Contributed photo The property is zoned as neighbourhood commercial, but owner Donald Kirkby says pressure is more for affordable housing, not storefronts.

Thornhill property owner asks to rent commercial space to residential tenants

Donald Kirkby says pressure is for more affordable housing, not storefronts

A landowner in Thornhill is requesting the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine (RDKS) to allow him to temporarily rezone his property from commercial to residential after receiving multiple calls from hopeful tenants.

Two commercial restaurants have failed at the location, according to the property owner of Grassy Creek Logging Ltd., Donald Kirkby. He is now requesting a temporary use permit (TUP) for three units to be used as rental housing for three years.

“With the LNG coming, there’s a huge demand for rentals right now and there are very few places to rent,” says Kirkby. “I bought the place for commercial rentals but there’s been absolutely no demand.”

The permit has passed two readings by the RDKS board of directors, and will now go to a public hearing before approval.

Located at the corner of Hemlock St. and Old Lakelse Lake Rd., is zoned as Neighbourhood Commercial (C2). It is currently the site of a single-story structure with two self-contained residential units inside, and a mobile home.

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In his application submitted last October, Kirkby wrote that his buildings are presently empty as he has not been able to find any viable commercial business to rent them out to.

But due to the lack of affordable rentals available in the Terrace area, he says he’s received multiple calls from prospective residential tenants.

Previously, the single-story structure was used to operate two restaurants but both have closed.

Kirkby wants to retain the C2 zoning in the long term, as there is little commercial space in Upper Thornhill he thinks eventually there will be a need for a business space as the area grows — especially if the population increases as expected in response to LNG Canada’s proposed multi-billion facility in Kitimat

Letters of support from surrounding neighbours accompanied Kirkby’s application.

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If approved, Kirkby will be granted a TUP for a maximum of three years and with a one-time opportunity for the renewal of the permit.

Thornhill Zoning Bylaw No. 194 will go to board for third and final reading following public input on Feb. 19 at the regular RDKS board meeting.

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