Dysart works with owners on parking

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A long vacant building beside the Haliburton Legion is being renovated, with the new owners seeking to turn the rundown spot into an office, gym, and storage facility.

Eleanor Dobbins appeared before Dysart et al council Aug. 22, saying the space would primarily serve as an office for CDH Carpentry. She and partner, Chris, bought the building earlier this year. While they were originally planning to allocate half of the space for storage, they were approached by another local interested in opening a gym at the location.

Dobbins said it would be a fitness gym for adults, with scheduled classes throughout the day. She said classes would take place in the morning, between 6 and 7 a.m., at noon and during the evenings, and can accommodate up to 12 people.

A report compiled by Kris Orsan, Dysart’s manager of planning, states the property doesn’t have the parking spaces required for the proposed use. There are four parking spots in front of the building, facing Mountain Street, and a further three at the rear end of the property. Orsan said he had trouble recognizing the rear spots given they encroach on a neighbouring property.

Orsan said that, to comply with Dysart’s bylaws, the business requires 14 parking spaces.

Dobbins requested the use of spots in the municipal parking lot at A.J. LaRue Arena. Given the property has seven parking spots, the owners would need to lease seven additional spots from the township. The cost to do so is $1,000 per spot, under Dysart’s cash-in-lieu of parking policy.

One additional parking spot could be created at the front of the building, but the space is currently used by the Legion to house a M4A2 Sherman ‘Easy 8’ tank. Dobbins said she has an agreement with the Legion to keep the tank where it is and would like to honour that. She asked if the township would consider waiving the parking fees.

While mayor Murray Fearrey said it would be “tough” for council to waive the fees outright, out of fear of setting a precedent, coun. Barry Boice suggested the township work with Dobbins to come to an agreeable solution.

“These guys shouldn’t be penalized for the spots taken up by the tank. It sounds like they’re trying to accommodate the Legion, so I think we should drop [some of the fees],” Boice said.

Council agreed to waive the fees for three of the spots, leaving Dobbins responsible for leasing four spaces at a cost of $4,000. Jeff Iles, Dysart’s director of planning, said a formalized agreement is needed to allow the Dobbins’ to use the spaces at the arena. Another report will be brought back to council for approval later this year.