Downtown development permit application denied

“The plan’s objective for the downtown core is to maintain its significance as a primary retail commercial outlet.” Town of Ponoka

A request to open a home-based business on Chipman Avenue was declined by the Town of Ponoka.

The application came from Mark and Amy Tisdall, who wanted to convert business space — formerly the Complete Wellness Centre — at 5023 50 Avenue to an art and interior design studio with residential space at the rear of the building.

The area zoned is discretionary use and residences may be allowed in the central commercial district zoning area.

Adjacent landowners were notified of the application and Betty Jurykoski, planning and development officer, said objections from neighbours were strong.

She said Mr. Tisdall had spoken with businesses on Chipman Avenue prior to making the application but she wanted to ensure proper steps were followed, which is why the letter was sent to residents.

One of the reasons the applicants were denied was because Jurykoski received three “strenuous” objections from adjacent landowners.

“That was enough, in my mind, to refuse the application,” she explained.

The applicants wanted a closed storefront that would open for appointments only, and this was contrary to objectives in the Municipal Development Plan.

“The plan’s objective for the downtown core is to maintain its significance as a primary retail commercial outlet,” states the refusal letter.

“They (businesses) want to see an active downtown,” said Jurykoski, in an interview.

Approving the request is inconsistent with plans for the downtown core, the letter continued. The Tisdalls had 14 days from the date of the issue of the notice, which was made Feb. 19.

Support for the project appeared slim. The Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter opposed to the application.

“We have the need for growth in the downtown business core. Having said that, we feel that business locations need regulations to ensure that they are business-based and not residential-based,” a letter from the chamber states.

A suggestion was made to town planners that more structured guidelines for development are needed in the business areas of Ponoka and the chamber offered its services to provide help if needed.

Chamber president Jim Hamilton said he feels the organization should take on a more active role advocating its members needs and when dealing with the town.

“I just very strongly believe that the chamber has to do something for its membership,” said Hamilton.

The chamber is in discussion with its members to determine if advocating members’ needs is a desired direction for the future.

The Tisdalls were not reachable for comment at press time.