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Courtenay approves Third Street medical clinic

A Third Street medical clinic is going ahead.

A Third Street medical clinic is going ahead.

Courtenay council approved final reading Monday night for a zoning text amendment to allow the new building that will house a chiropractic clinic as well as two family medical doctors.

This approval came after a public hearing that saw considerable opposition from the ‘Old Orchard’ neighbourhood which includes Third St.

Residents were mostly concerned about increased traffic at the site, which is already zoned Commercial 5, and comprises three lots that will be amalgamated into one. The new Commercial 5 zone doesn’t permit medical clinics – a 20-year former use of the property - which is why the text amendment was sought.

Counc. Doug Hillian was concerned about ignoring the area’s residents and their worries.

“We had a significant number of residents come forward expressing concerns. I think we do need to be aware this is a well established neighbourhood in the community … with pride of ownership,” he said.

“I just think we need to bear in mind that when people see significant changes in their neighbourhood they do feel threatened. And worry about it.”

Hillian wanted support on amending the bylaw to have city staff investigate moving access to the clinic from Third St. to Duncan Ave.

But there’s a large chestnut tree that might be in the way.

Counc. David Frisch said he had no problems with the clinic or its access. He said he’d prefer to keep the chestnut tree rather than move the access and tear out the tree.

He said he uses Third St. quite frequently as a cyclist.

“I use this area a lot. I don’t see the problem with traffic on Third St. I feel quite safe, a lot safer than Fifth St. I’m excited about this development,” he said.

Mayor Larry Jangula said “you can’t make everyone happy” and suggested the residents’ “reasoning on this one is relatively weak.”

The project applicant, Dr. Debbie Wright who currently operates a chiropractic clinic on Fourth St., said at the public hearing there would probably be less traffic to her clinic than there is now, because the parking spots are currently being rented out to downtown businesses.

After giving fourth and final adoption to the zoning text amendment, council made a motion asking city staff to investigate different access options to the site as the work proceeds to the development permit stage.

Mayor Jangula voted against doing that.