New West planning committee opposes pharmacy plan in Sapperton

New Westminster’s land use and planning committee isn’t keen on a proposed pharmacy in Sapperton.

On Sept. 9, the committee considered a preliminary report regarding a proposed site-specific zoning text amendment application that would allow health-related office space and retail uses, including a pharmacy, at 141 East Columbia St. The building is currently occupied by Greens and Beans Deli and Holland Shopping Centre.

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In a report to the committee, staff recommended they be directed to proceed with processing the proposed site-specific zoning bylaw text amendment. However, the three council members on the committee unanimously opposed the recommendation.

The site is zoned as Service Districts CS-1, which allows commercial service uses such as banks, restaurants and automobile sales and repair. The application doesn’t include any additional square footage to the existing building, but it requires a text amendment from the city to operate a pharmacy and medical offices in the building.

“The applicant is proposing these uses in order to be able to set up a medical clinic to provide services to the community  as well as to have a pharmacy on the site, which would be part of a retail use (similar to Shopper’s Drug Mart, London Drugs or other similar stores),” said the staff report. “The applicant indicates that the site is located within close proximity to Royal Columbian Hospital and would serve the needs of both patients ant he surrounding community.”

Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said the owner could redevelop the site under current zoning, but would require a text amendment to allow a pharmacy as a permitted use.

“Drug stores require a text amendment because of what we brought in years ago because of the proliferation of methadone clinics. That’s still on the books,” he said. “That gave us the ability to say no to a drug store. He wasn’t planning on developing the site, just moving into the restaurant.”

According to the report, the applicant has informed the existing tenants they would allow to remain in the building for the duration of their respective leases.

“It was simply to facilitate the type of small business as part of the overall wellbeing of that part of the community and not to support a text amendment to allow a drug store, which council has the right to do,” Puchmayr said of the committee’s decision.

The committee referred the issue back to staff.


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