Stan Schalk’s prayers have been answered.
Efforts by the Potter’s Hand Ministries pastor to conduct Sunday morning church services in a downtown building received the blessing of Red Deer’s municipal planning commission on Wednesday — after a bit of a delay.
Berry Architecture & Associates had applied to the city on behalf of Schalk for authorization to operate a place of worship at 5202 53rd Ave.
Schalk is an owner of the building, which dates back to 1959 and was last used by the former Robco Cabinets.
The commission considered the application on Jan. 25 and voted to table the matter so that feedback could be obtained from the Greater Downtown Action Plan Steering Committee.
Although Schalk was only seeking to conduct church services in the premises for three years, members of the commission were concerned that this would be inconsistent with the distinctive urban neighbourhood theme proposed for the Railyards district, where the building is located.
On Wednesday, the commission heard that the Greater Downtown Action Plan Steering Committee does not support Schalk’s plans because they don’t reflect the long-term vision and intent of the Greater Downtown Action Plan.
However, the commission decided to allow the building to be used for worship on Sunday mornings for a three-year period.
Mayor Morris Flewwelling said after the meeting that a church may not fit the long-term plan for the district but could still be suitable in the short term.
To that end, the commission stipulated that the issue be reviewed after 2 1/2 years, and that continued operation of the church beyond three years require a new application to, and approval by, the commission at that time.
Flewwelling noted that significant renovations are planned for the building, which will delay its availability for worship by about six months.
“Although it’s going to cover a three-year period, it’ll only be 2 1/2 years of actual use.”
The commission also voted to grant a relaxation of the number of parking stalls required for the site — to 11 from 67.
That reflected the fact that several nearby property owners have agreed to provide Sunday parking for members of the Potter’s Hand Ministries congregation.
Potter’s Hand Ministries has been conducting services in the former Buffalo Hotel, which is now a low-income housing complex.
Shalk said previously that about 150 people worship there, which has necessitated a move to bigger space.
Potter’s Hand Ministries also operates a soup kitchen downtown.