City council put an end to the doggy daycare saga Tuesday night, giving third reading to a bylaw amendment that will allow pet service businesses to take up shop in the city.
With council’s positive vote on Tuesday, pet services (which includes doggy daycares) will be accepted uses under Commercial-2 (C-2), Commercial-4 (C-4) and Industrial-1 (I-1) city zonings.
The vote passed following a second public hearing into the issue. The hearing was ordered by council two weeks ago after Mayor Walter Jakeway requested council re-consider the pet services bylaw – a bylaw which had already been shot down by council. Kimberly Dorrington and business partner Ryan Pickard said they were grateful to council for taking a second look.
“We are extremely happy council has brought this back,” Dorrington said. “We know there’s been a lot of confusion among council as well as between us and the city.”
A lot of the confusion stemmed from the wording in the pet services bylaw relating to the how long the dogs would be allowed to go outside.
In both commercial zones the bylaw states the dogs must be ‘wholly’ enclosed in the building with limited outdoor use allowed while under the industrial zone the dogs are permitted to be outdoors for up to three hours each day.
Dorrington and Pickard originally did not like that restriction but have since relaxed their stance.
“I’m quite happy with being able to apply for a variance in a C-2 or C-4 zone if we find an appropriate building that opening the dogs up to outside is not going to bother anybody,” Dorrington said. The variance could allow the dogs more outside time in her specific commercial building if Dorrington were to apply and be successful.
“I greatly appreciate the fact this is being brought back,” Dorrington added.
Jakeway used section 131 of the Community Charter at the Feb. 5 council meeting to effectively turn the clock back. Council had originally defeated the bylaw amendment to allow pet services in the C-2, C-4 and I-1 zones at a council meeting Jan. 22. Jakeway blamed it on confusion on the part of city staff and council and said he had voted opposed to the motion because he thought it was too restrictive. He wanted the three hour outdoor limit in I-1 extended to the two commercial zones.
“The original that was proposed to us five weeks ago I didn’t find acceptable. It’s currently set up to restrict dogs making noise in the back of a commercial property,” Jakeway said. “But if it was an air compressor kicking on and off every 45 minutes all day long we wouldn’t change the zoning. What’s the difference between an annoying air compressor and a dog barking three hours a day. The thing that was bothering me is why are we changing zoning to restrict dogs or restrict cats and not a piece of machinery. So I want to make it wide open.”
Jakeway also noted that it could be expensive to apply for another variance, especially taking into account Dorrington and Pickard have already paid $2,800 to have the bylaw amendment come before council. Jakeway said that seemed “beyond reason.”
Coun. Mary Storry was concerned Dorrington was counting on a process that’s not guaranteed.
“The only concern I have is yes, there’s always an opportunity to come back for a variance but it does have to go through all the processes, the public hearing, and you just never know for sure,” Storry said. “So I just want to make sure you know…and that if you found a place that could work…the variance isn’t always a go.”
Dorrington said she “appreciated” Jakeway and Storry’s comments but added she’s aware she can apply through a board of variance – a less costly option where a board can look at the variance request.
“This wouldn’t have to go through a major ordeal like this again because it’s already zoned pet services, we’re just trying to open it up a bit wider,” Dorrington said.
In the meantime, Dorrington has been looking at a piece of property in the Industrial-1 zoning for her doggy daycare.