Warfield residents voice opposition to converting vacant church

“Strikes me that just about everyone in this room might think it’s a good idea today, but we fear the skunk down the road.”

Buying an old village church and turning it into a mom-and-pop shop hasn’t been the peaceful venture Tina and Roger Larose hoped for.

“We’ve owned a house in Warfield for eight years now,” Tina said, addressing a roomful of Warfield residents Tuesday evening. “We just love it here and want to retire here. We want to be part of the community, have our business contained in the church, and make it nice to fit in with everything else that is here.”

The couple plans to develop the former St. Joseph’s Church into a retail site. First, they need to have the Lytton Street property, which has been vacant 15 years, rezoned into General Commercial (C2).

That means going through a process of amending the village’s bylaw – which included the public hearing prior to council’s decision on the change.

Too much traffic, no parking, and fear of the future was the general consensus among 30 residents who addressed Warfield council Tuesday night, voicing reasons why the politicians should refuse the Larose’s request.

“These are nice people and it seems like a nice business,” said one Forrest Drive resident. “That’s today. You, Mr Mayor, and members of your council have to think not just about today but the future,” he added.

“Strikes me that just about everyone in this room might think it’s a good idea today, but we fear the skunk down the road.”

At times, the open discussion veered to already existing businesses in the community, rather than focusing on the issue at hand.

“I’ve been dealing with a C2 business behind my house for about 15 years now,” said another Forrest Drive homeowner. “The Village of Warfield hasn’t held them accountable to the bylaws,” he continued. “If we zone this commercially we open ourselves up to what other commercial properties in the village look like. If we open it up and there is no bylaw enforcement then we are opening ourselves up to that disaster possibly moving further out.”

Mayor Ted Pahl pointed out that if the bylaw is amended, conditions exist on the property. For example, all commercial activity is restricted to the alley side of the building – meaning no signage or access to the future retail site would be permitted on Forrest Drive. He clarified that all commercial activity would be conducted on the portion of the property facing the alley, and all inventories would be stored inside the building during non-business hours.

“This is not going to be a junk store,” reiterated Roger Larose. “It will be a liquidation store with the majority of stuff on the newer side. Junk will not be scattered everywhere, it will be clean and a nice place to walk into.”

Tina echoed her husband’s description of the business, which she said will include a woman’s boutique, select antiques, home decor and other specialty items.

“This represents our family,” she said. “It has been our goal for 10 years, so you will see flowers and a trimmed lawn, but no junk.”

Other comments suggested an increase in vehicles on Forrest Drive could put neighbourhood children in harms way and more cars in the lot’s back alley would further congest traffic and parking.

“I am opposed to more traffic and particularly the parking,” said another resident. “Lytton Street is a main artery to parts of Warfield and very heavy with traffic and lots (of traffic) from the gas station,” he added. “And parking is premium at all times.”

Realtor Ron Allibone was on hand to support the Larose’s bid for a rezoning.

“We’ve been trying hard to work on this deal for a long time and have something done with the church,” said Allibone. “If you could go in now you would see how bad the vacancy of the building is hurting the building.”

Any construction at the site would require permits, building inspectors, and plans include paving the property for designated parking, he explained.

“An empty building is not a healthy building,” Allibone continued. “Change is hard for everybody, but we’ve got a very nice couple here than want a chance to open a good business.”

Pahl brought the meeting to a close shortly after, saying council would review the public feedback and deliver a decision during the first meeting in September.

 

Just Posted

The Trail Smoke Eaters will open the 2021 season on Oct. 8 against the Cranbrook Bucks in Cranbrook, and will have their home opener the next night against the same Bucks. Photo: Jack Murray
BC Hockey League announces 54-game schedule to begin in October

Trail Smoke Eaters open season with home-and-home series versus Cranbrook Bucks

“The Spirit of Family” enhances the Beaver Valley both in the daytime and at night. Photo: Submitted
Family sculpture installed at the Fruitvale Memorial Hall

Locals are encouraged to swing by Fruitvale Memorial Hall to take a… Continue reading

In 1927, swimmers enjoyed a day in the water at the CGIT and CSET Camp in Summerland. While none of the people in this photograph have smart phones, there is some debate about whether a beach image from the United Kingdom in 1943 shows a man using a smart phone. (Photograph courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
COLUMN: The mystery of the time-travelling tourist

Was the man in a 1943 photograph checking his smart phone?

The flotation line at Gyro Park beach in East Trail, shown here during low water, is for emergency purposes only and does not delineate a safe swimming area. Photo: Trail Times file
City of Trail cautions beach users

Gyro Park beach questions should be directed to the roads superintendent at 250.364.0817.

Presently in Canada, it is illegal to be in possession of a personal stun gun. Use of this tool is only licensed to federal and provincial police officers. The personal use of stun guns by unlicensed civilians is considered to be illegal and considered under the Canadian Criminal Code to be the equivalent of a weapon. Anyone found importing or in possession of a personal stun gun and is not a licensed law enforcement officer can be prosecuted under the Canadian Criminal Code. Photo: BC RCMP
Trail man faces weapons charge after police confiscate stun gun

The incident took place on Sunday near downtown Trail

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Grace (left), a caribou that was born in a maternal pen north of Revelstoke, is alive and well said the province. It appears she even has a calf. Maternity pens aim to increase caribou calf survival by protecting them from predation until they are older and less vulnerable. (Contributed)
For the first time in years, caribou numbers increasing near Revelstoke

North herd growing but south herd still concerning

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Most Read