The Salvation Army is proposing to relocate its retail store to the former site of the adult learning centre on Huntsville’s Centre Street North.
“The adult learning centre has closed down and as a result the space on Centre Street has become vacant. The Salvation Army has been looking for a considerable time for a location that is closer to town and more affordable,” John Gallagher, planner for the applicants, told Huntsville’s planning committee at its September 11 meeting.
Gallagher said the Salvation Army had approached planning staff at the municipality and were told a retail use was not permitted under the current zoning.
“There had been retail uses in the past on that property. There was a market there at one time, prior to the adult education centre occurring. There’s other retail uses in the area,” he argued. “Committee has approved a new Official Plan that allows retail uses in mixed commercial areas. In that regard, this is a timing issue so when council sometimes makes decisions that may be contrary to staff’s opinion, I’m sure if you ask staff the day after the assent of the new Official Plan is made, they would say that the application conforms.”
Gallagher also added that it can take at least a year to update a comprehensive zoning bylaw in order to implement a new Official Plan.
“My clients want to move forward with their new location. There’s ample parking on the site… this allows for jobs and retail growth and fills up an empty spot on Centre Street,” said Gallagher.
Salvation Army major Darren Wiseman also spoke to committee.
“One of the main reasons that we’re here is that we’re here to help people,” said Wiseman. “Right now we’re in a position where financially the place that we’re in right now is costing us so much money that it’s making it hard financially for us to continue on.”
Wiseman said the search has been ongoing for close to two years, and the former adult learning centre has been the best option. He said relocating to that site would save the Salvation Army close to $100,000 per year. “That’s a lot of money and the money that we raise at our thrift store goes back into our community in different ways. And so we want to be good stewards of what we’ve been given and this is just one way that we have of making sure that the money that’s given to us, money that we raise through all the donations that we get goes back into our community.”
Wiseman said the location is more accessible for those dropping off donations as well as those using the service.
Committee voted in favour of the zoning change. The recommendation is expected to be ratified by Huntsville Council when it meets on September 23, 2019.
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