventory
3.  Review
4.  Site Visit, Presentation and Discussion
5.  Base Village Concept
6.  Public Consultation
7.  Base Village Master Plan.

"Existing Conditions Inventory" would include typography, land use patterns, transportation, pedestrian corridors, park and green spaces. design motif, utility infrastructure servicing requirements. and "phasing"

The Castle Mountain visitor would be considered in terms of "sense of arrival" at larger scale base village resort facilities, with improved walking distances, changes in grade, "viewscape access" , and a "comfortable carrying capacity and balanced resort capacity of the mountain".

Various other factors may come into play, including a relocation of the RV park at Castle Mountain, maximizing the development potential of land currently sterilized by wastewater treatment ponds, development of unserviced land south of the current Castle Mountain base area, intensification of the resort core, and fulfilling the  parking requirements for the peak visitor threshold.

According to the BHA proposal, BHA representatives would revisit Castle Mountain and meet with "the key Castle mountain personnel and Board of Directors".

"The overarching objective of this meeting will be to revisit the base area village thinking from
2008.   We will critically discuss, what was being proposed then, and  collectively determine where changes to that  plan should be made.  From this, the  intent will  be to agree on a Preferred Concept and  Direction for the Base Village (and effectively for the whole resort)."

The final desired outcome, according to the proposal:
  • A refined Vision, complemented by development goals and objectives;
  • Alignment with the Mountain Plan and associated carrying capacities
  • Layout plans that define and delineate the physical development components of the Base Village, relationships, linkages, access, capacities, space use, accommodation units, RV park, parking, etc.
  • Resort core critical mass and focal point
  • Adjacent un-serviced lands
  • Wastewater lands development
  • Development and operational programming
  • Capital cost implications
  • Basic infrastructure requirements and implications
  • Development strategies in terms of priorities and phased implementation

Following that, a public consultation exercise.  "We (BHA) will work with the CMR Team to determine the  best presentation content, location, timing and format for the Public Consultation.  BHA staff will attend to assist in the meeting and make a presentation of the Base Village Preferred Concept.  We will also help facilitate  comment mechanisms and input from  the public."

"Based on feedback  from  the  public,  and at the direction of the CMR  Team, we will make any final refinements to the Village Plan.  It anticipated that changes will be minimal."

BHA quoted $36,660 to do the job, with a possible overall reduction if they were to be "engaged  to  complete both this Base Village Master Plan and the Mountain Master Plan, economies of scale efficiencies would enable the combined fees to be reduced by $7,200."

According to the  plan, the drop off area at Castle Mountain would be at the centre of a new core of buildings providing a mix of 82 'warm bed' rental rooms, pedestrian access to the village and plaza areas, additional facilities, service areas, and "expansion opportunities" at the base of the mountain, with the drop off point designed to create "a strong sense of arrival".  The buildings would be designed and placed to "guide the view towards the ski hill and beyond, minimizing the sight-lines to the Day Lodge 'back-of-house'  services".  The core area would also include 12 Bread and Breakfast accommodations.  Add to that a total of 32 townhouse and multi-plex dwelling units."In total there are 79 development units available within the resort boundary," according to BHA's document. In addition to that, 50 RV spots would relocate to the north end of the site, an area that would also include employee housing and the maintenance shop currently under construction.  The plan includes better vehicular access to the north end of the site.

"The existing Alpenland building is to be incorporated into the proposed village design.... Careful consideration  is required to ensure the finished product is both functional and aesthetically  pleasing."

The existing T-Bar would be replaced with a new lift, and the bottom terminus would be at the new location of the Ski Patrol facilities, First Aid, Ski School, and "Pub amenities".

Building 1 of the Resort Core would be 21,680 sq. ft. spread over three levels, and would include a check-in lobby, a restaurant, washrooms, employee lockers, and retail space, with 14 accommodation rooms.  Building 2 would be significantly smaller at 12,910 sq. ft. again over three levels.  It too would have 14 accommodation rooms, a check-in lobby, and retail space.  Resort Core Building  3  would be 8,070 sq. ft. over two levels, with 10 accommodation rooms.  Resort Core Building 4 would be 15,060 sq. ft. over two levels with 18 accommodation rooms.   Resort Core - Building  6, 19,370 sq. ft. total on 2 levels, would include a pub, First Aid, Ski Patrol, Emergency access, and 10 accommodation rooms.

The accommodation room size for all of the above buildings would be an average of 800 sq. ft. per room.

Building 5 would be 21,160   sq. ft. total over 2 levels, and would include rental equipment, repairs, retail space, service access, parking, and 16 accommodation rooms, slightly larger at an average room size of 850 sq. ft. per room.

Building 7 would be 3,400 sq.  ft. total over 2 levels, and would be for supply storage.

Resort Core Building 8 would be 6,450  sq. ft. total on 1.5 levels, and would include the 1000 sq. ft. owner's suite, a 1,450 sq. ft. common space, a kitchen area, and a 12 room Bed and Breakfast, with an average room size of 333 sq. ft.

Employee housing planning includes permutations and variables.   "The total number of rooms provided for staff accommodation  is based on the number of building levels, types of staff accommodation  units created and the amount of square footage allocated per staff member.  The number of staff members sharing common living, kitchen and bathroom facilities will determine the amount of square footage (sq. ft.) required to accommodate  each staff member."  Bottom line,  dwellings with common living, kitchen and bathroom space allocate 200 sq. ft. per staff member.  Other dwelling types might offer 250 sq. ft.  According to one possibility, a 3-level building of 17,400 sq. ft. would be able to accommodate 70 staff members at 250 sq. ft. each and allow for surface parking for 24 cars.  At 200 sq. ft. per staff member, 58 rooms 200 sq. ft. in size could accommodate 58 staff members.

16 townhouse units are proposed for a phased construction timeline, including duplex, tri-plex,  and four-plex buildings "to create a more diverse streetscape.  The opportunity  to reduce the number of townhouse units on parcel 2 would allow for larger dwellings if this was desirable based on market demands."

"The other consideration  and flexibility for total townhouse development on parcel 2 will be directly tied to the number of rental units that are created in the resort core, again based on market demands."

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