The Masonic Hall has been rezoned to allow for furniture storage and unloading.

Prince Rupert Masonic Hall rezoned for warehouse use after lengthy public hearing

After a lengthy public hearing the Masonic Hall has been rezoned to allow for furniture storage for Mackenzie Furniture.

After a lengthy public hearing and no shortage of debate around council chambers, the Masonic Hall has been rezoned to allow for furniture storage for Mackenzie Furniture.

The first speaker at the public hearing, which lasted approximately 90 minutes, was Masons treasurer Jim West, who said renting the hall was a necessity for the organization.

“We need additional income to maintain the upkeep of the 1930 heritage building … this is needed for us to keep using that building,” he said, acknowledging the Masons have heard concerns about the proposal.

“If we did not think this was a safe and responsible long-term proposal, we would not be pursuing it.”

Following West, Mackenzie Furniture owner Rob Eby outlined some of the steps the business has taken to address those concerns, including accepting a restrictive covenant on the building that would limit freight loading and unloading times to between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. and limit its use to solely his business. Much like the Masons, Eby said this rezoning would play a critical role in plans for a major expansion of the store that are currently underway.

“There is a real absence of anywhere to rent warehouse space in town. We are in the midst of growing our business, are on the cusp on big things, and expanding the business will significantly limit our warehouse area,” he said.

“I really need to have space that is close to the store and I looked and looked and couldn’t find any other option.”

While many stepped forward to support the rezoning, noting the steps Mackenzie Furniture had taken to address concerns and the need for council to support a growing business, there were also several detractors from the proposals.

“Safety is the main issue. McBride and 6th is a very busy intersection and there have already been a number of accidents there … Moose Tot Park is used by families across the city and I have heard concerns from people all around town about an increase in large truck traffic near the park,” said nearby resident Jean Eiers-Page.

“My concern is with safety. Being a child who was hit by a vehicle myself, I know what it is like because I am lucky to be here today … it only takes a second for a child to lose focus,” added Elaine Hupman.

For others, the opposition was based on a desire to keep industrial uses out of residential areas.

“You can really destroy a town with bad zoning decisions … I think we’re going to se a bad precedent with this,” said Bob Thompson.

“If it goes ahead I think it is setting a terrible precedent … you will have a patchwork throughout town of applicants looking to locate light industrial and I don’t think that is what the city should do,” added Douglas McLeod.

When it came time to vote the rezoning was passed by a margin of 5-2, with Mayor Lee Brain and  councillors Barry Cunningham, Nelson Kinney, Blair Mirau and Gurvinder Randhawa in favour and councillors Wade Niesh and Joy Thorkelson opposed. While councillors in favour cited the efforts of the proponent and the desire to support small business growth, those opposed cited safety related to the sites proximity to the park.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Aimed at success – the launch hit the target

Prince Rupert teen Brendan Eshom launches educational software app that hits Apple’s “Top Charts”

Getting a head for cancer research

Prince Rupert Cops for Cancer want to flush away the illness with loads of donations for research

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Four air ambulance flights out of Terrace delayed or cancelled

Pandemic precautions caused nighttime closure of service station providing weather data to pilots

Skeena Resources, Tahltan prez excited by purchase of Eskay Creek

Skeena gets full control of mine, Barrick gets 12 per cent of Skeena and a one per cent royalty

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

‘Trauma equals addiction’: Why some seek solace in illicit drugs

Part 2: Many pushed into addiction by ‘toxic stress,’ says White Rock psychologist

Most Read