Business owner frustrated with bylaw

Insular thinking is not compatible with the divergent interests of a business community.

My problems began with Trail City Council four months ago. The main problem here is if it can happen to one business owner it can happen to any business owner.

I decided in December, 2011, to downsize a large retail space by half square footage to an office space. It was a financially wise decision in a tight economy. Almost immediately I was told by the City Administrator I would also need to pay $12,000 upfront for four additional off- street parking spaces. Zoning Bylaw 2503 Section (32/4) also states “the owner shall show just cause to the satisfaction of Council why the required off-street parking cannot be provided on site.”

So I began writing a series of letters and visiting the Mayor’s office to discuss this issue.

On March 13, I was told to apply for a variance and write another letter to the Mayor outlining my concerns. This took four pages. On March 19, I was invited to make a representation at Council’s March 26 meeting. Finally, I was delighted and hopeful to discuss my concerns and resolve a compromise. On March 21, the council’s agenda File 3090-01 shows this recommendation: That Council deny the application for issuance of a Development Variance Permit that would waive the off-street parking requirements and associated fee as it relates to the renovation to the building at 1199 Pine Avenue.

On March 26, I was told in the chamber that I could talk before or after the council’s other agendas.

It was not explained that the motion had already been discussed “at length” behind closed doors and already recommended which was passed unanimously by the Council with no input or debate on my part.

Needless to say, I felt betrayed and foolish.  I still can’t understand how council can justify contravening a statement on this very bylaw.  Can anybody?

The point is all my letters have outlined several reasons why such a heavy handed bylaw is restrictive to business growth in Trail.

For example, the City of Nelson has no such expenditure for established buildings regardless of office conversion.

A young couple who wished to relocate their financial services business to Trail was dismayed to hear about these extra costs.

All my letters have emphasized the need for co-operation and compromise to help stimulate growth in Trail’s downtown core.  This was a matter for all owners of property who made an investment in Trail years ago.

The reality is the value of many of the properties and buildings is not the same as the insurance that must be paid and the value of resale keeps going down as the down town core slowly seems to be disappearing.

But all this hope and effort fell on deaf ears. So what lesson can we all learn about this city council?

Insular thinking is not compatible with the divergent interests of a business community.

Jim Berukoff

Trail