The City of Calgary is committed to working with owners of a Dairy Queen destroyed by fire after their application to rebuild the restaurant was denied by the city’s planning department.
Franchisees Jukyun and Heesin Shim ran the Dairy Queen on Centre Street N.E. for six years before it went up in flames in October 2019.
The couple’s recent application for a permit to rebuild the restaurant, with some modifications, was rejected on the grounds that it would interfere with the planned CTrain expansion in the area.
While the application was “technically sound” and complied with how the land is currently zoned, city documents showed several reasons the permit was rejected, in addition to the planned Green Line LRT station.
Documents also showed the city is looking to avoid drive-thrus as part of the new plan for Centre Street, which involved it being designated an urban main street, and drive-thrus “detract from the pedestrian shopping environment.”
City senior planner Martin Beck also said the application was considered by the planning department as a new development and not a rebuild of the restaurant, because of the modernizations.
The decision was devastating for the owners of the once-bustling Dairy Queen, who’d saved their money for years after arriving in Canada as immigrants from Korea, to build the restaurant.
It also sparked outcry from community members, who wanted to see the family have the opportunity to rebuild and reopen.
In a statement on its Twitter page Friday, the city said it’s heard concerns around the decision and empathizes with the franchisee in the situation.
“In circumstances such as this, applicants have the ability to build a like-for-like structure to replace the original building. This is an option for any business owner in this situation,” the city said in its series of tweets.
“However, the applicant proposed changes to the previous structure and site plan which included a different configuration for the drive-thru and a modest expansion of the building. This then triggered the project to be evaluated against current bylaws and policies.”
The city said it tried to work with the franchisees to ensure their plan fell within the current standards, however, they decided to move forward with their original application before filing their appeal, which was heard on Thursday.
The city said upon the decision by the Subdivision & Development Appeal Board to also reject the proposal, officials are “prepared to continue to work with the applicant on this project, as we recognize the importance of small business success to the Calgary community.”
The city did not say in its statement what kind of changes the franchisees would need to make to their proposal for the rebuild of the restaurant to be approved, or how it plans to go about working with the family to ensure the next phase of their permit application might be accepted.
— With files from Adam MacVicar, Global News
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