City council approves casino parking lot in Parkvale

Jackpot Casino will get its parking lot in Parkvale.

Jackpot Casino will get its parking lot in Parkvale.

After more than two hours of public hearing, council voted 6-2 in support of a site exception to a land use bylaw paving the way for a temporary parking lot for nine years at 4643 and 4637 50th Street.

Jackpot Casino re-submitted a new application for a temporary parking lot with 41 regular parking spots and two accessible stalls after failing to receive council support for a permanent one in September 2013.

The lots, just east of the casino, at Ross Street and 47th Avenue were the sites of Botteril House and a bungalow until they were demolished in 2013.

Council got an earful on the proposal from about 30 speakers from the Parkvale community. The majority of the residents were in support.

Proponents of the parking lot including the two neighbours directly beside the empty lot said a parking lot would be better than leaving the site empty. They said a parking lot would be well-used and a welcomed addition. The area is zoned for single family dwellings, duplexes and low-impact commercial. But they said no one would want to live on that busy street.

However opponents argued that the city should stay true to the planning vision of Parkvale and should not compromise that vision.

Parkvale resident Bruce Buruma, for example, said there is far more potential for the site than a parking lot.

The Parkvale Community Association did not support the parking lot.

Jackpot Casino spokesperson Scott Mather said that approval for parking lot was critical to keeping the business downtown and it may be forced to relocate out of the city.

After hearing both sides of the issue, council ultimately decided to allow the parking lot on a temporary basis.

There was some discussion over the definition of “temporary” as a few councillors unsuccessfully tried to make the site exception valid for six or seven years but nine years was decided in the end.

Both Councillors Dianne Wyntjes and Lynne Mulder said they supported the parking lot because of its temporary nature.

Mulder said a parking lot would not be her first choice but she heard what was said in the public hearing which was predominantly in support.

Wyntjes said the parking lot will be different than the typical parking lot in the city with its furniture, fencing and green areas.

Voting against the parking lot, Councillors Ken Johnston and Tanya Handley were not convinced it was the best move for the area.

Johnston said there was a lot of work put into planning the neighbourhood. He said the application goes against many of the city’s planning documents.

“I think that the view of this vacant dirty lot has forced the vision of this area to be swept away,” said Handley. “I don’t think we should continue to focus on a potentially ugly space (but something) which has the potential to be so much more.”

Coun. Paul Harris was absent.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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