As places of worship struggle to fill their seats due to COVID-19 restrictions, the City of Kingston is looking to help.
Since places of worship and small business have been two of the hardest-hit sectors during the coronavirus pandemic, the city is proposing that they team up and recover together.
The plan is a new zoning bylaw that would allow places of worship to sublet their spaces to businesses.
“A number of church properties are fairly significant, they take a lot of money to maintain, and some of them are heritage buildings,” says Paige Agnew, Commissioner of Community Services for the City of Kingston.
“We wanted to look for creative ways to be able to support places of worship to have additional uses, or create small additional revenue streams within the property.”
The city says the partnership between places of worship and businesses will be beneficial to both sides.
For businesses, they say it could help reduce the expenses of starting from the ground up.
As for places of worship, the city says it would bring in extra revenue while also allowing them to interact with the community even further.
“[Places of worship] are largely underutilized for certain portions of the week,” says Laura Flaherty, the city’s Project Manager for Planning Services.
“So there’s certainly an opportunity where complementary uses can be added in those off-hours, where the actual principal place of worship isn’t using that space.”
Places of worship appear to be on board with this plan and are eager to engage with the community and help cover financial costs at the same time.
“I think it’s an excellent opportunity for us churches to partner with businesses to be able to help and care for the needs of the community,” says Phil Carroll, Minister at Kingston Gospel Temple.
“I think it’s a great idea.”
The city is currently in the final stage of implementing this bylaw and is seeking public input.
If all goes according to plan, this new bylaw should be in place in early 2022.
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