A Skaha Lake dog product shop will be expanding its services to include daycare, grooming and other services after Penticton council voted unanimously recently to approve the plan.
Okanagan K9 owner Zeina Elgazzar had tried to expand her business at 3693 Skaha Lake Rd. last December to make it capable of hosting up to 10 to 12 pets at a time.
The plan was to offer both grooming and daycare services, where clients could leave pets, sometimes overnight, in a 24-hour-staffed cage-free environment with various activities to keep them busy. Elgazzar also requested the city not limit the number of animals allowed in the facility at one time as she hoped to expand the business.
The building would be lined with sound proof walls and metal clad doors, she said.
The sound proofing assurances, however, were not enough to ease the fears of some residents in the neighbourhood.
Opponents to the proposal turned up at a public hearing expressing concerns regarding noise, dog droppings left in the park and the negative affect the business might have on property values in the neighbourhood.
In the end, only Coun. Judy Sentes and former-councillor turned MP Dan Albas supported Elgazzar’s plan and so she was forced to revise it.
This time, she proposed to limit the business to 10 dogs with no overnight stays while adding a “multi-service canine centre” including grooming, alternative therapy and indoor training classes to the list of permitted uses at the site.
The city’s manager of planning Anthony Haddad told council the 10-dog limit and removal of over-night stays is a suitable response to the issues raised by Okanagan K9’s neighbours.
“The issue of noise has been addressed by having the dogs supervised at all times,” Haddad told council. “(Elgazzar) has stated that the dogs will never be left unattended indoors or outdoors.
“Dogs walking in the park was also an issue. The applicant has advised that the dogs will always be on leash when off property and will always be cleaned up after.”
Haddad noted the existing city zoning for the site already allows for commercial uses, making it an “appropriate location” for such a business.
“Staff consider the restrictions being proposed … are appropriate in response to the issues raised at the previous public hearing,” he concluded.
Plus, according to city planning technologist Darryl Haddrell, the services would likely be well-utilized by residents and tourists alike.
“Research has found that this type of use appears to be growing and it could have a benefit to the tourist community,” he reported.
Still, residents turned out to a second public hearing on the matter to once again urge council to reject the expansion proposal with many citing noise concerns as the primary reason for their objection — an issue Coun. Judy Sentes took exception with.
“I have taken the opportunity to tour the facility and I wonder if you have?” Sentes asked one speaker, the answer to which was: “no.”
“I think in fairness you should because they have gone to great lengths to accommodate some of your concerns and I think it would be fair.”
Mayor Dan Ashton thanked residents for participating in the process, before imploring them to use the city’s bylaw complaint process if they believe the business is breaking noise rules.
“It will be up to (Elgazzar) and her staff to be doing enough to appease everybody in the neighbourhood,” said Ashton.