Firefighters scrub away at the fundraising car wash at Bow Mel in Duncan. (Citizen file)

Editorial: Duncan relents on dealerships at 11th hour

We don’t hear much about communities urging businesses to leave town.

We hear a lot about communities offering incentives for various businesses to locate within their boundaries.

We don’t hear much about communities urging businesses to leave town.

But until Monday night the City of Duncan was saying no thanks to car dealerships — even the ones currently at home in the city.

An 11th hour amendment just before third reading of a new package of zoning bylaws has now reversed what was egregiously shoddy treatment of a longtime city business, and one new one that’s just opened its doors.

In the case of Bow-Mel Chrysler, the dealership has called the city home for 50 years. But it seemed the City of Duncan was going to be happy to say goodbye altogether before the amendment.

The new bylaws are significantly simplifying the hodgepodge of zones that exist within the city. So far so good. But council had decided they would prefer the land currently occupied by Bow-Mel and the virtually brand new Nissan dealership to become higher density developments.

What they had done was say that the dealerships could continue to operate on their land for now, but if anything catastrophic happened to the buildings, such as a fire, they could not rebuild. They would also have been barred from doing any major renovations to the buildings without going through a board of variance, which could well have turned them down.

It’s all well and good to decide that the city doesn’t want new car dealerships to locate in its heart (though in that case why Nissan was allowed to open is baffling). We would even agree that higher density housing and mixed commercial-residential is the way to move forward in the area. But the car dealership that’s been there for decades deserved better, and we’re glad they’ve now gotten it. But it should be investigated how this got this far without alarm bells going off.

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