After giving the owner of the Square One professional building a few more weeks to communicate with concerned tenants, Fort Saskatchewan city council has approved a rezoning of the site to allow for the construction of a seniors residence.
The building’s owners want to convert the property into a 24-hour-care assisted living facility for seniors. Proposed renovation plans include a three-storey addition that will enlarge the building by 60 to 75 per cent to make room for a 50-unit residence and main-floor retail space.
On Tuesday (Jun.12), council approved rezoning of the site to allow for residential use, giving the property's owners the green light to go ahead with planned renovations.
"Pretty much everything has been done, and it's time to move forward,” said councillor Ed Sperling.
At a previous meeting on May 22, council opted to delay finalizing a decision on the rezoning, allowing the building’s owner and tenants more time to work through some concerns.
Square One currently houses a number of businesses and services, including a dental clinic, day care and pharmacy. Some of the business owners spoke against the proposed changes at the May 22 meeting. Dr. Inderpal Parmar, who leases space on the third floor of Square One to run his dental clinic, said the rezoning would mean moving his clinic to a new location.
Council said at the time it was not their job to become involved in landlord and tenant legal disputes. Councillor Brian Kelly pointed out more recently that council’s duties lie elsewhere.
"That is council's job, to consider the request and to judge that request fairly based on the bylaws that we have and the land use bylaws that we have in our city, and to make a decision based on that.”
Although the rezoning has been given the go-ahead, actual construction on the new project could be some time away.
"The rezoning doesn't mean that that building is going to rebuilt tomorrow. It doesn't mean that the building will be rebuilt. It means that the building owner has the ability to rebuild the building in a different format,” Kelly said.