City council is eager to hear what the proponents behind a new downtown liquor store have to say for themselves.
The owners of the Coast Inn of the North have submitted a rezoning application to allow for the establishment of a permanent retail liquor store in the hotel.
Two years ago they were granted a temporary use permit that expires in November 2013, but so far nothing has been set up.
City council approved the first two readings of the bylaw amendment Monday night to advance the application to the public hearing process where they hope to have some questions answered.
"I do have some concerns with the application here," said Coun. Cameron Stolz. "When this was first presented to us, the manager of the Coast hotel was here with the agent that he was using and they were... presenting a high-end retail store and some promises around the type of alcohol that was going to be sold."
Mayor Shari Green said she phoned the applicant, S&B Management for Okabe North America, and that they weren't available to answer any questions she had.
The city's planning department recommends approving the application, as it fits with the Official Community Plan's decree to "revitalize downtown as the commercial, cultural and civic heart of the community."
According to a report from planning staff, the change in zoning from C5: Local Commercial to C1: Downtown allows for a range of "uses appropriate for the downtown, including hotels, apartments, office, retail, liquor retail and liquor primary establishments."
Both Coun. Dave Wilbur and Green reiterated that this has come before council and that council has already granted approval to a liquor store on the premises.
"It's certainly of interest to find out why the long delay and we can do that in a public hearing process, but this is not a fresh application other than the changing of the zoning to accommodate," he said.
Coun. Albert Koehler was the sole vote against the application.
"I'm principally against liquor stores and additional liquor licenses downtown," he said. "It's just me and I don't think it enhances downtown life."
A July letter from S&B Management said the proposed rezoning and subsequent retail liquor store would complement the 155-room hotel and "its objective of offering its guests and the surrounding community convenience within a luxury environment."
The letter also said that the addition of the "upscale retail outlet in the downtown area will support and may attract new residents moving to the area as it is one of many conveniences wanted in a growing community."
When the temporary use permit was granted in 2010 to turn the former Sargeant O'Flaherty's pub into a retail liquor store several different groups, including the Prince George Public Library, the Downtown Business Improvement Association and the Nezul Be Hunuyeh Child and Family Services spoke against it.
Green recalled public concern over the perception the temporary use permitting process has skirted the public process.
"If [the applicants] do wish to proceed and have a viable business that operates, they do need to go through that process for rezoning, so these are the appropriate steps being taken," Green said.