100 Mile District Council discussed zoning bylaw

The District of 100 Mile House discussed updating the zoning areas for businesses along the Highway 97 corridor.

The District of 100 Mile House discussed updating the zoning areas for businesses along the Highway 97 corridor last month. 

The discussion took place during the Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, May 29. Prior to the discussion Joanne Doddridge, director of economic development and planning, highlighted some of the issues facing businesses because of the current zoning bylaw. She noted that businesses of all kinds want to be on Highway 97 to attract the travelling public’s business. 

“Every business wants that highway visibility and all those millions of cars stop in their business,” Doddridge said. 

Under the current zoning bylaw, different lots along the highway are divided into different zones. The first is the central business district zone, or C1, set aside for general businesses such as apartments, funeral homes, restaurants and cannabis stores. Tourism-related businesses fall into the tourist commercial zone, or C2, while the vehicle-oriented commercial zone, C3, is designed for businesses such as gas stations or mechanic shops.

In a report made to council on April 16, Doddridge has listed several issues relating to businesses located on C2 and C3 zoned properties. On C3 properties the issues are primarily “industrial pressures, types of uses vs. lease costs and highway visibility.” 

The “industrial pressures”, Doddridge explained during last month’s meeting, are that when businesses close industrial users want to move in, but face pushback. 

“There’s a lot of pushback, and there’s a lot of questioning as to the definitions in our bylaws about why a truck can be for instance, a truck shop, a heavy equipment truck shop,” Doddridge said. Truck shops are usually found in industrial areas such as Exeter Station Road and can include logging truck shops, and they have recently been wanting to expand onto Highway 97.

Businesses that fall into the C2 zone meanwhile complain about it being too restrictive, that the buildings often aren’t conducive to permitted uses and the prevalence of vacant gas station sites. 

Doddridge said that several people want to open up businesses along the Highway 97 corridor and that there are only a “couple of locations available for them to look at” under the current zoning bylaw. 

Mayor Maureen Pinkney stated that the council needs to be careful about what businesses they should allow on Highway 97. 

“I think we want to be careful what we allow there because it’s not a very long strip – there’s not that many spots that are open,” Pinkney said. “And we definitely want to have the right first impression to people when they come in.” 

Coun. Donna Barnett said that several types of businesses should not be on Highway 97, such as health and fitness facilities and offices. 

“We got offices on Birch Avenue upstairs – and all they are – their accountants, they are professional people and that’s where they belong.” 

Barnett noted that historically the corridor used to be a sort of free-for-all. 

“What happened on the highway years ago was that there was no economy – so (when) somebody came along and wanted to start a business the council of the day said go for it, because just about everything was empty – so that’s how we ended up with a mismatch.” 

Doddridge noted that she will begin to work on amendments based on the discussion that occurred, noting the glitches and problems that were encountered on the way. 

“I will be preparing a housekeeping amendment to take back to Council – it may take me a little bit of time.”

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