Clinic business

Council votes against rezoning residential site for health clinic

Councilors have said they want to refrain from approving one-off commercial projects in residential areas until city-wide strategies are developed.

St. Albert City Council voted against rezoning a residential site in Braeside to accommodate a health clinic after hearing concerns from neighbors that the clinic would bring too much traffic to the area.

The clinic – Revive Whole Body Health – is currently located at 15 Bellerose Dr. and is operated by Dr. Bronwen Samuel, a licensed chiropractor, acupuncturist and massage therapist. Samuel had requested that the new Braeside site, a detached house at 38 Sturgeon Road, be rezoned from Residential (R1) to Direct Control.

At a board meeting on Monday, Samuel described his desire to provide a “personalized” setting for patients at his clinic.

“One of the main reasons is to be more central in the community,” Samuel said. “I’ve certainly learned a lot about people and their comfort levels over the years, but COVID-19 has certainly brought that into sharper focus in terms of comfort choices.”

The clinic would operate six days a week and see between two and five clients at a time, Samuel said, with an average of three clients present most of the time, and two to three staff working on site at the same time. On-site parking would include two spaces in a garage and five spaces for customers.

City development officer Kathleen Short said that outside of direct control zoning, a relatively small 1,500-square-foot full-service commercial health clinic would only require three cubicles.

“The five in our estimate exceeds what would have been needed for a full commercial application,” Short said.

Traffic and parking issues

Three residents came to council to oppose the redistricting.

Shirley Deane, who said she was a direct neighbor of the property, told the council she did not want any business ventures in her area.

“It was bad enough that condos were being pushed at us, now we need a business venture there?” Deane asked.

Deane said she felt the parking situation was distorted, noting that the city administration and Samuel had quoted 15 additional parking spaces available directly in front of the property.

“This parking lot gets very busy at times,” Deane said. “We don’t have curbside parking on the other side where there are two condos…if we’re having guests, that’s the only place they should park.”

Deane also said that in the winter, the back lane is filled with snow, which makes parking even less accessible.

Similarly, neighbor Danielle Newsome said the driveway was “not designed to safely handle inbound and outbound two-way traffic all day.”

Another neighbor, Brian Huber, described a high volume of foot traffic in the back alley in addition to passing cars, children walking to school and residents walking their dogs.

“I hope both parties get an equal voice here and the decision is thought through carefully,” Huber said.

Council also received four letters from other members of the public expressing similar concerns, primarily centered on the clinic’s potential to aggravate existing traffic along Sturgeon Road.

The City supports change

The municipal administration of St. Albert supported the redistribution and recommended that council approve it.

Eric Schultz, an urban planner, explained how the change would support several principles and policies within the city’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP), including but not limited to a policy to encourage growth and diversification. of the local business economy, and to support growth and change in established areas.

Samuel also brought to the council two letters from area neighbors expressing their support for the clinic.

One of the letter writers, Vincent Shank, wrote that his mother lives in Braeside. Shank said the clinic would make her mother’s life “much more enjoyable” by providing care close by, in addition to increasing the walkability of the neighborhood.

“I think this is a great opportunity to improve our neighborhood,” Shank said in the letter.

Councilors oppose redistricting

In the end, councilors voted unanimously against redrawing the site.

Com. Wes Brodhead expressed concern about preserving single-family neighborhoods.

“If anything in our community needs to be protected from these kinds of incursions through business operations, it should be our [residential] R1 districts,” Brodhead said.

In June 2021, the council rezoned a residential site in Akinsdale to accommodate a midwifery birthing centre. Brodhead said he was concerned the board was being too lax with approvals for commercial sites.

“The genie came out of the bottle,” Brodhead said. “Where do you draw the line? »

Com. Sheena Hughes said she approved the development of Akinsdale due to an influx of support in the neighborhood and the low number of patients using the clinic.

“The challenge we have is that every time we do point actions, you can start to say, ‘Well, why not me, why not everyone? ‘” Hughes said.

Com. Mike Killick expressed concern about the change ahead of St. Albert’s upcoming infill strategy, which the board funded for $208,000 during budget deliberations last fall. The strategy will establish parameters for redevelopment in mature neighborhoods.

Similarly, the con. Natalie Joly said she appreciates that the city’s CDM principles support redistricting, but would like to see the results of the infill strategy and an update to the land use by-law (LUB) on which the administration municipal is currently working to help avoid one-time events.

“I want to say to the developer, I like your vision,” Joly said, adding that she would like to see Samuels participate in engagement opportunities around the LUB and the infill plan – called the Mature Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy.

“I think perspectives like yours are really important as we look to the future and create these sustainable neighborhoods,” Joly said.