Estevan City Council has given its blessing for a contentious new hotel project to proceed.
Second and third reading for a rezoning bylaw that was needed for the hotel project to happen was granted at Council's October 7 meeting. The project is located on Kensington Avenue, south of Advance Building Products.
The hotel will be developed on 3.08 acres of land, and it will boast 119 rooms, which means it will offer significant relief for Estevan's ongoing accommodation shortage. But there were concerns about the hotel's location in a heavy industrial area, and traffic issues on Kensington Avenue, which is already heavily congested.
Mayor Roy Ludwig noted that land development services manager Rob Denys was supportive of the project. Denys discussed the project with Council prior to the October 7 meeting.
“The face of Kensington is changing, with the fact that it's moving more from heavy industrial to things such as motels and hotels,” said Ludwig.
Councillor Chris Istace was the only member of council to vote against the project. He said that business owners on Kensington are also opposed.
“The feeling in the community is that the area between the train tracks (on Kensington Avenue) is the heartbeat of the oil sector in Estevan,” said Istace.
One neighbouring business, Sam's Trucking, stated in a letter to council that they have trucks leaving their yard as early as 4 a.m. They're also concerned that fumes generated by the trucks could be an inconvenience for the hotel's guests.
Other highlights from the meeting were:
*Two employees have announced they will be retiring: Jeff Aspenlieder from public works and Sharon Carlson from the treasury department.
*Council would like to have greater freedom to set speed limits at the entrances to the city. The Ministry of Highways can currently veto any speed limit changes. Ludwig says motorists can legally drive 80 kilometres per hour at some of Estevan's entrances, which he said is too fast. City Council will send a resolution to the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) outlining their plan. Councillor Dennis Moore said that the issue was discussed at a recent SUMA regional meeting in Lampman, and the smaller communities want to be able to set speed limits, too.
*Can-Traffic has inspected and repaired traffic lights in the community. They'll be back at a later date to complete the work.
*Pedestrian lights for the mid-block crossings in the 1100 and 1200 blocks of Fourth Street are nearly finished.
*A request to have snowblowers installed for skid-steers and tractors during snow clearing efforts was tabled until a future meeting. It would improve the speed of removing snow from parking lots, pathways, sidewalks and other areas.
*Eleven building permits worth $2.2 million were issued in September, bringing the total for 2013 to 100 permits worth a little more than $26.5 million.