SASKATOON -- Ronald McDonald House Saskatchewan (RMHS) is appealing the City of Saskatoon’s denial of a building permit for an outside deck to expand its indoor dining service.

The centre, located on University Drive, houses out-of-town pediatric patients receiving medical treatment, as well as their families.

According to city documents, the building permit was denied because the addition would not leave the minimum-required front yard space of six metres to the adjacent roadway. In a city assessment, the addition would only leave 4.4 metres of distance.

In a development appeals board hearing on Tuesday, Marcelline Zimmer, director of operations with RMHC, said the addition is RMHC’s effort to provide better service for the 1,500 families that use the facility, increasing physical distance and increasing safety for families who may be immuno-compromised.

“The pandemic has reduced the number of families we’ve served this year,” Zimmer said during the hearing. “The need for food and social interaction in a safe manner has never been more important.”

On Oct. 29, 2020, RMHC applied for federal funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program: COVID-19 Resilience steam, which is providing $3 billion for infrastructure upgrades. Zimmer said RMHC is waiting to hear if its application was accepted.

Zimmer addressed the front-yard deficiency stating that the addition would cover an existing outside deck only, adding the space is only 18 feet long and one storey high.

“We understand the minimum setback, however we are only talking about 1.5-metre deficiency,” Zimmer said.

Catherine Kambeitz, senior planner with the City of Saskatoon said the city felt the minor addition to RMHC would result in “minimal impact” on the block face of Clarence Avenue, adding that an adjacent neighbour wrote a letter to the appeals board supporting the addition.

Andrew Williams, CEO of North Prairie Developments Inc., stated “we see no injurious effect to our property as a result of the applicant’s request.”

“This request would assist in keeping families safe and comfortable during their stay. We ask the board support these requests to help assist the Ronald McDonald House in providing a safe and stress free environment for the families and staff,” he said in his letter of support.

The development appeals board will render a decision within 30 days of the hearing.