The Town of Blackfalds says it’s not in the business of driving out business following frustration aired on social media by a local auto shop.
On Aug. 26, 2019, Granden Auto made a post to their Facebook page following a decision made by the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) and Subdivision Development Appeal Board (SDAB) regarding the issuance of a business development permit that came with a number of restrictions.
“The Town of Blackfalds has told us that Granden Auto is no longer welcome in Blackfalds. They may say otherwise, but the new development permit has limited what we can do, and the permit will expire in 2 years,” wrote Granden Auto. “They say we can change oil, we just can’t store old oil in our storage yard; we can still sell and fix tires, we just can’t store old tires in our storage yard; we can still change your shocks, we just can’t store the old parts in our storage yard…They want us out and they want us out now.”
Granden Auto, which is located at 4618 East Railway St., is in a C1 Downtown Commercial zoning area. The zoning allows for automotive repair service including light trucks, small cars and small equipment. With larger units being repaired on the site, such as an RV that appeared to be occupied and noted to have remained on site since November 2017, the shop was notified in January their current development permit did not allow for heavy duty repair.
Granden Auto says they have been fixing “everything” since 1998, but when they applied for a new business development permit for change in use of the property, were given a set of restrictions, which include the discontinuation of unregistered vehicles on their land, as well as the accumulation of vehicle parts, and a set timeframe for repairs to be completed, which they believes inhibits their ability to do business, particularly with lengthy, long-term repair projects.
Speculation and rumours on social media suggested the town was trying to drive the business out in order to accomodate the downtown revitalization plan which includes plans for a strip mall along the nearby train tracks, however, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Myron Thompson says that’s not true.
“The Town of Blackfalds values all business including Granden Auto. We know the importance of their business to the community and also value the work that their business performs on our municipality’s fleet,” said Thompson in an explanation provided to the Lacombe Globe.
“The municipality has not and is not taking on any activity to cause harm to the business conducted by Granden Auto. In fact we have been working with (the owner) to expand the repair to include that of heavy duty repair of equipment.”
The new permit that was issued is in place until 2022, which Thompson says gives time for the Town of Blackfalds to update the Land Use Bylaw with ammendments offered to Granden Auto on a permanent basis, however, in the meantime, the business has been given until Sept. 30 to meet compliance with the Land Use Bylaw.
An SDAB hearing for Granden Auto’s objections to the conditions that came with the permit was held on July 29. The minutes, findings and rationale for their decision can be viewed by the public through SDAB minutes in the Aug. 27 council agenda package on the Town of Blackfalds website.
The SDAB is a semi-judiciary body that, as per the Municipal Government Act (MGA), town council has no jurisdiction over.
Board & Committee Policy
The town will be reviewing and updating their Board and Committee Policy in order to streamline the application process for municipal volunteers.
At their last regular meeting, town council voted unanimously in favour of undertaking the review. The last time a review was done was in 2008.
Town of Blackfalds residents will soon be able to stay engaged with what council is doing from the comfort of their own home.
A live streaming system is expected to be installed this week and the goal is to live stream their next council meeting on Sept. 10, 2019 at 7 p.m. in Council Chambers at the Civic Cultural Centre.
Links for the public to watch are expected to be provided via the town’s social media.
Other town notes
The town will host the annual Community Info Expo on Monday, Sept. 9 at the Abbey Centre Field House.
Running from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., the expo gives residents a chance to register for sports and other community programs, and learn more about groups and organizations within the community.
Town council and staff will also be on hand to talk with residents about the upcoming 2020 Municipal Budget deliberations.
The Town will also unveil the latest draft of the Multi-Plex Arena Expansion Project at an open house Sept. 12 at 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. on the second floor of the arena. Construction is expected to begin in Spring 2020.