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Education centre request raises concerns with Yorkton Council

Council chose to send the matter to committee for further feedback.
School supplies - Getty
Council raised concerns with a Zoning Bylaw application to allow for Dream Builders High School as a Public Education Services use at 464 Broadway Street East. (Getty Images)

YORKTON -  An application to amend the Zoning Bylaw to allow for Dream Builders High School as a Public Education Services use within Unit 2 – 464 Broadway Street East, led to much discussion at Yorkton Council at its regular meeting Monday.

But while Administration recommended the application not be approved, Council chose to send the matter to committee for further feedback before saying ‘yay’ or ‘nay’. 

Before delving into questions Councillor Randy Goulden wanted to know if the application had gone before the Planning and Infrastructure Committee for their feedback? 

“I want to see it go to the committee to get the public’s input on this,” she said. 

Michael Eger - Director of Planning, Building & Development with the city replied it had not, but ultimately Council would request its committee review the request before they make a final decision. 

But, clearly, administration was not on-side for the proposed education use at the location. 

“There are a lot of things with this application logistically . . . a lot of regulatory problems,” said City Manager Lonnie Kaal. “There’s a lot more to it than a one-off (decision). 

“This would take a lot of time to get through the processes. . . The bottom line is it just doesn’t fit” 

Coun. Darcy Zaharia asked if “technically it’s doable?” 

“It’s doable holistically but it opens up a lot of things you might not want to see,” replied Kaal. 

At the same time there was a recognition of the need for the facility generally. 

“We all agree there’s a need in the city for this type of education facility,” suggested Eger. 

“It’s a very, very good program,” agreed Goulden. “I don’t think anyone disputes that.” 

The condominium is currently in an area zoned C-3 Highway Commercial and the proposed use is prohibited in the C-3 zoning district, Eger explained Monday. 

The property is established as a Condominium Plan with one building consisting of two separately owned units, as well as the common property land surrounding the building. 

In addition to the condominium status of the land, this is a very unique situation, in that there are no existing zoning districts which allow for both Public Education Services use proposed in Unit 2, and the current Retail Sales use operating in Unit 1, noted Eger. 

“Because we have never encountered a rezoning application affecting a building condominium, Planning Services sought guidance from the Ministry of Government Relations, Community Planning Branch. Through many discussions with the Ministry, we have been advised that zoning is specific to a parcel or site and cannot be varied between condominium units. As such, rezoning would be applicable to the entire site and have impacts on all units,” he explained. 

The purpose of the C-3 Highway Commercial district is to provide for commercial development in areas along major access routes at entry points to the City. Permitted uses include, but are not limited to, auto body repair and paint shops, crematoriums, entertainment/drinking establishments, funeral services, hotels and motels, manufactured home sales facilities, contractor facilities and retail stores including liquor and cannabis retailers, said Eger. 

“Existing business in the immediate area include Value Tire, Fedorowich Construction, Affordable Mattress, Farm Credit Canada and Secon Constructors Inc. These uses vary considerably, but include a mix of quasi-industrial and more typical commercial uses. Mixing Public Education Services and bringing high school-aged youth to this area is therefore not compatible with the neighbouring uses,” he continued. 

Eger said administration does have concerns with the use being proposed. 

“While the applicant believes the building is suitable for the proposed use, Administration is not satisfied that the property is suitable for the educational services use,” he said. 

The building location is the issue, said Eger. 

“The applicant has indicated that the building is suitable for their needs in size and layout, however, Administration notes that significant upgrades, including water capacity modelling to ensure capacity for the addition of a sprinkler system, service connection upgrades and additional washrooms will likely be required,” he said. 

“To accommodate the educational services use, the site will require additional parking and loading spaces. While there is adequate area to accommodate this, hard surfacing (paving), including on-site storm water management, will also be required. In addition, the site lacks developed outdoor amenity space for students while on breaks which, while not required, would be strongly recommended.” 

Coun. Darcy Zaharia asked if not at the site proposed, where did administration see as better locations. 

Eger said there are vacant parcels of land, like that across Gladstone Ave. from Sacred Heart High School, or a portion of the old Fairview School location, or near Yorkdale Central School that while requiring new buildings be built, are more natural for an education centre. 

Eger said looking ahead other issues could arise too. 

“If the City were to allow for a school use on this site, it should likely consider pedestrian infrastructure improvements such as a multi-use pathway or sidewalks, and an improved crossing at Lawrence Ave and Broadway St. Problematically, there is insufficient street right-of-way to allow for these improvements, and additional alterations or land acquisitions would be required,” he said. 

“Further, the City may be forced to entertain speed limit reductions, as the location of this site and current lack of pedestrian infrastructure could lead to safety concerns for students and educators.” 

With the various concerns Coun. Ken Chyz questioned whether the city had jurisdiction. 

“Do we have the authority?” he asked. 

Egers said they did, but as it would involve altering the Official City Plan which is ultimately approved by the province, they will have a say. 

“The province would be very scrutinous with this,” he suggested. 

Mayor Hippsley said the request is a difficult one. 

“I want to see this work,” he said, then added “there’s a whole whack of complications that come with this.”