Kimberley City Council has received letters in support, and letters against, a proposed zoning variance the would allow for main floor tourist accommodation in the Platzl area.
And unfortunately for the proponent, who has already done renovations, Council was deadlocked on whether to allow the zoning variance and the motion was defeated.
At their regular meeting two weeks ago, council discussed a potential variance for 253 Wallinger Ave., the former Chamber of Commerce office.
It was reported to council that the proponent, who owns the entire building, had attempted for about a year to rent the commercial space but was unsuccessful. He therefore decided to renovate into tourist accommodation.
A building permit was issued for the renovation, although there was some miscommunication on what the intended use of the space was. The renovations were carried out the proponent applied for a short term rental license. That was when city staff became aware that it didn’t comply to zoning.
Coun. Jason McBain pointed out that some of the correspondence against the variance noted that commercial space was in demand in the Platzl area.
Mayor Don McCormick said that demand was variable. When the Watkins School project suggested some commercial space in their planned development near the Platzl, feedback was that it wasn’t needed.
“I accept the the space has been for rent for a year and there have been no takers,” he said. “He’s doing his best to get the place rented.”
McCormick asked the proponent, who had called into the meeting, if the renovations had already taken place and he said that they had. He hadn’t been aware until they were almost complete that a permit was required for short term rentals.
Manager of Planning Services Troy Pollock as asked if Planning, which originally had been in favour of allowing the variance, would still feel that way given the new information some of the letters had provided.
Pollock said he wasn’t sure.
“The staff report shared some of these concerns,” he said. “In the grand scheme of things it’s one single, very small unit. It’s not necessarily a permanent change. Tourist accommodation is allowed around the Platzl, just not on the main floor, so it’s a variance of a permitted use. But it probably should have come forward to council a lot sooner.”
Coun. McBain said he had no intention of making someone tear out work already done and therefore would vote for the variance.
“However, I do think which floor matters and it hasn’t been gone about in the best way.
However, Coun. Sandra Roberts said that she thought it wasn’t a good precedent to set and would vote against it.
Council was equally torn and in the end, McBain, Dallum and McCormick voted for the motion and Kitto, Roberts and Goodwin against. Coun. Darryl Oakley was absent. With a tie vote the motion was defeated and the proponent will not be able to use the space for short term tourist accommodation.