Car dealer expansion tied up in Campbell River beautification debate

Councillors expressed their disappointment with the project’s lack of proposed landscaping

A used car dealership in Campbellton was asked to go back to the drawing board by council before it will allow the owner to expand his business.

Gord Knight, owner of Gord Knight Ventures Ltd., wants to add two service bays to his facility.

Colin Burridge said Knight, who has operated the family business for 39 years, is trying to grow his company.

“He’d like to accommodate the existing and projected demand for servicing vehicles and add extra service bays to his shop. He presently employs eight people and he expects to add two more with the addition.”

He added the current bay is not large enough to accommodate the large trucks that are expected to need servicing in town with the BC Hydro and hospital projects on tap.

However, at Tuesday’s council meeting, councillors expressed their disappointment with the project’s lack of proposed landscaping. The dealership’s plans call for three large, concrete planters with two mountain pines in each along the front of the property but the building is proposed to be set back too far from the property line for a main street setting, according to city staff.

Burridge said it’s difficult to incorporate elements at the front of the lot because the cars need to be visible.

“An issue of course with the site is it’s a used car lot so it’s important that the public can drive by or walk by all the cars,” Burridge said. “That’s how business is done and we didn’t want to screen off the parking to any great extent to reduce the visibility of the inventory and of course the business.”

The building was also expected to have minimal architectural and design merit.

Coun. Ron Kerr, an advocate for Campbellton, said more works needs to be done on a landscaping plan.

“When you have vehicles in the parking lot and the noses of the vehicles are actually impeding traffic on the sidewalks, a few planters across the front are not going to change this,” Kerr said. “This is an example of a really lame attempt to improve what is really stopping Campbellton from being a liveable and walkable community.”

Coun. Larry Samson said if council wanted to change the aesthetics in Campbellton this was its chance.

“If we do want to raise the standards in Campbellton this is our opportunity,” he said.

City staff also felt the application fell short of the landscaping requirements and for that reason brought the application to council.

Kevin Brooks, the city’s senior planner, suggested the dealership incorporate other elements to separate the cars in the parking lot and the sidewalk.

“While adding to the visual amenity, the three planters would do so in only the most incremental fashion,” said Brooks. “A continuous narrow strip of lower-level planting with intermittent trees would be a more appropriate solution, perhaps in combination with decorative, open fencing or a more ‘symbolic’ boundary that allows people to pass through.”

Coun. Andy Adams, the only councillor to vote against not issuing the development permit to Knight, suggested the proponent meet with the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association.

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