Zoning application had Kitimat council discussing their openness to business

Councillors had split views on how fast they should move on a proposal to amend a zoning bylaw to allow for things like tattoo parlours.

A public hearing on a proposed change to the C2 Zone is set for October 21, which would add ‘Personal Service Shop’ to the list of definitions of approved use.

But the approach of council to the bylaw amendment — which came to their attention after a business owner indicated they want to open a tattoo parlour in Nechako Centre — had some split over being thorough versus the impression of feet dragging for local businesses.

That debate came after Rob Goffinet moved for only first reading of the bylaw rather than the recommended first and second.

Goffinet admitted he was acting cautious, but his reasoning was he wanted some extra time to have questions answered from staff about the change that he had no time to answer earlier, having been away at the Union of BC Municipalities conference with the majority of council.

Two readings of a bylaw must be passed before council can hold a public hearing, which allows public input before a third reading and final adoption.

Nechako Centre, which is zoned C2, does not have definitions for Personal Service Shop.

The proposed wording for the addition would be “a business where the sale of retail goods is only an accessory to the provision of services related to the care and appearance of the body or the cleaning and repair of personal affects.”

It goes on to list health clubs, gyms, tattoo and piercing studios and barber shops as examples of a personal service shop.

Personal Service Shops do exist in the C1 City Centre Zone, so is not entirely foreign to the town.

Phil Germuth worried that only passing first reading, while not necessarily meaning the process slows town, could create a bad impression.

“There’s such a minor difference between what this business is proposing and I don’t want to be seen as restricting business,” he said.

Councillors can still vote for second reading at a prior council meeting ahead of the October 21 hearing, which will take place at the start of a regular council meeting.

“I would like us to pass second reading tonight and move this along as quickly as possible. By not passing second reading I’m feeling like we’re putting out there that we may be possibly slowing this down and not expediting this as quickly as possible for such a minor change to the bylaw.”

Mario Feldhoff however did believe the amendment was substantial, but did say the proposal did make sense. That said, he was interested in hearing from the Advisory Planning Commission on the matter.

The APC, as part of council’s motion, has been referred the application for their own comment.

“I think this will work out,” he said, noting decisions won’t come any later based on the motion as presented.

The motion to pass only first reading passed.