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July 30th, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 30
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Car dealer frustrated by municipal bylaws
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
An application for a temporary sales lot at the Crowsnest Mall has become snarled in a zoning issue.
Bridge City Chrysler’s Bob Morrow is frustrated council has been hesitant in granting him permission to set up a temporary sales lot near the Crowsnest Mall.
“I’m surprised that it’s comes to this,” said Morrow. “If I was parked at that mall parking lot everyday all year long it would be different but I’m asking for three different times a year for a total of 12 to 15 days.”
At a council meeting on July 8, Ken Bourdeau, development officer, advised council to abstain from amending a bylaw that would allow Bridge City Chrysler to operate out of the mall parking lot.
Bourdeau said the decision to rezone the parking lot might create legal difficulties for the municipality.
On Feb. 26, the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) approved a request from Westcastle Ford to set up shop in West Coleman on land that was appropriately zoned for automotive sales.
“It could be perceived by some that we could be providing special treatment to Bridge City Chrysler, while requiring another car dealership namely Westcastle Ford to follow the rules,” added Bourdeau.
Patrick Thomas, director of Planning, Engineering and Operations, said a representative from Westcastle Ford had called the municipality to warn council away from approving the rezoning.
Westcastle Ford has even threatened to move their sales lot from West Coleman if Bridge City is granted its request, said Thomas.
Bourdeau cited a public consultation on the Offsite-levy bylaw where representatives from the development community said no business should receive special treatment from the municipality.
“During that meeting, I believe we heard very loud and clearly that everyone in the development community wants to be treated equally,” said Bourdeau.
Some members of the development community have spoken out on Morrow’s behalf.
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At a council meeting on July 22, Royal LePage realtor John Pundyk was voicing his support for Morrow. He said a sales lot could revitalize the mall.
“Our mall is practically empty,” said Pundyk. “If [Bridge City] comes maybe Westcastle will want to come on the alternate weekends. This is a decision for the mall owners. It’s done throughout Alberta.”
Oliver Strickland, executive sales manager at Rocky Mountain Properties who attended the meeting on offsite levies, said sometimes the rules should be interpreted as guidelines.
Strickland reasoned the sales lot would be temporary and could represent an economic benefit to the Crowsnest Mall.
“You have to look at what’s best for the community,” said Strickland.
On June 12, Morrow submitted his application for the re-designation of the Crowsnest Mall parking lot, which would allow for automotive sales and services. The amendment to rezone the mall parking lot received its first reading on July 22.
Bridge City Chrysler has set up a temporary sales lot in the mall parking lot on two occasions this year, which was a violation of the municipality’s Land Use Bylaw (LUB) and Business Licence Bylaw, says the municipal release.
Morrow admits as much, and says Bourdeau has threatened to shut him down for each infraction.
Councillor Dean Ward was in favour of the zoning change and said the issue of a senior’s residence was years down the road
“We’re getting a perception here that we’re difficult to do business with,” he said.
A municipal release outlined four concerns with Bridge City Chrysler’s application.
The first concern is the compatibility of automotive sales with the current commercial activities at the shopping mall. Bourdeau said the site could one day be developed into a senior’s residence.
Morrow conceded the point but countered that his business would bring economic activity to the mall in the immediate term.
“We support local businesses,” said Morrow. “We support the pizza establishment, the Sobeys, we buy gas locally and some of our [staff] even stay down there and rent houses.”
The second concern is the provision of municipal services to the site as the Land Use Bylaw states that all new developments be connected to water meters, the municipal water supply and sewage system. The law still applies to temporary development.
Morrow countered that the office Bridge City rents is in the mall and has full facilities for both customers and staff.
The third concern is the provision of adequate parking for both customers and employees. Morrow would have to provide 49 parking stalls in addition to the stalls already on the site.
Morrow says this bylaw does not reflect the situation at the Crowsnest Mall.
“There’s adequate parking. That’s probably the biggest joke,” he said. “There are no businesses in the mall. We normally setup right by the movie rental shop. The Sobeys has the whole other end and we don’t bother them.”
The fourth concern is the ability for municipal administration to provide clear information to the public regarding bylaws.
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July 30th ~ Vol. 84 No. 30
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