File photo by ADVOCATE staff                                City council approved new uses for Riverside Light Industrial Park, including offices for small-scale or start-up businesses, an indoor recreational facility and an industrial/training facility.

File photo by ADVOCATE staff City council approved new uses for Riverside Light Industrial Park, including offices for small-scale or start-up businesses, an indoor recreational facility and an industrial/training facility.

Red Deer’s Riverside Light Industrial Park will become a mixed-use area

Landowners wanted some flexibility, says planner

Indoor recreational facilities and offices could soon move into Red Deer’s Riverside Light Industrial Park, which was made into a multi-use district by city council Monday.

Council was told Riverside Light Industrial Park‘s smaller sized lots work well for various uses, beyond light industries, and some landowners wanted to see some land use flexibility in this area.

New uses approved Monday include offices for small-scale or start-up businesses, an indoor recreational facility, an industrial/training facility, a microbrewery, and some retail sales of products produced or packaged on site.

Planning services director Tara Lodewyk said other municipalities, including Red Deer County, have mixed-use areas, so the change would allow Red Deer to become more competitive.

Not everyone has happy with the mixed-use proposal, with some Riverside business owners writing about their concerns that noise and traffic from existing industries might become issues for new office-type businesses.

But others felt the city wasn’t going far enough.

At Monday’s public hearing, council heard from property owner Dwayne Janzen, who wanted C-4 zoning for this area. This would allow him to lease to a private kindergarten to Grade 5 school.

However, Lodewyk said C-4 contains many uses not contemplated for this area by city staff. Janzen was told he could instead still seek the school’s approval as a discretionary use.

Lodewyk added that going from I-1 to C-4 would mean many existing light industries would not be allowed to expand or rebuild. These existing businesses would effectively become legal non-conforming — which would not be fair to these companies.

Red Deer Co-op’s director of finance Mark Music favoured the change, saying his home and garden centre needs to expand its office area and hoped to do this in Riverside Industrial Park rather than going elsewhere.

Making the industrial park a mixed-use district was approved by most of council. Only Coun. Frank Wong was opposed out of concern about the effect of the transition on a very popular light industrial park. (Coun. Lawrence Lee was absent).

Individual properties will not automatically be rezoned. Council was told the next step will be meeting with property owners and discussing what new uses they are open to.

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes supported being more flexible and accommodating. Existing businesses don’t want to be squeezed out, by others move in, so “somewhere we have to find that sweet spot,” she added.

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