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Council pans pub's parking request
Owner Wayne Guy wants to keep 12 spots to collect rent from houseboat tenants

Simon Whitehouse
Northern News Services
Published Friday, May 10, 2013

Brew pub proponent Wayne Guy will likely have to give up the rent he collects on tenant parking spots if he wants to proceed with an 81-seat bar on Government Dock property in Old Town.

NNSL photo/graphic

City councillors Bob Brooks, centre, and Cory Vanthuyne, right, consult with Wayne Guy over his plans for a brew pub at the Government Dock facility, during Monday's municipal services committee meeting. Most councillors present plan to oppose the proposal to have only three parking spots at the facility. - Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo

This is what he was told after a majority of city councillors indicated Monday that they are not in support of his idea to limit parking at the bar to three stalls.

Guy approached city council at Monday's municipal services committee, asking that parking for the establishment be limited to three spots on the east end of the building in order to help alleviate the overall costs of opening the NWT Brewing Company establishment later this month.

Guy's property has 14 parking stalls but 12 of them are being rented to houseboaters and other users for around $70 a month each. He said he would lose around $10,000 a year in rent if he were required to use the stalls for customer parking, which would be detrimental to the operations of the pub. Plus, he would have to break leases with his tenants, who hold yearly contracts with him to use the parking spots.

He added that limited parking would promote pedestrian traffic and deter patrons from drinking and driving from the location. It would also help to maintain the aesthetic character of Old Town by limiting traffic, he said.

"This is a drinking establishment as well as a restaurant, but to say bring your cars down and drive away after a pint or two, I don't think that sends a good message," said Guy.

"We are willing to put in bike racks and there is an existing bus stop there and there is a cab stand that could go in."

Alas, his proposal was not well received by council, who insist that he makes 12 parking stalls available for customers.

"With all due respect to why he has the stalls and why he has them rented out to houseboaters, he is asking us not to have us force him into having more stalls, that he should only have three, and that he is going to maintain those stalls and generate revenue off that," said city councillor Cory Vanthuyne.

"To us that is also really not palatable."

The way the city sees it, Guy's three-parking spot proposal is not sufficient under the zoning bylaw, which requires one parking stall per four seats in a restaurant. With a proposed 81-seat establishment, not including the planned 26 seasonal deck seats during the summer months, Guy would be required to have 20 parking spots if he was to follow the letter of the law.

Allowing the development permit to go ahead with 12 spots, or a 40 per cent variance, is "flexible" and "the bare minimum" the city can provide for a facility that size, said Mayor Mark Heyck.

"Eighty-five per cent would be a very high variance, yes," said Heyck, referring to Guy's three-stall request.

"As part of the development permit process, when neighbours were notified of this potential change in use, the primary concern by everybody writing in was parking related. The notion of an 85 per cent variance taking an 81-seat restaurant and only providing three spaces, wasn't on when administration looked at the issue and wasn't on when council discussed it at committee."

The final decision is subject to a council vote expected at the regular meeting next week, but Guy maintains the required 12 spots could be detrimental to his plans to open this month.

"We would like to get going this month, depending on council's resolution," said Guy, adding council's vote next week may prevent that from happening.

"I think it could be very difficult because we currently have existing tenants in the building. We have two residential suites and they have parking. We already have six long-time leases that may have to be broken and I don't think I can easily do that.

"We could possibly lose our tenant because the city is requiring us to essentially default on our obligation to our tenant."

City councillors Adrian Bell and Niels Konge argued that while they hoped council wasn't hurting business prospects, they thought the three parking spots were unrealistic and would not relieve transportation congestion as Guy suggested.

"I work out in Kam Lake and I like to take my wife out at least once a week and that is our time to chat. We go where there are parking stalls," said Konge. "We go to the Monkey Tree because we can find parking and the Smokehouse Cafe because there is parking.

"I don't feel that we as a council - if it is a sound business - that (if we decide) it is three or 12 parking stalls that that should make or break a business."

Coun. Dan Wong is the only councillor to express support for the three-stall proposal, saying he is concerned about where people currently parking in the area would go and that there would never be enough parking for the area. He said he would like to see his concept for a bike lane pilot project be used as a means to get to and from the brew pub.

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