An application was recently denied by the Bonnyville Town Council for a proposed Indoor storage facility at the vacant Southview motel located at 5401 5Oth Ave.
On Tuesday, April 27, elected officials turned down the application for the conditional purchase of the property.
However, the application was not denied without the input of the Downtown Revitalization Advisory Committee (DTRC).
“Although that site is currently an eyesore that we’d like to see gone, I am still strongly in support of our vision for revitalizing downtown,”
Member Louise White-Gibbs said. “This new business is definitely not something that’s conducive to our recent discussions on planning. It does not promote a walkable, attractive, and active downtown. So if it were up to me (and I know it isn’t lol) I’d vote no.”
Member Sal Naim spoke up during the meeting and disclosed that he is an adjacent and nearby landowner to the subject property in question.
“I am not sure but if this ever came to a vote within our committee I might have to recuse myself given a potential conflict,” Naim explained to the committee. “As an impacted land/business owner I intend on making a formal objection to this change of use by way of letter to the MPC. I can not overstate how negatively I feel this would impact my current businesses and future investment intentions.
Naim says the whole point of zoning is to provide that degree of confidence to risk-takers to commit to making investments within a town/city at certain sites.
“If this is permitted to pass what is to stop future developments like this on main street?” Naim said during deliberations. “Would we
not be by way of approving this be condoning current “storage” uses of some other main street properties?”
Naim asked the committee “What about sea cans and regular garden sheds – are those then now permitted if they are aesthetically pleasing. Would I be permitted to store RVs and Skidoos on my three lots next to the abandoned police station if I put a fence around the property?”
Naim says as a member of the Downtown Revitalization Advisory Committee he can not think of a bigger blow to the committee’s efforts than seeing a development like this happen.
“This would be incredibly demoralizing to any vision we may set out and really would bring into to question what the whole point of this committee is? The existing building is at its end of useful life as it is nearing 60 years old – and it needs major work,” Naim said. “This proposed development would be better suited in a different part of the town with more appropriate zoning. And there are many other such sites currently available.”
Member Kristen Kress said she agrees with member Louise White-Gibbs.
“I think that the worst part of the plan is that it would be fenced. I think it would be another wasted opportunity to promote development in accordance with the vision and plan,” Kress said.
Member Councillor Elisa Brosseau said that she agreed with all of the other comments from committee members.
“I don’t believe that this type of business would suit our downtown revitalization efforts and will ensure that I represent our committee’s
comments and perspective accordingly to the MPC,” Brosseau said.
Member Morris Mickalyk says after a weekend of thought and a site visit his opinion is this request should be denied
for the following reasons.
- These applicants’ plan of a business is not conducive to the DTRC visions to step up the visual and economic section of downtown.
- There also has to be a consideration to adjacent landowner perspective and the economic impact that this approval might have on them
- This building is a sixty-year-old structure, does it maybe need an inspection prior to any plans of upgrades? What is the life expectancy of the building? Again my opinion is to deny the request.
Member Sharla McCullough said she agrees with all of the comments made during the deliberations.
“This type of business does not align with the vision and long-term goals of this committee,” McCullough said. “Although it would be great to see this property developed and a business in operation I don’t believe this to be suitable for a downtown core.”
Member Councillor Chad Colbourne said he was “Excited to see someone’s interest in the motel and the courage to do something
with it, I feel this would be a big mistake for Main Street.”
Colbourne says this will discourage the businesses that already exist in any endeavor of changing the landscape in that specific part of the downtown.
“The town already has some ongoing challenges with Luciak Bussing and the storage facility that seems to grow by one or two busses a month,” Councillor Colbourne said. “We need to be careful, but more importantly strategic in how we start a change movement of our downtown core. With that said, I’m not in favour of a storage facility but would love to come up with a solution and/or alternative for the individual looking to purchase the south view. Remember we want to encourage business to open but also ensure its the proper place for them to operate.”
The application itself was refused by Council. The Mayor says elected officials will work with the developer to find another location for the storage facility.