The Bark Lake Leadership and Conference Centre is progressing on plans to rebuild its recreation centre which burned down in 2016.

Highlands East council approved a new zoning bylaw for the property Aug. 13. The bylaw changes the zoning for the area which once housed the recreation centre to allow the rebuild to proceed.

Municipal planner Chris Jones said after an appeal period, a site plan should come before council in September. If council approves that, the centre can apply for a development permit.

“All indications are they should be able to get going on this in the fall,” Jones said.

The recreation centre burned down along with a museum structure on June 29, 2016, causing more than $1 million in damages. The area has gone undeveloped since then but the centre announced Oct. 31, 2018, that they would rebuild.

“The new building, overlooking Bark Lake, will be a multi-use, energy-efficient building. We expect to have it completed by the end of 2019,” the centre said on its Facebook page.

The centre’s general manager Pat Harley said “We thank the Highlands East council for their foresight in approving the re-zoning application.”

In a report at the July 23 council meeting, Jones said the lands at the centre were previously zoned limitedservice residential. That was to accommodate a potential recreational development with cottage lots and several communal facilities.

“However, the transitional development proposed for Bark Lake has recently evolved and the owner is now proposing to revise the draft approval to accommodate a mixed-use concept that would maintain some elements of the leadership centre while also developing lands for recreational cottage developments,” Jones said in the report.

The new bylaw changes the zoning of the centre and a neighbouring parcel to a tourist commercial exception zone.

The proposed new building would have a ground floor area of 6,598 square feet. The zoning bylaw also allows for auxiliary structures such as a storage building, bathroom facility, one tuck stop and two staff accommodation buildings. Parking will also be added with the building, Jones said. T

The bylaw said the rebuilt structure will be used for administration, programming and activities of the Bark Lake Leadership Centre. It may also be used for banquets, retreats and other special events.

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