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Kennel caught in red tape: Konge
Qimmiq owner insists dogs weren't being housed without permit

Cody Punter
Northern News Services
Published Friday, May 24, 2013

A dispute over a kennel owner's expansion in Kam Lake has one city councillor calling for changes in the way the city handles its development permitting process.

Qimmiq Kennels co-owner Jo Kelly claims that she had no intention of running an illegal business, and that they have complied with the city's requests.

Qimmiq Kennels co-owner Jo Kelly claims that she had no intention of running an illegal business, and that they have complied with the city's requests. - Cody Punter/NNSL photo

Qimmiq Kennels' problems began last December after the city received complaints that the company was "illegally" operating a kennel on one of its properties. The city inspected in January and found that a recently acquired lot was "being used as a kennel without any proper application or permit in place."

A memo to city council advises that kennels had been erected at the back of the property and were being used to house dogs.

Co-owner Jo Kelly, however, claims the kennel cages were only being stored on the property and weren't being used to house dogs then or now. She bought the kennels ahead of time in December because they would have been more expensive to purchase after Jan. 1.

Kelly said Qimmiq had planned to apply to the city for a development permit to build a storefront, parking and additional space on the property for the company's doggy day camp in the new year. The pie-shaped property sits between two other properties she and her business partner already own and use for their kennel business. Kelly said she first approached the city about her expansion plans last November but didn't hear back from the city until inspectors came by the property in January to follow up on the neighbour's complaint.

"So it's not like they didn't know this thing was in the works," she said. "As far as I knew, we were on our way."

Kelly declined to allow Yellowknifer on the premises to see the kennels.

Jeff Humble, director of the city's planning and development department, told Yellowknifer yesterday that, regardless of whether Kelly had spoken to anybody at the city, Qimmiq was not in compliance with city development rules.

"Just because someone has made an inquiry does not mean that they do not have to apply for a permit," said Humble.

After consulting with neighbours and coming up with design plans, Kelly applied for a development permit in March.

City councillor Niels Konge was one of several councillors who expressed support for Qimmiq Kennels' application during Tuesday's municipal services committee.

According to Konge, Qimmiq's application highlights some of the shortcomings of city administration's approach to business owners

seeking development permits.

"I don't have so much of a problem approving this, as I have a concern with the view that in the city of Yellowknife it's easier to beg for forgiveness than it is to ask for permission," said Konge.

He said he ultimately believes that the city needs to make more of an effort to help business owners who are trying to get permits.

"I believe people want to do the right thing," he said.

He added that the onus remains on the owner to approach the city, but that, "once it gets to city hall the onus is on the city to make this stuff happen."

Kelly presented her company's case before council on Tuesday, arguing that the kennel provides a clean and user-friendly service, and that the expansion of the business into the recently purchased property was necessary to meet the needs of her clients.

"I just want to run my kennel and have it be a safe place for people and dogs," she said. "In order to run a professional business, I need more space."

Several other councillors also spoke favourably on Qimmiq's behalf, applauding the high standards of her existing business and praising the valuable service that it provides for dog owners.

Yellowknifer spoke with several of Qimmiq's neighbours who all said they had no problems with

the permit being approved.

Since the permit was filed on March 7, the development officer reviewing the case has recommended that the project be approved, arguing that the use will meet all requirements for a kennel pursuant

to the zoning bylaw.

The city also pointed out that, because the only lots immediately surrounding the property in question are already owned by Qimmiq, the cumulative impact of the expansion will be minimal.

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