The Beach United Church is planning to turn the empty lot adjacent to the church building into a paid parking lot.
It’s a process that could take until 2017, but if everything goes to plan there should be just under 30 new parking spaces in the Beach, parking spaces that will provide the church with revenue and help it continue to offer community programming.
Church financial director Chris Bell said the church had a number of conversations with the congregation as well as with the United Church of Canada, the owners of the empty land, to decide what to do with it. They had the land appraised and considered a partnership with Habitat for Humanity before deciding on a parking lot.
“This is what appeared to be the best option in terms of both revenue and having a purpose,” said Bell, noting the church is going to build it in as green a fashion as possible.
“Permeable pavers, that sort of thing. We did invest in solar panels for the roof, so we are currently producing energy and providing energy back into the grid as a revenue generator for the church,” said Bell. “So the financial sustainability and the environmental sustainability are two of our bigger principles for the church … It’s the same sort of idea here.”
The lot won’t be a city-owned Green P parking lot. It will be owned and operated privately by the church, a decision that the church came to after lengthy conversations with the city – one which requires more of a financial stake.
“The investment is certainly significant for a church of our size, but it’s one we’ve weighed against potential future payment and revenue,” said Bell.
The church has a long road of bureaucracy ahead before what Bell says will be a short construction period.
“Roughly from a time-table standpoint, given the way the city works, we could be into 2017 before we’re allowed to have people parking there and paying for it,” said Bell. “[But] we’re not putting up an 80-storey tower, we’re taking what’s essentially a flat piece of land and paving it, so we hope it’s something we can accelerate. But if you go through the city’s permit application literature … it’s four to six weeks for this step, four to eight weeks for the next step, and you start to add it all up …”
Bell said the response from the neighbourhood and BIA has so far been positive. The church is increasingly being used as a venue for events so more parking will ease some of that pressure on the immediate neighbours.
“We’ve heard qualitatively through neighbours there is a lot of interest and support, and like anything in the Beaches there’s probably a counter-point as well,” he said. “At some point we’ll involve the neighbourhood in (the process).”
Bell said preliminary plans are for 25 to 28 spaces, which would likely include a couple of handicap parking spaces and potentially a car-share element.
“The key for us is we think it’s a win-win-win. Win for the church, win for the environmental use of that space, and a win for the community,” he said. “We’re an organization that’s moving forward and trying new things and this is one of the tools that will allow us to keep trying out new ways of reaching a community though our church.”