Way cleared for Zion sale

The way now appears clear for the sale of Zion United Church in Carnarvon. Bylaws are expected to be passed at the next council meeting to authorize zoning amendments at the site to address reduced lot frontage and lot area.

The land has already been severed, with Algonquin Highlands taking over the cemetery.

There were no objections at a public planning meeting Jan. 16.

Bruce McClennan of Highlands Hills United Church said there have been interested buyers and “I think we’re going to get there fairly shortly.”

He thanked staff and councillors for their help since the church closed in 2019.

“We know it’s been difficult … we’ve been happy to help where we could,” Mayor Carol Moffatt said.

Dorset museum reno on hold for now

Council deferred taking any action on the Dorset Heritage Museum expansion project after tenders came in overbudget.

Chris Card, manager of parks, recreation and trails, tabled a report to advise council of the budget shortfall – and to seek approval for additional funding to award the tender.

Card said the anticipated project cost was $270,000, and they got two bids: one for $393,500 from Quinan Construction Ltd. of Orillia and one for $483,000 from W.F. Rothdeutsch of Bracebridge.

While there is money for the project, including a $150,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) grant, reserves, an estimated surplus from 2019, and $50,000 anticipated in donations – it still leaves a $73,320 shortfall.

Card noted the OTF money must be spent by September 2020. Deputy mayor Liz Danielsen asked if the OTF deadline could be extended if the project was underway by this September. Card said the township can make a written request but it could be either approved or denied.

“We have to have a discussion about where the money is going to come from. It’s too big a bite without plans to recoup it,” Danielsen said. She wondered about a loan to the museum committee to cover the shortfall.

Other councillors asked about the discrepancy, wondering if new elements had been added or if there were “Cadillac” components. Staff said there were not.

Danielson recommended a deferral to council’s next meeting to give staff an opportunity to discuss the situation with the museum committee, and also go to the bidders about their pricing. (Algonquin Highlands news compiled by Lisa Gervais.)

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