Kim Delesoy has modest expansion goals for Spirit of the Dragon Martial Arts School. She plans on building a 12 by 30 foot addition to work as a storage area for equipment. The goal is to use the freed up space to run their program for low-income kids more frequently.
However, once she began going through the permitting process she found out a proposed bylaw change may prevent the development.
“We were told we were OK to go ahead with it, but if the zoning were to take effect before we got our addition we would no longer be allowed to do that,” Delesoy said.
“That encouraged us to look into it a little bit more and we realized that if this goes through it affects us and a lot of other businesses in the area quite drastically.”
The proposed bylaw would change what kind of businesses are allowed in industrial zoned areas, like the Warehouse District where Spirit of the Dragon is located.
If passed by council, it would mean no more gyms or recreation facilities can be set up in these areas. Existing businesses will be grandfathered in, but cannot build additions.
Delesoy also worries how this may impact her lease. Spirit of the Dragon has been located at a 7,000 square foot facility in the 1200 block of Lorne Street for 11 years.
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“They’ve said that if we weren’t at this location they wouldn’t be doing this type of programming. They don’t have the means to get to the outskirts of town.”
Changes to the zoning bylaw are set to be discussed in a special city council meeting on June 17. Written submissions have to be in before June 11.
Ward Six Councillor Joel Murray represents much of Regina’s industrial area and wants to see a provision put in place to continue to allow for gyms.
“I would like to see something that takes into account the low cost and the availability of facilities in the warehouse and industrial ends of the city. It’s easier to start a gym in those areas because the cost is lower,” Murray said.
“The fact I’m not hearing anything for concerns tells me I don’t know what the problem is we’re trying to fix.”
In a statement, the city said the Official Community Plan aims to keep industrial areas industrial, and avoid converting those properties to non-industrial facilities like gyms.
The city emphasized the proposed change is meant to encourage the development of recreational facilities in residential and other commercial areas “that complement and support complete communities”.
According to the Warehouse Business Improvement District, they have 26 members that are affected by the proposed zoning change and 38 properties. They are setting up a working group with the city to try and find a resolution.
Delesoy said that she and many other gym owners chose the Warehouse District because they have large enough buildings and they’re more affordable.
“For our type of business, we can’t really survive outside of the industrial zone area because we’re not a commercial business,” she said.
“In order for us to survive outside of this area we would have to increase our price so much it’d be guaranteed we lose all of our low income families.”