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Transit Hotel smokehouse owner fights city for permitting nightmare

Permitting problems with the City of Edmonton have created a nightmare in opening the newly renovated Transit Smokehouse and BBQ, a co-owner of the business says.

“We’ve had a number of issues with the permit department related to the ventilation to our smoker,” David Egan said, despite city assurances that staff are doing their job appropriately.

The former Transit Hotel, which closed down in 2017 after being open for almost 109 years, was leased by Egan and his partner who turned it into a restaurant.

“We had to apply for our business license because we couldn’t apply for any of our permits until we were able to get our business license and that took a couple of months. So by the time we open up it will have been about a year,” said Egan.

After getting the license, the business then needed to apply for a building permit, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) permit, and get engineering-stamped drawings for the smoker.

Egan reported that after he spoke with the city in regard to their HVAC permit and were given recommendations, he was then asked went to submit the drawings, whereby he was met with a different employee who gave them a whole new set of recommendations, requiring a new drawing for the permit.

“It’s been tough, so the fact that they asked for a second set of engineering drawings is quite involved. Even in the best of times, it can take a couple of weeks but right now a lot of these engineering firms are very delayed,” said Egan. The last set of drawings cost a hefty $3,000. Once they get the second set of drawings approved, they can have the city inspect the building and the HVAC.

Egan hopes to open the restaurant as soon as possible when that's complete. In a memo to TBT, Egan stated the following: "We feel that particularly in these trying times where many Edmonton businesses have been forced to close their doors, the government shouldn't be creating more hurdles mid-project, including changing their requirements after earlier giving different ones, and providing little direction about how to meet them.

From the point where we started our renovations and submitted our first application to the city, approx. 1 year will have elapsed, when this whole process can occur in a number of weeks in surrounding counties."

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