When a block-long brick building comes down like the Union Hotel, no doubt there will be impacts to neighbouring businesses.
With teardown expected to begin in the next few weeks, this matter came up during a public hearing at Trail City Hall on Monday, although the pre-council meeting was geared toward zoning changes being made to the former hotel and its surrounding properties.
Two citizens spoke to council. One had questions about the effects of demolition on nearby merchants. The other, a longtime Cedar Avenue business owner, voiced apprehension about future development as the properties sit on a large and very visible slice of downtown Trail.
Margaret Crawford presented on behalf of Comfort Walk Shoes, located a few doors down from the soon-to-be demolished 1144 Cedar Avenue.
She asked if businesses in close proximity would be advised ahead of time about how to best protect their merchandise or if hours of operation would have to be varied to accommodate what will likely be very dusty work.
Chief Administrative Officer David Perehudoff replied that the city would be meeting via teleconference with the contractor, Dakota Reclamators Ltd., this week. As well, the company is expecting to mobilize and be in the city to start work next week.
“At that point in time we will discuss all the issues associated with demolition, and the associated impacts to the neighbouring properties, including whether or not there is a need to come up with a plan that looks at traffic control and to address any other servicing issues over the course of the project,” he explained.
“More specifically, the city or contractor will directly consult with the neighbouring properties, not only to advise in terms of the process and schedule, but if there will be any business interruptions or concerns associated with any aspect of the demo and how it will affect each businesses,” Perehudoff said.
“Our goal is to minimize any disruption, and to try to work within reasonable parameters so businesses can stay open and aren’t negatively impacted.”
Further, there is a plan to install a camera across from the site that will stream the demolition online, similar to what the city did during the Columbia River Skywalk and Riverfront Centre builds.
“This will provide the public with the opportunity to view progress directly as the building is torn town and the site is restored,” Perehudoff told the Trail Times on Tuesday.
Rino Merlo, owner of the former City Bakery, also addressed council.
“I am not here to complain about the zoning,” he began. “I want to caution council, I’ve seen developments in downtown Trail that were pushed through because it was felt that Trail needed development, whether it was good or bad.”
Downtown is evolving, especially in the past few years, Merlo continued.
“It’s changing and we have to recognize and feed that,” he said. “But we are running out of land downtown, and not only is it (Union Hotel properties) owned by the city , but also by the people of Trail.
“The downtown area has to participate (with development) and it has to benefit by this development,” said Merlo.
“And I am quite sure the commercial property owners would work with the City of Trail in regards to that development … because it has to benefit the entire downtown Trail.”
Later, during the regular meeting, council gave three readings to consolidate the zoning to “C1” or general commercial for all three properties associated with the Union Hotel demolition.
Uniform zoning designation to C1 provides a broader mix of uses, including professional offices and retail businesses. The current designation of highway commercial, or “C5,” allows for uses like service stations and car washes, which are not considered to be suitable for the site.