St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Callander is looking for a new home and has its eye on the funeral chapel on 87 Lansdowne Street.
The building would be ideal, explained Graham Hallett, who spoke on the church’s behalf during Callander’s last council meeting.
Hallett explained to council the church’s plan to accommodate parking at the site, which has been a sticking point for council, and has prevented them from granting the proper zoning to allow the church to move forward.
However, that decision will most likely be made at tonight’s town council meeting. On the agenda is changing the zone at 87 Lansdowne “from a standard general commercial (C1) zone to a general commercial exception zone (C1-5).”
This zone change will “include a place of worship as a permitted use,” the proposed motion reads.
“The current church structure is approaching the end of its functional life,” Hallett explained, and “this has become more acutely apparent recently.”
“It has become necessary to find an alternative accommodation” and 87 Lansdowne Street “is the best solution,” said Hallett.
The building is in a prime location, “only a block away from the present church which allows those who walk to services and events to continue to do so.”
Moreover, the main floor is wheelchair accessible, as are the washrooms, and since the building is currently used as a chapel, “little modification” will be required if the church makes the purchase.
As the parking was an issue with attaining the rezoning— “detrimental to this proposal”—Hallett said, he and the church decided “a partial demolition of the existing structure” would solve the problem.
First, reducing the size of the building reduces the occupancy allowed, which will reduce the amount of parking spaces required by the municipality.
Plus, that extra room created by demolition will allow for a few more parking spots on the property.
Father Kevin McCallister also spoke to council, emphasizing the value the Anglican church brings to the community.
“This is a life-giving request on several different levels,” he said, “not only for the parish but for this town.
"The church provides a unique service to all residents that transcend denominational differences,” he said, adding that the church provides many services, and “the power of outreach cannot be underestimated. We clothe people, we feed people, we counsel those who are in need.
“Our church, like all churches, plays an extremely vital role in the community of Callander,” he emphasized while urging the council to approve the rezoning request.
St. Peter's, built in 1890, is “the oldest church in the community,” Father McCallister said, and moving will allow them “to continue serving the children of God on behalf of the town of Callander.”
Father McCallister also emphasized the importance of hope within the community, adding the church helps foster this sense of hope by helping “people who are in trouble” or less fortunate.
“Now can you imagine for a moment living in a town that is absent of hope? I cannot.”
Allowing the rezoning “will go an extremely long way in order to help build that hope,” he added.
Council will decide whether to rezone the site during this evening’s meeting, which begins at six o’clock.
Update, October 27: Callander’s council decided to defer the decision on the rezoning application during their October 26 meeting. Mayor Rob Noon explained he was in conflict as one of his relatives is a member of the church. This coupled with an absent councillor—"we only had three councillors last night,” said Mayor Noon—”and then without me, that only left two councillors,” so they decided to defer to a future meeting.