A pet grooming business remains closed for the foreseeable future after Sidney councilors withdrew previous support for Official Community Plan (OCP) and zoning changes that would have opened the door for it to legally operate on zoned land industrial.
While council meeting in Committee of the Whole last week voted to recommend changes requested by Kathy Banks of Pooch Parlor, Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith and Councillor. Scott Garnett swapped his votes Monday on the board and joined couns. Barbara Fallot and Terri O’Keeffe to oppose the recommendation.
Council instead passed motions proposed by McNeil-Smith (Garnett, Fallot opposed) that would rezone space on Malaview Road West for temporary use, while inviting banks to apply for a one-year temporary use permit from from its issuance, a process not without costs or bureaucratic obstacles.
According to Sidney staff, the flat fee for a temporary use permit is $1,700. The application review process would include a report to the full committee of council and a public hearing, if advanced.
Banks said the Black Press Media board’s decision left her blindsided.
She has already told the municipality that she would not apply for such a permit, she said, because the months-long process could leave her in the same situation a year later.
“I can’t go through this process and this stress every year and I hope they let me do this,” she said. “For me, it’s all or nothing. Either I stay for good, or I have to find another place that will allow me to be there permanently.
That place won’t be in Sidney because of its high commercial rents, she said. Instead, she plans to close her business for the foreseeable future until she finds a suitable location elsewhere.
“I don’t think they hear that I have nowhere to go,” she said, questioning Sidney’s support for the businesses. “There is no affordable space for a business like mine in Sidney.” She also questioned the argument that an operation the size of hers equates to a threat to Sidney’s industrial lands.
Pooch Parlor closed in early March after city officials condemned the business for operating illegally on land zoned M1.
Banks, for his part, admitted that he made a mistake by subletting the space in the industrial zone before moving his store from downtown Sidney. That acknowledgment of what she and others called an honest mistake, coupled with her nearly eight-year business tenure in Sidney and an outpouring of public support, likely swayed some advisers ahead of the March 21 decision.
But a week can be an eternity in politics and the council on Monday heard from several speakers opposing the proposed amendments, saying they threatened Sidney’s limited supply of industrial land. The timing of the proposal has also been questioned.
“On a higher level, I’m really concerned that you’re considering an OCP amendment in the middle of an OCP project,” said Steve Duck. “We need these industrial lands because we continue to incubate small businesses that permeate the Saanich Peninsula. »
Duck echoed John Treleaven’s earlier comments supporting a temporary use permit, arguments that eventually fell on the ears.
Garnett welcomed the additional public input from voices other than the company’s supporters.
“It happened last week, before the public hearing even took place,” he said. Hearing from Economic Advisory Board member David Calveley (who spoke at the public participation) and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Al Smith gave him a more comprehensive perspective on the full set of criteria, a- he added.
“He’s a good business owner, running a good successful business in our community, who made an honest mistake,” Garnett said, adding that Pooch Parlor continued operations in February bothered him somewhat.
“I feel bad for the person, but that can’t get into my decision-making,” he said.
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