Cornerstone pastor Kevin Bayne says the church’s congregation is growing. EVAN LOREE Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

While other churches are closing doors, Cornerstone Community Church is looking to open a few more.

The town is reviewing applications from the church to add a new gym, classrooms and play area to its property at Hunter Road. 

It is also considering applications to change the zoning and property lines at its location on Niagara Stone Road.

At a town meeting Tuesday night, Cornerstone pastor Kevin Bayne told council the Niagara Stone property would continue to be a community space for the benefit of the town.

“As a church, we exist not for ourselves, but to help build a great community for us all,” he told council.

However, the current lot includes a house and garage that Bayne would like to sever from the rest of the property.

He said the goal is to use the money earned from selling this parcel of land to fund the church’s activities and help with the cost of renovation and expansion at Cornerstone’s Hunter Road location.

If the applications are approved, the lot on Niagara Stone will be cut into two parts. The portion occupied by the church will be rezoned to reflect the community use of the building, and the other will be rezoned for residential use.

“We’ve been blessed with what’s really solid leadership,” Bayne told The Lake Report. 

He says the congregation is steadily growing even as other churches are closing down, like the now-defunct Christ Church McNab. 

“We’ve kind of steadily grown for the last 15 years or so,” he said. They adopted another congregation in 2018 when they first acquired the property at Hunter Road.

Cornerstone Community Church is part of a larger denominational sect of Christianity called Mennonite Brethren.

Bayne estimates between 400 to 450 people attend the church’s Sunday service at Hunter Road each week. 

Bayne also thinks the congregation is growing because whenever new residents go looking for a new church, they “find us to be a welcoming community.”

Bayne said the classrooms and children’s areas will be used to support some of the children’s programming they run on Sundays, but the new gym will be multipurpose.

“We’ve been really happy to be the home of Red Roof Retreat’s day programming,” he said.

But the space they provide to the charity is insufficient, and the expansion will help fix that. 

He also pointed out the church runs a summer camp program and the addition of a gym would help to support the campers as well.

Susan Smyth, a senior planner from Quartek Group, presented the church’s plans to town staff and residents in a short open house on June 6. 

Resident Richard Guay, who lives nearby, said he wanted to know how the additional parking spaces in the plan would impact his property. 

His questions were satisfied after Smyth said they would plant trees along the property line to screen the neighbouring properties from the parking lot.

Smyth needs the town to relax restrictions imposed by existing bylaws on the property before the additions can be built though.

In her presentation at the open house, Smyth said the proposed addition would increase building coverage on the lot by 5.9 per cent for a total of 12.2 per cent.

The proposed parking expansion would increase the lot coverage by parking spaces to 35 per cent.

The existing bylaws cap the allowable parking spaces at 30 per cent of the lot, meaning the proposed changes would exceed the law by 5 per cent.

Smyth said the additional parking would be useful to the agricultural community which tends to drive larger vehicles like pick-up trucks.

The same bylaw also caps the maximum floor area at 2,800 square metres, but the changes would bump that up to 3,940. 

Council will review the application from Quartek on July 11 in a public meeting.

By Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 15, 2023 at 08:13

This item reprinted with permission from   The Lake Report   Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
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