Church seeks new home in former gym
By Chad Ingram
Published April 11, 2017
Haliburton’s Lighthouse Pentecostal Church has plans to move its congregation from its building in the village’s core to the former home of Millennium Fitness on Harmony Road.
Some residents of Harmony Road expressed concern about the move, for which the church is seeking a zoning change from the Municipality of Dysart et al, during a public planning meeting on April 3.
The property is currently zoned Rural Residential and Environmental Protection and the church is requesting a zoning of Residential Type 1 Exception and Environmental Protection.
The church has a conditional offer in on the property. One of the conditions is the sale of its building on Dysart Avenue and another is the granting of the requested zoning change.
No additional buildings are planned for the property, but there would be some expansion of the parking lot to comply with parking space regulations. The church’s pastor would live in the residential section of the building and the former gymnasium area would become the church.
“The congregation currently numbers about 50, which includes both adults and children,” Jamie McMahon told attendees of the public meeting. “We’re a small church.”
McMahon said there would be 20 to 25 cars at the church for a typical Sunday service. A staff report shows that five to six cars would typically be there on Tuesday mornings, the same number of vehicles on Wednesday evenings and seven to 10 vehicles on Friday evenings.
The church hosts few funerals or weddings.
“First of all, I’m not in favour of any increased traffic,” said one Harmony Road resident. “I already think there’s too much traffic in and out of Harmony Road as it is. Once the zoning is changed, it’ll be next to impossible to change it back.”
Dysart director of planning and development Patricia Martin was asked how it was that a gym had been allowed to exist in a residentially zoned area.
“It permitted a home industry, and that’s what the gym was,” Martin said.
Concerns were expressed about snow plowing, where that snow would be stored and what implications there might be in terms of runoff, and also lighting.
While the church is having a site plan prepared, it was not ready in time for last week’s meeting and residents requested a deferral until a site plan is available.
“You are asking us to ask questions,” said one resident. “How do I know the questions I want to ask?”
“We did come into tonight knowing we didn’t have all the information,” said Dysart et al Deputy-reeve and planning committee chairwoman Andrea Roberts.
Roberts said she also had questions around parking, lighting, storm water management, etc.
Roberts noted that when the gym was in operation, “that was continuous traffic, all day long.”
“No one is in a rush to push anything through,” Roberts said. “It could take two or three more meetings.”
“Our intention isn’t to hide anything from you guys,” McMahon told the room.
The issue was deferred to a public meeting on Monday, May 1 at 5 p.m. at Dysart council chambers.