Pemberton council approved a development permit for a business belonging to one of its councillors at a meeting that citizens learned about a day before it happened.
A special council meeting was held Aug. 12 where council approved a permit for Al LeBlanc, a member of council and owner of a property in the industrial park. The permit will allow him to develop a car wash and storage building at 7318 Industrial Way, at the intersection with Artisan Road.
Council was not expected to hold another regular meeting until September. The village put word out to the community about the special council meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 11.
LeBlanc, present for the meeting, declared a conflict of interest and stepped out of the room while council debated it. Councillor Susie Gimse, attending via conference call while she was at a family reunion on Savary Island, asked council whether there was any urgency around the permit that required it to be heard this week.
Caroline Lamont, the village's manager of development services, responded that council was hearing it at a special meeting because development permits for the industrial park often come forward in August. She added that builders like to start construction in the park as soon as possible.
LeBlanc's son Dylan, who attended the meeting, said that's exactly why his father wanted it brought forward now. The two of them are hoping to have the business open by the winter.
Asked after the meeting why council heard it Thursday instead of waiting for the regular September meeting, Mayor Jordan Sturdy said the main reason for the council meeting had to do with a motion regarding cash contributions to the Pemberton Skate Park. LeBlanc's permit just got tacked on.
"Principally, the reason we're dealing with this is the skate park," Sturdy said. "If the design is not finished and the request for proposals put out this week, we're done, we're not going to be building a skate park."
Council approved $65,000 for preliminary site work on the skate park.
Lamont said that the development permit was supposed to come before council at the second meeting in July but staff workload was too intense at the time.
The business itself, Al's Car Wash, calls for a two-storey principal building with office use and a residential suite on its top floor for the property caretaker suite. The development also includes a car wash and L-shaped mini storage building.
Councillor Ted Craddock spoke out at a September 2009 council meeting against the idea of having residential spaces at the Industrial Park, despite the fact that a number of them are already there.
He said in response to an application from Celtic Roots Masonry, which sought to build a 2,707 square foot residence, that the park shouldn't turn into a residential subdivision.
The residential suite in this case, however, takes up a portion of 920 square feet, which also includes the office. Craddock said nothing about residential suites at last week's meeting.
Council approved the Development Permit unanimously, with Craddock remarking that Pemberton needs businesses like a car wash, although he expressed some concern about water dripping from wet cars in the winter months. Lamont said she and her staff hadn't looked at that issue yet.