It’s yet to be seen whether a proposed seniors residence will be coming to the site of the Square One professional building.
 
The building’s owners want to convert the property into a 24-hour-care assisted living facility for seniors but need city approval before starting renovations. Current zoning does not allow for residential use of the site.
 
After hearing from concerned tenants of the building at Tuesday’s (May 22) meeting, Fort Saskatchewan council unanimously agreed to put off making a decision on the matter until June 12.
 
The delay is meant to give the involved parties more time to consider their positions and work through their concerns.
 
“We were tasked with a zoning bylaw change which seems very attractive from a city perspective and from a council perspective,” said councillor Brian Kelly. “The only persons to speak against it were... local businesses who expressed their extreme concern about the future of their business.”

Kelly added that there is a need for more seniors housing in Fort Saskatchewan.
 
“We have Dr. Turner Lodge which is an excellent facility, but there's a long waiting list for that facility. We need more supply in town and this would create that supply.”

Square One currently houses a number of businesses and services, including a dental clinic, day care and pharmacy. Proposed renovation plans include a three-storey addition that will enlarge the building by 60 to 75 per cent to make room for the 50-unit seniors residence. The main floor of the new building will include a dining room as well as space for retail services.
 
Dr. Inderpal Parmar, who leases space on the third floor of Square One to run his dental clinic, was one of three people who spoke in opposition to the proposed changes. Parmar said he has been running his clinic since 2010 and now serves over 1000 patients.
 
"We put our blood, sweat and tears into this clinic and we built this up,” he said.
 
If the rezoning goes through, he will have to set up a new clinic somewhere else, a move he said would be costly and time-consuming.
 
In objecting to the rezoning Parmar said communication from the building’s owners has been inadequate, leaving him unaware of how the rezoning might affect his practice.
 
"It's a little concerning as a business owner being in Fort Saskatchewan and not knowing what's going to be happening with your current space and your clinic,” he said.
 
Omar Masudi, speaking on behalf of Heartland Childcare Centre, the day care that operates on the first floor of the building, also spoke against the renovations. Although the rezoning would allow Heartland to remain in place, Masudi said he was concerned about how the construction process would affect the families who use the day care.
 
Mayor Gale Katchur reminded council that their job was to deal with land use matters, not to interfere between landlords and tenants.
 
"It's not our business to get in the weeds of what a developer is doing with their tenants,” she said.

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