City of Powell River Council has approved issuance of a temporary use permit for a naturopathic doctor to locate her office in an industrial business park rental unit on Duncan Street.
At the September 1 city council meeting, mayor Dave Formosa said the proposed location was in one of the buildings by Powell River Airport. Staff had recommended that the temporary use permit not be supported.
Councillor Rob Southcott said this is a fairly complex situation from the standpoint of city bylaws, which was well outlined and described by the city planner at the August 16 committee of the whole meeting.
Southcott said the intention was to provide a naturopathic doctor office space where there used to be a massage therapist. He said the zoning is M1 general industrial and the proposed use is a personal service establishment. He said a doctor’s office sits in the personal service establishment designation, which isn’t a permitted use in the M1 zone.
“However, neither did the previous use, so there was an inconsistency there,” said Southcott. “We have to reconcile past practice with keeping to our policies, which respects the rights and the privileges of our entire community. There is a good reason to make policy and then stick with it.”
Southcott said M1 has a limited supply and the city wants to allow more businesses that do industrial activities, and there was a list of permitted businesses attached to the agenda item. He said, however, that another mitigating factor was that none of the uses in the building really are industrial. There are offices by companies that do industry, but not in that building, he added.
“Consequently, people who have come to me looking for a place to put their drywall business, et cetera, could not go in there anyway,” said Southcott. “It’s hard to conceive of any use that would truly be industrial to go into that particular office space.”
Southcott said the term “office” was not described in the zoning bylaw, so there is another bit of a gap.
“Clearly, we have some deficiencies in our zoning bylaw, and it has long been an intention of our planning department to eventually get to revising our zoning bylaw, but to rewrite the zoning bylaw is a very big piece of work and the strange thing about that is as soon as you get it rewritten, the next day, it’s likely to be obsolete in some ways.”
Southcott said the zoning bylaw could be rewritten just for this building. He said, however, that a temporary use permit makes sense, given all of the elements to consider in this case.
“I do support the planning department’s concerns and I also support the issuance of this temporary use permit,” added Southcott.
Councillor George Doubt said he was going to support the permit.
“Personally, I think the use of the temporary use permit is using a sledgehammer to solve a rather simple problem,” said Doubt. “I understand the planning department has changed its interpretation of the zoning bylaw to say that something that would have been acceptable a few years ago is now unacceptable because of the interpretation of the old bylaw. There are a number of ways to fix that.
“One is to interpret it the way it was interpreted for the other tenants of the building,” said Doubt. “The other is to go through the long and arduous process of redoing the zoning bylaw, which everyone around the council table has been saying for four years that it needs to be done as soon as possible. The other one, which is the least satisfactory, is issuing a temporary use permit, because that’s sticking a band-aid on a couple of problems.”
Doubt said the situation entails someone with a business that people in the city want, and they have found a good place to locate it. He said he is not going to stand in the way of that.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the temporary use permit.