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Campbell River quashes couple’s doggy daycare dreams

Kimberly Dorrington and her German shepherd Yanik enjoy some bonding time in the rain. Dorrington, a professional dog trainer, wants to open a doggy daycare in Campbell River but a decision made by council Tuesday night would force her to open the facility outside of the city. - Kristen Douglas/The Mirror
Kimberly Dorrington and her German shepherd Yanik enjoy some bonding time in the rain. Dorrington, a professional dog trainer, wants to open a doggy daycare in Campbell River but a decision made by council Tuesday night would force her to open the facility outside of the city.
— image credit: Kristen Douglas/The Mirror

Kimberly Dorrington has spent more than a month trying to get city council to allow her to run a doggy daycare where she can let the dogs outside to play.

On Tuesday night council not only didn’t relax the rules, it shut down her plans entirely.

Dorrington paid the city $2,800 to try and change three city zonings to allow pet services, in Dorrington’s case a doggy daycare.

Now she has nothing to show for it because the fee is non-refundable and council defeated the bylaw amendment that would have allowed her to run a doggy daycare within the city limits.

“I have spent $2,800 on this and I am not going to walk away from it,” Dorrington said. “I don’t understand...as to why I had to pay $2,800 to add a definition to the city’s zoning that benefits other people opening pet-related businesses, not just myself.”

That definition is pet services which is currently only allowed in rural zonings, outside the city limits. Dorrington said they are “way” out of town, north of Duncan Bay Road and south of York Road.

Dorrington, a professional dog trainer, was seeking to have pet services included as an accepted use in Industrial, Commercial Two (C-2) and Commercial Four (C-4) zonings.

Council didn’t think that was appropriate and was concerned a doggy daycare could be disruptive to already established commercial businesses.

“In a business like this it’s preferable that the dogs be able to go outside for a period of time,” Moglove said. “Therein lies the problem. It’s not appropriate, in my view, for C-2 and C-4. I’m thinking to myself, I’m sitting in the Sundance Java Cafe in Willow Point on the South Island Highway and there’s 10 or 15 dogs next door at an indoor doggy daycare. The dogs should be allowed outside but they’re not compatible so I can’t support the amendment. I understand the dilemma of the proponents but we have to take the interests of the entire community as well.”

The dilemma is that city staff worded the bylaw in such a way that any doggy daycare in either the Commercial-Two or Commercial-Four zones would have to be primarily indoors, meaning the dogs could only be outside for a limited amount of time, to go to the bathroom or to be taken out for a walk. Industrial was the only zone that would have allowed the dogs to be outdoors for up to three hours each day.

Dorrington had been trying to fight that restriction in the commercial zones since December and had the support of Coun. Larry Samson, who reiterated Tuesday that the dogs shouldn’t be cooped up.

“I’m still opposed to the bylaw,” Samson said. “It’s too stringent. One of the things I look at is pets in a household.

“We have no bylaw that says how many pets you can have in a household. You can have 10 dogs in a residential area yet we’re trying to restrict a business.”

Ross Blackwell, the city’s land use manager, said a business applicant can apply for a variance permit to the zoning to allow for extended outdoor use, and could ask for a board variance which he said is “substantially” cheaper than applying for a development variance.

However, that became a moot point minutes later when council rejected the pet services bylaw completely, striking down adding pet services as an accepted use in Commercial-Two, Commercial-Four and Industrial.

Coun. Mary Storry didn’t think the bylaw was what Dorrington was looking for.

“The changing in this bylaw I don’t believe would satisfy that need the proponent would have,” Storry said. “That ‘primarily’ within an enclosed building would have to be problematic and I’m wondering why the spot zoning wasn’t looked at by the proponent as an option.”

Blackwell said that while he couldn’t speak for Dorrington, it was something that was considered.

“That’s something staff did discuss with the proponent and the proponent felt it was overly restrictive, but again I would also point out there are already currently three zones that do exist in the community that allow pet services without any amendment at all,” Blackwell said.

Moglove said she felt spot zoning was the best route for Dorrington and voted in opposition to the bylaw amendment.

Councillors Ryan Mennie and Storry, as well as Mayor Walter Jakeway were also opposed, and the motion was defeated.

 

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