Craig’s Table is one step closer to opening on Carson Avenue.
Quesnel council approved a development permit to convert the existing building at 490 Carson Ave. to a dine-in and catering restaurant on the main floor, with a residential unit on the second floor, at its Nov. 3 meeting.
The building, which is across from the Quesnel and District Seniors’ Centre, was previously a day care.
Two variances are needed to deal with off-street parking and access requirements. One reduces the number of required off-street parking spaces to three large car spaces, while the other reduces the minimum width of a two-way aisle to from 7.5 metres to 4.5 metres.
The development permit is subject to fulfilling recommendations made by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) regarding access and the site’s Carson Avenue frontage.
“Although a restaurant did exist in this building for many years, its use was converted to a day care for a few years,” Tanya Turner, the City’s director of development services, wrote in her report to council. “Conversion back to a restaurant does include building occupancy considerations and conformance with parking requirements.”
Craig’s Table, which was previously on Reid Street, is proposing a restaurant with 79 seats available post-COVID-19 on the main floor and a residential unit on the second floor, which is intended to be used by the operators of the restaurant.
In a letter to council accompanying the development permit application, Craig’s Table owner-operators Craig and Rebecca Sherstan say their business activities based out of this location will include the restaurant offering dine-in, take-out and possibly delivery service; catering and outdoor events with their food trailer; and three concessions — Quesnel Junior School, Correlieu Secondary School and the Quesnel Curling Club.
Turner says the property is zoned Downtown Commercial, and restaurant and residential use (above commercial use) is permitted in this zone.
Turner told council the proposal does not include significant changes to the outward appearance of the building, outside of new signage and a new parking plan layout.
Upon MOTI’s initial review, access to the off-street parking area cannot be from Highway 97 (Carson Avenue), and the parking area may have to be divided by cement barriers, and “no parking” signage on the Highway 97 frontage may be required, according to Turner. Final comments have not been received by the ministry yet, but Turner expects them shortly.
“Highways wants very limited to no access/egress off this site,” said Turner. “We’ve worked with the applicants to work around and design a parking plan for that. It basically came down to the site configuration of that area requiring the parking to be limited to three stalls, which will be used for employees and for the owners of the business.”
The off-street parking area is accessed by a City laneway, which is primarily used for parking for the RCMP Detachment and access to the Grace Inn.
The proposed development does not meet the required number of parking stalls for a restaurant and accessory dwelling unit. The required number for this development is 41, including one accessible stall, but the ability to improve access, circulation and parking on the site to meet the guidelines is limited due to the lot size and configuration of the building on the lot, according to Turner.
An additional seven parking spaces are being negotiated by the applicant at the rear of 184 Davie St., which are to be accessed by the back lane.
“Being in the downtown core, the subject property is near several City parking lots, which will provide the proposed restaurant with their customer parking,” Turner wrote in her report. “This is the case for the majority of the restaurants int he downtown area, which is why the City maintains City public parking spaces.”
Variance notices were mailed to residents, occupants and owners within 30 metres of the subject property on Oct. 23, and City staff did not receive any submissions about the application.
The Sherstans feel granting this variance and allowing them to open their doors at this location will have a positive impact on the neighbourhood and the city for several reasons.
Visitors to the West Fraser Centre, Quesnel Curling Centre, Quesnel and District Seniors’ Centre, LeBourdais Park and Quesnel and District Museum and Archives will have easy walking access to food and beverage — which is a draw for tournament and event organizers, as well as attendees, they noted. The motel next door will have a place for its guest to eat that does not require driving and taking up other downtown parking.
As well, having one less unoccupied building on the main highway through town will improve the feeling of safety and contribute to welcoming people to the downtown area, they pointed out.
With the new location, the Sherstans will be able to continue to employ 15-20 individuals, and they will be able to continue to promote and support events and charities in Quesnel, they added.
Councillors were happy to support the Sherstans.
“I find this very encouraging, especially at this point in time,” said Coun. Ron Paull. “It shows a real vote of confidence in our local economy.”
Coun. Mitch Vik thanked the Sherstans.
“I look forward to seeing you guys up and running again,” he said.
Mayor Bob Simpson noted if the interconnector goes through and takes highway traffic off Carson Avenue, that area could become a busy pedestrian-friendly spot.
“I wish you the best,” he said. “It’s one of the most difficult times for the business that you’re in … I think the gameplan we have for that entire area, as we keep tracking on the interconnector, along with Barkerville Brewing and others, you’re going to be in the heart of what we hope is a high-traffic pedestrian mobile area, so fingers crossed you can get through the near-term, and we’ll keep working on that mid-term to make it a good environment for you.”