‘Found’ space in Westin raises concerns 

An attempt by a local hotel to make its non-conforming space legal has raised a host of concerns for council.

The Westin Resort & Spa is looking to legalize roughly 1,370 square metres (or almost 15,000 square feet) of "found" space.

This space was never part of the original building development.

Instead, during the evolution of the hotel operations the owners realized that they did not have enough space for administration and storage and so they simply began taking over non-conforming areas in the existing building without getting permits.

Bob MacPherson, general manager of planning and development at the RMOW, presented council with the application to date and looked for feedback before scheduling a public open house.

Councillor Nick Davies pointed out that as non-conforming space, the municipality could ask the Westin to stop using it and wall it up.

This gives the municipality a little bargaining power.

Davies said he wanted assurances that the Westin never attempt to move from a Class 6 commercial tax zone to a Class 1 residential. A Class 1 zone would mean the hotel would get taxed at a far lower rate.

This overhanging threat makes it very difficult for the municipality to gauge its tax revenues from year to year.

The municipality has been trying to work with the province to resolve this issue for some time now.

Until that time comes Davies called for a proviso that would regulate the non-conforming space as long as the Westin stays Class 6.

Councillor Ken Melamed talked about another outstanding issue in addition to the Class 1/6, the employee housing that the Westin has yet to provide the community.

Cressey, the development company that build the Westin, still has an obligation to provide 120 employee beds.

"As far as I’m concerned we shouldn’t even be looking at this until (the employee housing issue) is resolved," said Melamed.

MacPherson said the company has recently bought the Shoestring Lodge/Boot Pub property and is looking to provide the outstanding employee housing there as part of its rezoning application.

Mayor Hugh O’Reilly suggested that there should be a way for the municipality to ensure that future hotels have enough space in the first place so that they don’t have to develop non-conforming space later on down the line.

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