Thursday, October 20, 2011

Are Bylaws, Covenants & Zoning Merely Suggestions In Nanaimo??

The current debate between the owners of Westwood Racquet Club and the Bethlehem Retreat brought to light yet again some of the 'wild west' attitude that has been applied in areas of Nanaimo over the years.

From my observations at the last city council meeting after listening to nearly 20 people it is logical to conclude that zoning and land use contracts are of little consequence when their is no appetite to enforce them.

This was brought into sharp focus when a gentleman who happens to be a lawyer, was speaking in support of the Racquet club commented that the club had never honored the terms of the land use contract from the moment they opened their doors. I found that a little surprising.

The Cliffs notes on this story:

It seems the land occupied by the racquet club came out of the agricultural reserve and got a special land use contract allowing for a PRIVATE tennis club to operate on the site, they were also allowed to have a restaurant and bar for MEMBERS ONLY. This rule apparently never has been adhered to and they have served the general public from day one. Like all laws in our society as long as we choose not to enforce them, they are meaningless.

The Bethlehem Retreat Centre operates a spiritual retreat on nearby property and for the past 16 years or so the two companies have operated in relative harmony. Since they are both in the business of offering people a respite from the pressures of daily life they are offering people different approaches to a similar end.

While the retreat's main feature is peace and solitude the idea of increased traffic and the associated noise coming from an expanding racquet club is troublesome. Apparently the racquet club have expanded their restaurant business and increased their liquor licence (with proper building permits is unknown) and are faced with the economic reality that opening to the public with the increased revenue that will bring, is the only viable way forward for the club.

The issue does not seem to be if the retreat and the current owners can come to an agreement but whether there is any assurance that down the road, the club won't turn into a thriving public restaurant, catering to special events etc., with increased traffic and extended hours becoming a threat to the peace and solitude that the Retreat is build upon.


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