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Medical uses allowed in business parks

Health service businesses can now locate in St. Albert business parks. Council voted to make the designation a permitted use in areas zoned BP but voted against allowing day cares and churches.

Health service businesses can now locate in St. Albert business parks.

Council voted to make the designation a permitted use in areas zoned BP but voted against allowing day cares and churches.

Developer Paul Wong was pleased to hear that he can stop turning away medical entrepreneurs.

"The medical use is tremendous. We are going to really explore that. I think that in itself will be a really positive push," he said.

Wong has spent the last two years unsuccessfully trying to market more than eight hectares (20 acres) in the North Campbell business park. He's yet to sell any of his serviced lots, mainly because the BP zoning is too restrictive, he said.

There are two areas designated as business parks in St. Albert, North Campbell, located north of Servus Credit Union Place, and a parcel in South Riel near the new Enjoy Centre.

Current permitted uses in business parks are: business support service, commercial school, government service, light industrial, professional office, public utility, research and development business and research laboratory.

Wong said he didn't have a problem with the other two uses not receiving approval.

"I've had some demand for day care but I haven't heard much from the religious point of view," he said.

Rev. Ken Walker of the New Hope Community Church wasn't happy with the decision because it forces small churches like his to buy properties along St. Albert Trail, which are priced out of reach.

"I've got to love this city council because God tells me to … they're making it tougher," he said in half-jest. "It basically shuts the door on us as far as having a place."

Lynda Moffat addressed council on behalf of the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce.

"We do support the need for health care facilities … as far as the rest of it is concerned, I think we need to talk more," she said.

Mayor Nolan Crouse said the need to open up the market for health facilities was pressing, while there's not enough information to compel him to vote in favour of the other two uses.

"At least we've freed up the opportunity for the free market to do something," he said.

New plan for Campbell north

Council also voted to have Wong organize a consultation process to craft the zoning parameters he'd like to see in North Campbell, with the intention of assembling a proposal for council to debate.

Wong appeared before council last week saying he wanted some sort of zoning that was looser than BP, but not as wide open as commercial industrial service, which is the zoning in place in the south part of Campbell Business Park.

Wong said after Monday's decision that he expects to come back to council in January with his ideas to provide more flexibility in North Campbell, while preserving the integrity of the existing buildings.