‘Misunderstanding’ delays project approval
by Phil Ambroziak
What interim city manager Richard Levesque is now describing as a misunderstanding has resulted in a temporary delay in development plans for a Meadow Lake entrepreneur.
Dave Nelson, who formerly owned and operated tire shops on 1st Avenue West and in the industrial park, is planning to open a similar shop at 16 Commercial Cres. Construction was expected to begin last week, but was put on hold when city council defeated a motion to approve Nelson’s development application.
Although Mayor Gary Vidal said the application appeared to meet all the necessary requirements, councillor Toby Esterby said he felt insulted to find the application in council’s July 9 meeting agenda, claiming work appeared to already be underway at the site since the beginning of the month
“This application is in my council agenda tonight awaiting approval, but what looks like pilings to me have already gone into the ground and it appears the beginnings of construction are underway,” Esterby said. “Perhaps I’m just disgruntled and it may just be that my feelings are hurt, but is there a legitimate reason within the zoning bylaw not to approve this application?”
In response to Esterby’s question, Levesque said Nelson should have approval from council before beginning construction, a concern shared by councillor Richard Reed and others.
“I’d like to table it (application),” remarked councillor Curtis Paylor. “Everybody has to play by the rules.”
Vidal noted he did not disagree with councillors’ concerns, but said commercial building applications have never been a major cause for concern in the past.
“I think this is grounds to deny it altogether,” noted councillor Annette Klassen. “The main point is construction has started. That’s a serious problem. We could totally deny it and I think that’s what we have to do to stop things like this from happening in the future.”
Council subsequently defeated the motion, a decision Nelson was not aware of until contacted the following day to make an official comment. He claimed he was only conducting groundwork at the site, as he knew he wouldn’t have council approval until the July 9 meeting at the earliest.
“I phoned the mayor and told him what was going on, and he said he would email the councillors and explain my side to them,” he said. “Apparently, it will now be up for approval at the next council meeting.”
This was confirmed by Levesque.
“It was all just a bit of a misunderstanding,” he said. “He was doing some groundwork there for water and sewer. It’s not like he was already putting the building up or anything.”
In spite of the delay, the new building, a 1,200-plus square-foot structure, is expected to be completed by mid-August.
The next council meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 23.