A market study finds most downtown Nelson businesses believe if Ancron medical clinic moves to a new location opposite the hospital, it would have no impact on them.
The study, completed by Chris Holland of Nelson’s Juggernaut Marketing Communications, was a requirement set by city council when it recently approved first reading of a zoning amendment.
Although the report was intended to be confidential, it was included on the public agenda for Monday’s council meeting.
Ancron, which presently operates in the Nelson Trading Co. in the 400 block of Baker Street, wants to build a 15,000 square foot facility on three lots across from the hospital emergency room. It would include medical offices, a walk-in clinic, aesthetics clinic, dispensary, and coffee shop.
That requires the property to be rezoned “limited medical,” a new designation that a staff report calls a “very narrowed version” of a mixed commercial and residential zone, restricting the property to uses normally seen in a medical facility.
Some neighbours object to the proposal, but Holland’s report, based on interviews with 37 downtown business owners and 12 Ancron patients last month, found little opposition.
“Based on analysis of the data collected, the beneficial influence of the clinic on businesses in the downtown core is minimal and its proposed move adjacent [to] the Kootenay Lake Hospital will likely have negligible impact on the surrounding downtown core,” he wrote.
A majority of businesses, who with one exception were not named, said they don’t feel the present clinic generates many customers.
“We get no benefit whatsoever — if they are going to move it would be a benefit because we could expand into their space,” one said.
“Although an argument could be made about the increased traffic, I can’t really measure if the clinic is benefitting my business,” said another.
An employee at Pixie Candy added: “I don’t get any business from the clinic, but the dentist offices give me tons of business. People don’t like shopping when they go to the doctor, but they like to celebrate after the dentist and they come here.”
Most businesses predicted little or no effect on them if the clinic moves.
“I can’t really measure how much impact, but I don’t think it will be significant,” one said.
The manager of a pharmacy said if the new clinic has a dispensary, “It won’t hurt my business in a major way, just provide competition and dilute the local market share somewhat.”
Another was enthusiastic about the inclusion of a coffee shop: “That is a much needed business to complement the hospital. About time, too.”
As for patients, many find the current location convenient, although parking is a source of frustration. Some said being closer to the hospital would be a benefit while others disagreed.
“The new location is a pain — but I totally get why they are moving,” said one.
On the whole, the patients indicated the move would make little difference to them.
On Monday, city council passed second reading of the required zoning change and official community plan amendment, despite the continued objections of councillors Donna Macdonald and Robin Cherbo.
Macdonald said the market study didn’t have much effect on her thinking. She said while she can support many aspects of the project, she is “struggling” with the aethestics clinic, seeing it as “much more of a business.”
“I think something like that belongs more in a commercial zone,” she said.
The city is now expected to host an open house on the project in January followed by a formal public hearing. Although no specific dates have been set, council gave staff the go ahead to schedule the meetings.
An open house was previously held in March, but several changes have since been made to the proposal.
(CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story erroneously attributed a comment to the owner of Pixie Candy.)