Unlicensed Naturopath in Powell River Zoning M1: Staff

Sole practitioner of naturopathic medicine wants to set up in a building zoned for industrial use

A medical practice wants to set up an office in a rental unit in an industrial park, but city staff have recommended that the Powell River town council not support the request.

During the August 16 Committee of the Whole, planner Rachel Pukesh presented an initiative to issue a temporary use license for the medical practice at 7373 Duncan Street, near Powell River Airport. Staff interpreted the zoning bylaw to determine that medical practice is not permitted within the M1 zoning for the building, so an application for a temporary use permit was made, according to a staff report.

“The Temporary Use Permit is requested to permit commercial use for a naturopathic medical practice to occupy a unit in an industrial estate business park,” Pukesh said. “Under the Official Community Plan, the property has a land use designation for Employment Lands, which is intended to encompass the town’s industrial base and residential uses that generate intensive levels of employment that may benefit from the proximity of the airport.”

Pukesh said the M1 zone supports industrial uses and some commercial service uses.

“In this situation, the proposed tenant is the sole practitioner of a naturopathic medicine practice,” Pukesh said. “It falls under the zoning bylaw definition of a personal service establishment, which includes medical offices. Personal service establishments are permitted uses in most commercial and mixed-use areas of the city, which are concentrated in our commercial corridors. It makes sense to concentrate compatible commercial uses in these areas, as these areas are more pedestrian and transit oriented and are closer to denser family developments.

“The city’s zoning bylaw does not recognize personal service establishments as an industrial use; they are not listed as permitted use in the M1 area, which is why this Temporary Use Permit application is before you today.

Pukesh said staff contacted commercial property owners in other areas of the city to see if they had any commercial zoned space to rent.

“Staff received prompt and enthusiastic responses, with an inventory of available properties that are either move-in ready or where the landlord is ready to build or renovate to suit a particular tenant,” Pukesh said. “Staff recognize that this unit in the Duncan Street building may be attractive to the tenant due to its size, rental rates and move-in-ready condition. However, allowing commercial uses to occupy industrial space could be seen as perpetuating existing vacancy rates in commercial core areas of the city. Staff is of the view that this litmus test of reviewing a Temporary Use Permit has not been met.

“Staff recognize that it would be very easy to say ‘what’s the harm in allowing this temporary use permit’, as it is true that the proposed tenant is providing a service to the community in a practice specialized medical and operations would have negligible impact in terms of noise or parking.But these same reasons explain why this use should be directed to existing commercial land.There is a risk of setting precedents by issuing this permit for temporary use, which may seek to undermine the intent of the industrial area, as well as perpetuate vacancy rates in commercial areas, which would benefit from use. this temporary use permit.

A precedent has been set, according to the mayor

Mayor Dave Formosa said the case was tough. He said he went to physiotherapy in that building and he went to massage therapy there, in addition to having lunch there and going to a gym.

“I hear what you’re saying about zoning, but precedent was set years ago,” Formosa said. “This building is losing tenants, it has a huge tax base, and if I owned this building, I would be looking for some kind of area that would allow for mixed use.

“It is becoming more and more difficult to find offices in Powell River. »

Pukesh said gyms and fitness centers are allowed under zoning, along with restaurants.

“A lot of these mixed uses have always been allowed in the M1 zone,” Pukesh said. “It’s just how we interpret desktop usage.”

Councilor Cindy Elliott said physiotherapy is defined as a health center and the application before the committee is not.

“I don’t really understand,” Elliott said.

Pukesh said the staff would revert to the zoning bylaw definition of a personal service establishment, which includes medical or dental practice.

Councilor George Doubt said offices of a similar nature have been located in the building and staff have allowed this to happen. He said the settlement is now interpreted to mean that the application would not be approved and that the solution sought was a temporary use permit.

“That was a concern I had when we started talking about temporary use permits,” Doubt said. “This is not the right tool to use to try to solve the problem. Dealing with zoning makes a lot more sense than trying to fix it with a hammer.

Councilor Maggie Hathaway suggested that the committee direct staff to advise council of their intention to consider issuing a Temporary Use Permit to permit the use of a personal service setting at the Duncan Street.

“We can see if people have any objections,” Hathaway said. She moved a motion asking committee staff to provide advice, which was carried unanimously.

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