Commercial school clampdown

New commercial schools will be forbidden from setting up shop in Red Deer industrial areas in an effort to ensure children’s safety.

New commercial schools will be forbidden from setting up shop in Red Deer industrial areas in an effort to ensure children’s safety.

City council decided this week that it would stop allowing commercial schools — including secretarial, athletic training and dance schools — from operating in light industrial areas.

Industrial trade schools, which provide education or training such as carpentry to adults, would still get the chance to be a discretionary use within light industrial areas.

Staff told council there was no definition of a trade/commercial school within the land-use bylaw and as a result, the municipal planning commission approved a dance studio at 60th Street.

With new industrial parks opening up, including Queens Business Park, planning director Paul Meyette said it was important to get this passed before any new schools got permission to move in.

There was some concern as to what this would mean for businesses that are already running in Riverside Industrial Park.

Among those is a business called Themes and Variations.

Its primary business is processing and distributing music books, but at one point it offered baby music classes. It would like to have these classes in the future.

“What is the potential harm in passing this bylaw?” says Themes and Variations managing editor Denise Gagne.

“To our business, it limits the options that we have to offer the classes.”

Councillor Cindy Jefferies said the Riverside area is transitioning.

“Not only are there businesses holding classes, there are lots of people coming and going,” Jefferies said.

“I’d hate to see us tell her (Gagne) or other businesses that are in similar function that they cannot do this, when this area is in transition.”

A review of the Riverside light industrial area will be done but will take some time to see what uses are conflicting, said Meyette.

“Where this area is in transition, I’m really hesitant to pass this because it means that all the ones that don’t meet (the rules) will have to go,” said Councillor Paul Harris, who voted against the change. Councillor Dianne Wyntjes also voted against it.

Elaine Vincent, Legislative and Governance Services Department manager, said businesses get approval for a certain use when they apply for a licence.

That approval gets grandfathered, so it can continue.

But as in the case of the music business, offering music lessons wasn’t part of the original business licence, Vincent said.

“There’s a message in here: when you apply for a business licence, make sure you actually disclose the uses that are in there so we can work with you,” Vincent said.

That will avoid any problems in the future should the business decide to expand operations but is unable to because the new uses aren’t allowed, she said.