Keep industrial business inside the city, Council says

Cranbrook council lodges opposition to the regional district’s major home based business regulations

Cranbrook will officially object to plans to allow industrial businesses in the regional district surrounding the city.

On Monday, September 9, city council decided it will not recommend approval of the Regional District of East Kootenay’s bylaws that would permit major home-based businesses in Area C around Cranbrook.

The Regional District of East Kootenay has been preparing draft regulations for both major and minor home-based businesses in rural areas.

There will be two categories of home based business, depending on where the home is located. Minor home-based business — such as child care or a bed and breakfast — will be allowed throughout the region, but major home-based business — a portable sawmill, woodworking business, trade contracting and metal working — would only be permitted in parts of electoral areas A (around Sparwood) and C (around Cranbrook). In Area C, major home-based business would be approved on a site-by-site basis.

Cranbrook council is in favour of the minor home based business regulations, but opposed to the major home based business regulations. Mayor Wayne Stetski, and Councillors Sharon Cross, Gerry Warner and Bob Whetham voted in favour of this stance, while Coun. Angus Davis was opposed. Coun. Denise Pallesen and Diana J. Scott were absent.

“Generally speaking, I think it’s safe to say that most people are comfortable with the provisions for minor home-based businesses. They are entirely consistent with something that would be an accessory to a residential use,” said Coun. Whetham, who sits on the regional district board with Mayor Wayne Stetski. “The issue is with the major home-based business, where in fact the residence is really the smaller use than the business. It’s difficult, at least in my mind, to see how that would be a benefit.”

Coun. Whetham said he is concerned with allowing a business such as woodworking, general contracting and metal working in a rural area, especially when the regulations would allow up to three non-resident employees, two commercial vehicles and three pieces of heavy equipment.

“We are getting well beyond something that is incidental to the residential use,” he said.

“The approach we have here is something of a Trojan horse. If you want to call it industrial use with an accessory dwelling, that’s what it is.”

Mayor Stetski said that, because rural businesses do not require a license, there could be advantages for businesses presently in Cranbrook to relocate to Area C.

“From a city perspective, it could also lure businesses out of the city because there is no business licensing, so nobody checking on you, potentially taxes might be lower…” he said.

Having industrial businesses located beside rural residential properties could cause conflict, the mayor went on.

“It really is a blending of urban and rural in a new way that we haven’t seen before.

“If I moved to the country because I wanted country living, and then found that I could have industrial activity very close to where I live, I would not be very happy with that.”

Cranbrook’s stance on the regulations will be considered by the Regional District of East Kootenay board of directors when it considers the home-based business bylaws in the coming months.

Businesses in the regional district outside of municipalities are not required to have a business licence, but zoning and land use bylaws regulate things like the number of employees, the maximum business area, the number of commercial vehicles and what retail products are available for sale.