SUMMERSIDE – For the first time in 16 years, the Summerside Community Church has a permanent home.
City council gave unanimous approval Monday night, to a zoning change that would allow the church to be housed in the Summerside Industrial Park.
Council approved a request to rezone the former Resolve call centre building from industrial to restricted use, clearing the way for the house of worship.
Rev. Andrew Bryce said work on the building will begin next month.
“We have a design team put in place and in the middle of September that design will begin mobilizing the new plans and we hope to refurbish this building,” he said.
Bryce said the work should take between four to six months to complete.
There has been discussion of including a daycare facility in the building along with space for smaller businesses to generate revenue, but Bryce said those plans are on hold.
“It’s unlikely that we will be having anybody else other than the church at this point in time,” he said. “At the beginning we have to get our feet on the ground and get ourselves established and then we’ll go from there.”
Bryce hopes to see the role of the church expand beyond just being a house of worship.
“We’re looking at it really being a city resource centre,” he said. “It will be more than simply a church. We’re looking at creative ways to partner with the city, perhaps an emergency shelter or other venues. It can be used for conferences. We hope to have a day of hope and leadership in the next year or so. We’re hoping that we can really enhance the industrial park and hoping that our presence there will do that.”
This was the second attempt by the church’s trustees to have the property rezoned.
In June of 2012, council, by a 4-3 vote, denied a request from the church to transform the building into a church.
The vote came as a surprise because the city's technical services committee recommended the request be approved. However, when the issue went before council, some councillors felt that by granting the zoning change, the city would be losing economic development property in the Summerside Industrial Park and the tax revenue that the property would generate - $43,000 annually.
The vote to approve the rezoning was defeated.
Since that time, there has been no interest in the former call centre by any business so council approved the rezoning.
“We’ve been 16 years where we’ve been in four different locations around the city,” Bryce said. “It’s a real delight for whole church of 167 families, about 350 people on Sunday mornings. So, finally to have a home for the next generation is truly a real joy for all of us.”