Biker club presence prompts change in Gander’s zoning rules

Kevin Higgins
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The presence of the Outlaw Motorcycle Club in Gander’s main commercial sector has prompted the town to amend its zoning rules for clubs, lodges and caterers.

At a special council meeting Nov. 12, the town changed zoning classifications for the area from permitted use to discretionary use.

“Basically, what we’ve done is given ourselves more control over an area that might be problematic,” said Deputy Mayor Cyril Abbott.

“The advice we’ve gotten from the police is to ensure our bylaws and procedures are sound … and make sure we’ve got adequate controls in place.”

Abbott said discretionary use zoning “allows council the ability to look at the application specifically and make a determination whether it is something we want in that particular area or not. It also allows that we can put additional restrictions on the application process itself. … That’s where it gives the control.”

This is just the first step in the process, and it will take time for the issue to reach the voting stage at council.

“You can’t just sneak in the backdoor and make changes to existing bylaws,” the deputy mayor said.

Abbott said an amendment will be brought to the council committee level for approval, public consultation will he held and two readings at council meetings are required before it can be put forth for council approval. If approved, the change to the bylaw will not affect current club, lodge or catering business owners.

“The impact such a change can have is on future development and application, it’s not able to get rid of what’s there now,” Abbott said. “But if a current owner wants to move to another location or expand, we will have more control over permitting this or not.

“In particular to (the Outlaw Motorcycle Club), we want them to know quite clear we don’t want them in our community, and this is one way we can do this within the laws and rules of the Municipal Act to protect our town. That’s really what we want to do.”

The Beacon

Organizations: Outlaw Motorcycle Club

Geographic location: Gander

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