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Local dog groomer in Sidney expresses support for shut-down competitor

Kimberli Koh also frustrated by council’s decisions around Pooch Parlour
Kimberli Koh of Happy Tail Dog Service in Sidney laments council’s decision to offer a shut-down competitor a chance to apply for a temporary use permit, after committee of the whole recommended support for OCP and zoning changes that could have allowed Pooch Parlour to remain in a West Sidney industrial area. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

A Sidney business owner has nothing but sympathy and support for a shuttered competitor whose chances of operating in a West Sidney industrial area suffered a blow with council’s reversal of an earlier decision.

Dog groomer Kimberli Koh of Happy Tail Dog Service said she’s frustrated by council’s decision to offer Kathy Banks of Pooch Parlour the chance to apply for a temporary use permit, after initially signalling support for amendments to the OCP and zoning that would have allowed her to remain in an industrial-zoned area.

“I could have almost cried for Kathy. It was an honest mistake.”

Koh said she does not stand to benefit from the situation, noting she was already unable to take new clients before the closure of Banks’ business last month.

“I actually had somebody say to me, ‘oh, aren’t you lucky, there is no competition,’” she said. “And my response is ‘no.’ I welcome the competition. Even with Kathy open and (Sidney) Feed Barn open, we still could have used one more commercial, large groomer. We really honestly could have. Sidney is so over-filled with dogs, there are not enough people in this industry. It’s a hard career choice. It’s very taxing on the body … and it’s not a very glamorous job.”

Pooch Parlor was shut down by municipal officials after Banks, who operated for some years elsewhere in Sidney, applied in January to renew her business licence at the new address. Staff told her the proposed use for the space, personal services, did not comply with the M1 zoning and proceeded to shut her down in March.

Banks acknowledged making a mistake sub-leasing an industrial-zoned space before moving her shop. That acknowledgment, coupled with her business tenure in Sidney and an outpouring of public support may have led Sidney committee of the whole to support her application to amend the OCP and zoning. That support dissolved at council, when two members changed their vote and recommendation to support the application was defeated.

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While council did pass motions that would rezone the space on Malaview Road West for temporary use, Banks said she won’t apply for a temporary use permit, citing the inherent uncertainty of the provision.

Banks’ decision is understandable, Koh said, but what isn’t is how the municipality considers the pet grooming operation a threat to the integrity of the industrial zone. “They are after Kathy for a 400-square-foot space that was sub-letted. It wasn’t rented out before, there was no knocking down the door to get that space.”

Koh also expressed frustration with the process, wondering why councillors re-voted on the issue. “We don’t get to vote twice to bring in a prime minister or premier,” she said. “How is this any different?”

Sidney’s chief administrative officer Randy Humble explained the municipality requires all development applications to come before committee-of-the-whole first. “These meetings are less structured and offer members greater time to consider applications in depth,” he said, adding committee only makes recommendations to council, not final decisions.

The public can continue to share their views on applications when they are discussed at council, he added.

“In some cases, new perspectives are expressed. Council members also continue to give the issue further thought. During a regular council meeting, members make decisions and those decisions may or may not align with committee of the whole recommendations.”

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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