Council divided over temporary use permits in Sicamous’ downtown - Salmon Arm Observer

2022-07-20 23:27:41 By : Ms. Loretta Z

Sicamous council has asked staff for a report on allowing temporary use permits to be issued for properties designated Town Centre in the district’s official community plan. (District of Sicamous image)

Permits not currently allowed for properties with Town Centre designation

The topic of temporary use permits in Sicamous’ town centre created some discord in council.

On the agenda for district council’s July 13 meeting was a recommendation from staff asking for direction to prepare a report considering the Town Centre as a temporary use permit (TUP) area.

TUPs in Sicamous allow uses not permitted in an existing zone to be considered within official community plan (OCP) areas designated Highway Commercial, Marine, Residential and Industrial, but not Town Centre. A TUP can be issued for up to three years and can be renewed once for a time period no longer than three years.

“The ability to issue temporary use permits can allow for flexibility in the zoning regulations, but on a temporary basis and with conditions aimed at addressing potential negative impacts on the community, neighbourhood and environment,” staff explained in a report to council.

The recommendation prompted an allegation it had come to council to benefit a particular property owner pursuing a TUP to allow RVs and parking. It was later explained, however, that the property owner’s lots are already in areas that support TUPs. Mayor Terry Rysz and staff explained the recommendation was sparked by plans for the Paradise Motel and a desire by the new owners to allow RVs on the property, to generate revenue towards future development. Staff commented the owner wishes to add a mixed-use commercial/residential building that would include apartments for their family but also for either sale or rent.

Couns. Colleen Anderson and Ryan Airey didn’t support deviating from the OCP by allowing TUPs in the Town Centre.

Read more: Sicamous council raises concerns around short-term rentals and proposed bylaw

Read more: Sicamous council approves permit for six-storey building on Best Western property

“I haven’t gotten a great feeling for temporary use permits in my time here,” said Airey. “I think they get abused, people get a permit to do something and then they do in-ground works… and we don’t look very nice if we don’t grant another temporary use permit. I just think they take up a lot of time and they generally don’t do the neighbours of these properties any good.”

Coun. Malcolm Makayev was the most outspoken in opposition to allowing TUPs in the Town Centre, arguing it removes the incentive for property owners to develop and grow the downtown.

“If we allow this we might as well forget about our OCP,” said Makayev. “A temporary use permit is, from some of the uses I’ve seen… just a back door to bypass all our bylaws in zoning and just make some cheap revenue without a lot of outlay of cash… If we allow temporary use permits, we’re not going to see development.”

Coun. Gord Bushell argued the situation needed to be looked at from the developers’ side, that “the cost of owning a piece of property, a commercial piece of property, is very, very expensive and you do have to make it pay.”

“We can turn down any temporary use permit we want,” said Bushell. “Council can do that. And for this gentleman to come into our community, spend over a million dollars… for his hotel there, and he wants to phase in a development… you can’t do it overnight and he’s looking for a little way to pay the taxes and other expenses…”

When it came to a vote, only Couns. Airey and Anderson were opposed. Makayev explained his support was to acquire more information.

“I might vote yes for this, but by me voting yes doesn’t mean that I’ll be voting yes down the road,” said Makayev. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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