If the conditional sale goes ahead, the former Zion United Church in Carnarvon will give way to a bakery and cafe, antique store and community meeting space come this fall.

The final piece of the planning puzzle fell into place for Highlands Hills United Church Aug. 13 when the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) gave their blessing to a proposed zoning bylaw amendment.

Algonquin Highlands planner Sean O’Callaghan’s report said, “The MTO is aware of the parking situation and have expressed no concern with the new owners continuing to use the parking area.” There are 15 parking spaces for the building on East Road.

Following a public meeting, the township rezoned the land from community facility exception three to general commercial exception five.

At the meeting, no objections were tabled.

Deputy mayor Liz Danielsen said, “I’m really pleased to see the proposal for this building. I just hate to see churches being sold and then just sitting unused.”

Coun. Jennifer Dailloux said she breathed a sigh of relief at the planned usage.

“I know that in our planning documents, we stress the importance of maintaining the rural nature of our township and keeping that character. And, when I think about little villages across rural Ontario, this is the kind of thing that a lot of rural villages are finding to do with their previous spaces of worship. It’s the little antiques place, it’s the little café, it isn’t become something else. It’s very much in keeping with how Ontario seems to be evolving in its rural spaces where places of worship are coming to an end. And I honestly couldn’t be more delighted. I think that does keep very much in tune with our rural nature and I’m looking forward to visiting the space.”

Mayor Carol Moffatt also paid tribute to the Zion church community.

“I’m glad for the church folks that this portion of their lives is being tidied up. It’s been a long haul for them.”

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