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Proposed zoning changes would restrict mini-storage businesses

Mini-storage is low-density and doesn’t create new jobs: District of Squamish

long with a ban on future drive-thrus, no new mini-storage facilities will be popping up if proposed zoning changes go ahead. 

Two open houses on the proposed District of Squamish zoning amendments were held last week. 

Under the new zoning bylaws no new mini-storage businesses could set up in Squamish, but those that currently exist could expand, according to district staff. 

“It is a fairly profitable business but it is not productive. It doesn’t create jobs,” said John Chapman, a planner with the district, while explaining the rationale behind the proposed changes. “We understand there is a demand for it and we should have mini-storage facilities in Squamish, but rather than expand this… one-level, low-density style to additional parcels, if there is extra demand they can densify and build maybe up higher.” 

 A representative for personal storage facility Mountainview Storage in Pemberton is supportive of the plan. 

“It’s a good idea. To flood the market with any one business is not sustainable,” said Julie Kelly. “The success of small businesses depend on it.” 

Another proposed change is to update the zoning along Paco Road to support light industrial uses. 

“We’ve worked with the businesses and landowners in that neighbourhood to come up with a zone that fits what is actually going on in that land,” Chapman said.

About 20 years ago, the land on Paco Road was rezoned to a multiple-unit residential zone, though what was actually there did not match that zoning and “never changed,” according to Chapman. The area includes workshops, light fabrication businesses and contractors. 

“The businesses that are operating there are having a hard time because if they want to expand or change the actual structures they can’t because the zoning doesn’t fit.” 

Some of the other proposed changes are primarily to clarify language, such as the proposal to create a new definition for “common open space” and “private open space.”

“The way it was written in the zoning bylaw we were finding it difficult for designers and developers to understand and for us to interpret and explain,” Chapman said. “We aren’t changing anything, we are just adding a new definition.”  

Further proposed changes include restricting drive-thrus to their current locations and increasing the requirement for office space in mixed-use buildings downtown. The proposed changes will come before council in the new year followed by a public hearing. 

The district is accepting public comments on the proposed amendments until Jan. 3.