The District of Invermere heard from local residents on the proposed Westside Park gas bar development plan at a public hearing on Monday, April 10th.

Developer Barry Brown- John presented his plans for the property, if council grants amendments necessary for the gas station to be built on the already commercially zoned property. The Westside Park property currently has C-3 zoning, which allows uses such as video store, beauty salon and barber shop and a convenience store. The amendments would change the zoning to allow for a gas bar.

Mr. Brown-John and his wife Pat are asking for amendments because they couldn’t get any investors to take on the convenience store without the presence of a gas station.

If I could do it without a gas bar it would be done, said Mr. Brown-John.

Community residents in attendance asked Mr. Brown-John whether or not the gas tanks would be above or below, in which he stated there would be underground storing of around 50,000 litres of gasoline.

Another concern brought forward was traffic flow and child safety in the neighbourhood, including once resident questioning emergency planning in regards to how people will get in and out of the area.

Recognizing the need for more safety measures in the neighbourhood to slow traffic on 13th avenue Mayor Gerry Taft spoke to the concern.

I wouldn’t be surprised if future council put in more stop signs on 13th (Avenue), said Mr. Taft.

After question and answer period Mr. Taft officially opened the meeting to allow for residents and community members to go on record to state their stance on the issue to council.

Colin Hardwick was one of the community members in attendance that was for the development of a gas bar in WestsidePark.

I love the fact that I don’t have to go down the hill to get gas to park my car, said Mr. Hardwick.

Addressing the concerns that were raised over the safety of having a gas bar in a residential area Mr. Hardwick stated there are certain codes and safety measures in place for that.

There’s safety measures already built in by the government, that’s not up to Mr. Brown-John, said Mr. Hardwick.

Chris Raven was opposed to the gas bar, citing the gas station the Shuswap Band is putting in and asking if a community the size of Invermere really need another gas station?

It shouldn’t be a family orientated subdivision if that (putting in a gas station) has always been the plan, said Mr. Raven.

Dave McGrath was another supporter of the project saying the convenience of it is going to add something to the community.

I don’t think it’s an unsightly thing, if it’s done in a tasteful manner, said Mr. McGrath.

Others in attendance were for the convenience store but were against the gas station, with many saying that a gas station doesnt make sense there. One resident of Westside Park said she was for the commercial aspect but against the gas bar saying she was concerned for her children and her own safety.

Some of the people in attendance asked for council to consider the project if it was moved to the south end of the property away from the homes.

The applicant did (previously) propose to do a gas bar on the south end of the property, but the council of the day (when that proposal came forward) did defeat (voted against) that proposal, said Mr. Taft.

Residences of the Westside Park development and nearby areas brought forward concerns of decreased value of their homes, saying they knew when they purchased their homes about the plans for a convenience store but not a gas station.

I understand it has to change, I don’t know if a gas bar is the right way to do it, said Jillian Cochrane.

Council will take into consideration all the community concerns and opinions on the development and decide if this development is the right change for the neighbourhood. Council will discuss the Westside Park Development on Monday, April 24th at their council meeting.