The Red Deer Boxing Club wants to leave the downtown and relocate to a larger space in Northlands Industrial Park.
Red Deer city council approved first reading on Monday to a rezoning proposal for 4910-78 St. The property could be changed from I-1 Industrial District to IC Industrial/Commercial District to accommodate the Red Deer Boxing Club in the on-site buildings.
A public hearing will be held on April 12 before council debates giving final approval to the re-zoning.
City planner Christi Fedek told councillors an application was received to start a recreational facility at this location. The industrial buildings’ size and high ceilings are ideal for the Red Deer Boxing Club, she said, as there’s space for a ring and seating, good air circulation and lighting.
Council heard one of two industrial buildings on site is vacant while the other is partially occupied by a warehousing and storage business. Fedek considers the Northlands property to be in a transitional area, between commercial and industrial sites, and recommended the re-zoning be approved.
She noted other recreation facilities (including a cheer-leading club and a gym) are located in the vicinity, along Gaetz Avenue.
An information letter about the rezoning application was sent by the city to landowners within 100-metres of the site. One response was received, on behalf of three properties.
The letter writer felt recreation facilities could be accommodated in other parts of the city and that Northlands should be reserved for industry. The limited off-street parking was noted — along with the fear that more on-street parking would be required by boxing club patrons. There was also concern expressed about this rezoning setting a precedent.
Coun. Frank Wong was also concerned about Northlands Industrial Park being allowed to follow Riverside Light Industrial Park in allowing more industrial properties to covert to commercial.
“If they need a building that’s empty and close to C-4 (commercial) we’ve got miles of it. I think that’s weak reasoning,” said Wong, who fears “pretty soon all of our districts will be mixed up.”
Councillors Vesna Higham and Buck Buchanan also expressed reservations about the rezoning. But they were among the majority who voted in favour of first reading so they could hear more community opinions at the public hearing next month.
In the case of Riverside Light Industrial, city officials did a lot of consultation with businesses before allowing the more flexible zoning, said Higham. “I am struggling with this one…”
Officials from the Red Deer Boxing Club, now located off the alley behind Ross Street, spent the last year seeking a larger space to expand their membership. By November, the club had obtained $70,000 in programming grants, but was still looking for an appropriate, affordable space.