New downtown business…. if the details can be worked out

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

A vacant auto repair shop on 2nd Ave. NW in Slave Lake could be getting a new tenant – if the town can work out a few zoning issues.
Council gave first reading to a by-law on June 6 that would change the zoning the former Slave Valley Motors site, which somebody is interested in it for a light recreational vehicle business.
The proposal had been to rezone from Central Commercial District (C1) to C2. Such a use is not permitted in the C1, whereas it is in C2. However, as council heard, there are concerns about how well a business selling and servicing ATVs and snowmobiles would fit into the downtown plan that is being developed. The Municipal Planning Commission had looked over the proposal, said councillor Julie Brandle and had “a big concern,” about test-driving of vehicles, which was apparently done when the Honda Shop was operating in the area. Outside storage was also a concern.
At the public hearing on the matter that kicked things off at council’s June 6 meeting, landowner David Lucius spoke up in favour of the proposal.
“It was a garage,” he said. “We’re putting in something better.”
As for storage, Lucius said, no problem. There’s lots of it.
“Any business is better than no business,” added proponent John Larsen. “Whoever has a Wal-Mart – Main Street is dead.”
The new recommendation before council was to change the zoning not to C2, but to Council Direct Control (CDC), which gives council more flexibility in setting conditions on the development. Those might involve the above-mentioned storage and also set up a time period for the new business, after which it would be reviewed to see if it’s working or not.
Lucius didn’t like that idea.
“Nobody can start a business knowing they’ll have to vacate in five years,” he said. “It’s just not an option.”
That wouldn’t necessarily be how it would work, said mayor Tyler Warman, adding that there are some concerns and this seems a reasonable way to deal with them. It’s a matter of working together to come up with an acceptable plan. The CDC zoning would allow council the flexibility to make that happen.
“It’s a partnership we’re forming,” said councillor Mark Missal. “We want you to succeed.”
Next up in the process is another public hearing, on July 4.

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