Lethbridge gymnastics company denied parking waiver, expansion put on hold

Click to play video 'Lethbridge Gymnastics Academy denied expansion, fighting for parking waiver approval' Lethbridge Gymnastics Academy denied expansion, fighting for parking waiver approval
WATCH ABOVE: After being refused a parking waiver in order to expand its business, the Lethbridge Gymnastics Academy is appealing the decision, saying it does not even need the parking space. Eloise Therien explains. – Sep 24, 2020

A Lethbridge business is speaking out after being denied a parking waiver with the City of Lethbridge, meaning its hopes of expanding are currently on hold.

Andrea Seright, owner of Lethbridge Gymnastics Academy, says the one-year-old facility has outgrown its 1,600-square-foot space.

The gym is located on 32 Street N., in a complex with several other bays. Its capacity is 50 people, but Seright says the current gym cannot even hold that many.

“Due to our coach-to-athlete ratio, we would never have 50 people,” Seright explained. “For the expansion, we’re not looking to increase our occupancy at all.”

Read more: Edmonton removes minimum parking requirements city-wide

Seright says she started renting the two adjacent bays about a month ago, and applied for a parking waiver with the City of Lethbridge. It was refused.

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The refusal, dated Aug. 24, states: “A further parking waiver of 13 spaces is required to permit expansion of the ‘fitness facility’ use into units 4 and 5. A total of four spaces have been previously waived for approved uses in adjacent units, including the bay the ‘fitness facility’ currently occupies.”

The city says this is a “very significant parking waiver” that cannot be supported.

However, Seright is adamant that her business is not similar to other typical fitness facilities in that most of its members are young children who cannot drive.

“We operate different than a fitness facility,” she said. “Most [people] drive to the gym, park there, you stay for an hour or two and then you leave. Here, no one stays.”

The refusal also cites a requirement for the other businesses to have access to parking.

“The development authority notes the building has a total of seven owned condominium units,” it reads. “Each of these units, their respective owners and uses/tenants should have access to parking on the property.

“If the building were one single unit with no division of bays, uses or owners, then the impact of a waiver would be on the building occupant and not a collective group.”

Global Lethbridge spoke with two of the businesses in the same building who said parking capacity is never an issue, and they don’t believe LGA’s expansion would affect that.

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“Our busy times are evenings and weekends, when all the other businesses are closed,” Seright said.

With an appeal scheduled to be heard by the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board on Oct. 1at 6 p.m., Seright is hopeful a change can be made.

“The specifics for a gymnastics facility are what we have here,” she said. “We need 20-foot ceiling clearance height, we need space for a 40-foot floor, we need space for people to be able to jump on trampolines and it’s very hard to find.”

In June, Edmonton became the first city in Canada to remove minimum parking requirements, instead allowing businesses to decide how much parking to provide.