What if the shoe doesn’t fit?

The rules are the rules, whether we like them or not.

Nowhere is this truer than as it applies to municipal zoning.

I find clients can easily get discouraged in property searches when they discover where their business is, and is not welcome, as determined by the local zoning bylaw.

Where there’s a will there’s a way

I believe there is a commercial space to accommodate everyone.

Is that space in your ideal neighbourhood or the building you think it should be?

The solution isn’t trying to rezone or bend the zoning to suit your use; rather, time should be spent at the beginning of your search for areas that won’t be an issue.

Why so picky?

I’d attribute the rigidness of Saskatoon’s zoning bylaws to more mindful municipal planning.

Back in the day, zoning seems like it was an afterthought.

You drive through parts of Holiday Park or Sutherland today and you can see single family homes right across the street from industrial properties.

Can you imagine that springing up in Willowgrove or Kensington today?

Intentional planning

In general, municipalities are now conscious not to allow noxious or high traffic commercial adjacent low density residential.

You could compare current neighbourhood planning to a bullseye.

The centre is reserved for the highest commercial uses. Like a target, this is a small, finite area.

The next ring moving outwards is lower traffic commercial, such as office users as opposed to retailers.

Then, you’d expect to see a buffer of medium density housing, perhaps apartments or townhouses.

The farthest from the centre of that commercial activity will be single family homes.

Because planners are striving to create a sensible traffic flow that allows for functionality and comfort of all property owners, there is an impact as to where certain uses can locate in a new neighbourhood.

By the book

Most municipalities readily publish their zoning bylaws online. Often this will be accompanied with a zoning map to better illustrate individual address zoning.

It’s important to note that even when use aligns with zoning, there can then be further hurdles to clear such as meeting parking requirements.

Ultimately, a municipality is not going to allow your use on a site that doesn’t accommodate you. Regardless of how many times you lobby them!

Have they been wrong before? You bet.

We see spot zoning and rezoning where an argument could be made to bend the rules.

But this is an onerous path to go down and there is no guarantee of success.

Ultimately, I recommend clients continue the hunt and find something that adheres to the use more closely out of the gate.

Posted by Kelly Macsymic

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