Inverness Square is an iconic and beautiful part of McKenzie Towne and Ward 12. The community concerns surrounding the permitting of a liquor store in this square are understandable.
Community feedback has focused on the adjacent childcare facility and proximity to a nearby middle school. My office has engaged with the Planning team to better understand how the land-use bylaws are applied, specific to this situation. Unfortunately, there are currently no land-use restrictions in Calgary that would preclude this development. While policy exists that limits approval close to schools, the older policy for McKenzie Towne doesn’t contain these provisions. Even if they were applicable here, the distance to McKenzie Highlands School is greater than what the policy recommends.
- In March 2022 the first Development Permit is circulated that advertised the location as a grocery and liquor store. Because liquor stores often receive feedback from residents surrounding them, our office shared the information with the McKenzie Towne Community Association.
- During the summer, information was shared on social media by the community, about this business opening and we received emails from the community voicing concerns. At this point, the commenting process on the development permit had already passed. Our office stated that we would be able to assist in future issues and concerns that may arise after opening.
- In early fall, the business owner reapplied for a new development permit to have the entire space be used for a liquor store (and remove the grocery store). Our office sent the new opportunity to comment on the permit out to community members who had previously voiced a concern. We also noticed they had shared it on the community’s social media pages.
- My office met with the Planning team on December 2, 2022 to broach the concerns about the distance to sensitive uses, such as schools, and this was the response captured:
I’m also confirming that the distance from the Liquor Store to the middle school is about 168 metres. As mentioned, there were no proximity rules in 1994, but this question came up in our meeting and as it turns out, if today’s rules applied, the Liquor Store would comply. (Land Use Bylaw 1P2007 requires 150.0 metres from a Liquor Store to a school.) It is also important to note that the preschool does not follow the same proximity rules because they are a private business.
- We subsequently discussed the proportion of similar development permits in the area, including High Street where a liquor store is across from a preschool with no reported issues and in neighbouring Copperfield. While there are no restrictions on the clustering of similar businesses, in this case, liquor stores, we pointed out the lack of diversity and stagnation of retail spaces without a change to policy. We will advocate for potential changes as these landuse bylaws are refreshed in the coming months/years
In this situation, a business owner, with a legal business, wants to operate in a location they are legally entitled to occupy. While I would prefer to see locations like this optimized to bring the community together, I need to be careful to not unduly interfere with the process. My office appreciates the feedback received from residents and encourages all to use the processes in place to provide comments where available. As an advocate for thriving communities and strong neighbour relationships, I am encouraged by those actively looking to improve their neighbourhood. As your elected representative I will push for thoughtful review and changes to the policy and process.
Thank you for standing up for what you believe in. If you have any further concerns, please reach out to the Ward 12 Office.