Today’s Poll

Development set for St Saviours Hall moves to public plateau

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
September 6th, 2011

A re-development slated for St. Saviours Hall on Carbonate Street raised concerns on City council about setting the precedence for commercial “sliding” from downtown into residential Uphill.

With the hall building of the landmark church — over 110 years old — slated to be sold (contingent upon approval of the zoning amendment), council had the task in their regular council meeting Tuesday night of digesting the parameters of the proposal to see if it was palatable for Uphill.

The owner of Cottonwood Falls animal clinic is proposing to rezone the property in order to legitimize a comprehensive development that includes a theatre, office, assembly use, a residence and permit a veterinary clinic.

As part of the application, Dr. Theresa Hart would relocate the veterinary clinic from the 700 block of Vernon Street to the main floor of the northern portion of the building, allowing for the possibility to convert the existing hall to a residence in the future.

“Some would call this commercial creep,” said Coun. Donna Macdonald. “And I think this would be something for council to be aware of. This amendment would allow that in this case.”

She wanted to hear from the public on the issue.

Senior City planner Dave Wahn said the proposal gives the heritage building new life.

“But at the same time protects the neighbourhood as much as possible so a full range of commercial uses can’t be brought into that site,” he said.

The office space used by the francophone society would remain untouched at this time, a City staff report read, as would the TNT Playhouse theatre and the assembly hall space.

The Official Community Plan designated the property as institutional, requiring an amendment to a mixed-use designation to support the proposed uses.

However, the OCP does not generally support retail and office commercial uses being located outside  of the downtown, or within existing buildings outside of lower Uphill.

The hall is in close proximity to the lower Uphill area (one block north of Silica) and the downtown area, and the proposal is for the re-use of an existing building.

“That wasn’t meant to be a strict line, generally in that area itself,” said City manager Kevin Cormack about commercial uses beyond the downtown core. “It was really meant to be a guideline as opposed to a solid line.”

Nevertheless, there is a principle of commercial creep, said Coun. Macdonald.

“The other case is how will this affect the neighbourhood? I think it is just worth being careful about this, “ she said.

“We will have a public hearing and that will likely come out,” said Mayor John Dooley.

Parking will also be an issue, said Macdonald, even though the developer said they plan to walk to work, as would their employees. There is absolutely no parking available on the property and it is all on street.

“That might not be a concern right now, but it could in a few years if things change,” said Coun. Macdonald.

But the use within the building there right now do not comply with the bylaw in place for that area, said Wahn. Going through a rezoning amendment for the site allows some opportunity to rectify the matter, he added.

“No matter what we do on this building, parking will be a problem,” he said.

Hart held a neighbourhood meeting on Aug. 7 and also made a presentation to the Advisory Planning Commission on Aug. 16. The APC said the rezoning application should be approved,

Council passed first and second reading of the zoning amendment to the OCP, first and second reading of a land use regulation amendment, a passed setting a public hearing on the proposal.

Coun. Marg Stacey excused herself from the debate, claiming a conflict of interest.!/TheNelsonDaily

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