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Operators of Calgary Dairy Queen win appeal to rebuild burned-down restaurant

The Dairy Queen on Centre Street was destroyed following a fire in October 2019, and the franchisees and property owners are hoping to rebuild it. Global News

The owners of a Dairy Queen that burned down nearly two years ago have won their fight to rebuild their restaurant in its original Centre Street location, following a decision by Calgary’s Subdivision and Development Appeal Board.

City of Calgary administration rejected the franchisees’ application to rebuild, citing planned modifications to the drive-thru, as well as the overall size of the restaurant, which the city said didn’t qualify as a like-for-like rebuild, but instead was a proposal for a new build.

Read more: City of Calgary committed to work with Dairy Queen franchisee toward rebuild

There was also concern the reconfigured building would interfere with a planned Green Line LRT station destined for the area in the coming years.

The decision came as a blow to the family who ran the Dairy Queen. Jukyun and Heesin Shim, who had immigrated to Canada from Korea in 2001, saved their money for years to open the establishment.

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The rejection of the application also sparked widespread community reaction, with even city councillor Jeromy Farkas openly voicing his disappointment.

Read more: Calgary councillors question Farkas’ petition supporting Dairy Queen rebuild

The Shims appealed the decision to the SDAB, which overturned the refusal on Wednesday, meaning the family can rebuild.

The SDAB said in its decision that while the city planners are trying to establish the stretch of Centre Street as an urban main street, meaning they wanted to avoid drive-thrus, the surrounding context supports a rebuild with the changed drive-thru, loading area and landscaping.

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“The proposed development is, from a planning perspective, appropriate for the site with the revised conditions of approval as noted herein.”

The SDAB said the changes around the loading area and landscaping were “minor” and would have “no significant impact.”

The board also said the landscaping would “further enhance the public realm,” and contribute to a “more pedestrian-friendly urban main street interface.”

The SDAB also said that in rejecting the original proposal, the city’s planning department “failed to exercise its discretion appropriately and in accordance with sound planning principles, thereby failing to follow the direction of council.”

Read more: Dairy Queen franchisee appealing development permit denial from City of Calgary

Coun. Ward Sutherland celebrated the decision Wednesday, tweeting it was “great news for business” and that he was happy the process “corrected” the situation.

“My understanding (is) planning is assisting the application now,” he said.

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