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Resident opposition halts enVision plans

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 12/6/2017 2:30 PM

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A petition and strong turnout by residents Tuesday at city hall persuaded Steinbach council to quash plans by enVision Community Living to renovate a Brandt Street property into office space.

The plan required an official community plan change from residential to commercial policy area, and a rezoning from residential single family to C2 commercial. Neither proceeded after a unanimous vote from council.

At the hearing, Jeannette Delong, enVision’s executive director, said the organization has always ensured its 30 properties are attractive and unobtrusive. Its plan for 80 Brandt Street involved renovating an existing home into office space, and the construction of a new building in three to five years’ time.

"Our intention would be to build a building that fits in the neighbourhood," she said.

enVision’s head office next door at 84 Brandt Street is zoned C3, Delong pointed out, and some properties across the street are already zoned commercial. Vacant commercial properties currently on the market were either too large or too small for enVision’s needs, she said.

However, half a dozen nearby property owners voiced objections. Citing noise, traffic, and pedestrian safety concerns, some residents also spoke of a desire to stop commercial encroachment on Brandt Street’s lone remaining residential stretch. A petition signed by more than 30 nearby property owners was also submitted to council.

City manager Troy Warkentin confirmed council’s options were limited. The city’s planning and zoning regulations did not allow council to approve an office space usage while preventing a commercial rezoning. Similarly, enVision’s plans did not meet the requirements for a rezoning to residential mixed use. A rezoning to C1 commercial would still require a change under the community plan, Warkentin said.

Councillor Jac Siemens said the city needs to give special attention to the area during its upcoming community plan review.

"The decision here is a long-term decision," he said. "We need to stop and rethink this as a whole."

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