Municipal Planning Commission in an approving mood

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Say you want to set up a new business in town. And let’s further say the town’s land-use bylaw doesn’t list your type of business as one of the ‘permitted’ uses in that particular zone.

There are various hurdles to get over in that sort of scenario, and one of the earliest is the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC). This is a sort of arm’s-length body, set up but not controlled by town council. It reviews such applications, discusses them and votes on them. If your proposal gets a thumb’s up from the MPC, chances are pretty good council will approve it too.

The commission meets once per month, usually on the first Monday of the month. Thanks to COVID, the meetings are now viewable on Youtube. When the sound is working properly, you can hear what the agenda items are, what is said about them and how the members vote.

At the MPC’s Jan. 4 meeting several home-based businesses were up for their six-month review. All passed with flying colours. The MPC also approved the establishment of an asphalt plant on the west side of town and recommended a rezoning application for a commercial property on 6th Ave. SE be approved.

Home-based
Three home-based businesses, conditionally approved back in June of 2020, were up for their six-month review. This is the standard process for such things. If the neighbours have been complaining, this is when you would hear about it. But it was clear sailing for an esthetics salon on 6th Ave. NW, a nail bar on 12th St. SE and a massage therapy business – also on 12 St. SE. All were approved for continued operation with no questions and no discussion.

Asphalt
Ruel Concrete, a new company located on Caribou Trail, is the one applying for approval of an asphalt plant. The MPC was advised about the likelihood of noise and dust being a problem for the nearest neighbours. According to what they heard, it shouldn’t be. The noise produced is not expected to exceed that of “a noisy restaurant.” As for the dust, the proponent says the equipment will have “dust collectors.”

The property in question is in the M2 industrial zone, which is the one reserved for the noisier and dustier types of industrial use. It’s an anomaly, because most of the M2-zoned area is north of the airport and therefore further from residences. The group was advised the company hopes to install a concrete plant as well. But that was not part of the application in question. It may come up later this year.

Moving into downtown
Finally, the owner of a strip mall on 6th Ave. SE wants to join his neighbour from across the street in moving into the downtown commercial (C-1) zoning category. The reason?

“He would like a broader list of uses,” said the town’s planning and development director Laurie Skrynyk, advising the group. “There are more opportunities in the C-1.”

Building value report
The MPC meeting, as usual, included a building value report. In this case it had the figures for the entire year of 2020. As slow as it was for housing starts, it beat 2019. But it was still well below the average number, which Skrynyk said was 18-20 housing starts per year since she’s been involved.
“We’re nowhere near that,” she said.

Slave Lake had four building starts in 2020, compared to one in 2019. The value was pegged at just over $1 million – all of it residential construction.

The MPC also re-appointed Shirley Torresan-Chykerda as chair and Syed Shah as vice chair.

The next MPC meeting is Monday, Feb. 1.

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