EDITORIAL: Rezoning would unravel red tape for business in Port Alberni

Harbour Quay is traditionally for tourist and marine-based businesses…

A Harbour Quay building owner has asked the City of Port Alberni to temporarily rezone a building at Harbour Quay to allow for office space.

The quay is a thriving tourist hub in the summer months, and drops off slightly in popularity when weather starts turning cold and nasty. This particular owner has purchased the building housing The Blue Door Café, which has had some empty spaces as neighbours over the years. When someone came along wanting to put an office in the renovated building, they were turned away due to the way the building was zoned.

Harbour Quay is traditionally for tourist and marine-based businesses. However, the idea to grant a temporary use permit to allow businesses is a good one.

Three years isn’t a long time to decide whether a business is a good fit for a neighbourhood, or vice versa. If the city decides having an office in a tourist area doesn’t work, they can revoke the permit—thus the term ‘temporary’.

While Coun. Sharie Minions—who is also a business owner—says there isn’t sufficient office space in the Alberni Valley at the moment, perhaps that’s because an entrepreneur hasn’t thought far enough outside the box yet.

Kevin Wright’s Sprout program and pending business development centre talk about all the unoccupied buildings primarily in the uptown core, and also promote novel ways to use those spaces. There are concrete examples of how businesses could utilize storefronts, or how stores could transform part of their buildings to accommodate business.

Both Wright and Aaron Vissia of AV Financial, for instance, created board room spaces and made them available to other groups to use them. Vissia has revamped his board room space again to add a business in the space.

While we appreciate the intent to keep a tourist focus at Harbour Quay, this building has been largely empty for the past dozen years: finally, someone has found a use for it. That means revenue that will ultimately help the city, either through taxes or perhaps more jobs.

The city should support this request.

— Alberni Valley News

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