by Lion Bob Porteous
Many people in Winchester and area are wondering why the Lions Thrift Store at 541 St. Lawrence Street has not opened. There are many stumbling blocks that have been encountered and must be completed before it can be opened.
The location was formerly a church; the desire is to now turn it into a Retail Store. The fact that the location is on a street where most properties are zoned “Commercial”, including the church, has nothing to do with the fact the building is changing from a church to a store. Provincial regulations require a “Change of Use” approval.
To get that approval, the building must be examined by certified officials, such as an architect, an engineer, or similar authority. They are required to inspect the building and outline any deficiencies the building may have for the proposed purpose. The conditions, such as building code, fire, and personal safety features, must be met in accordance with provincial regulations. Once the approval authority is satisfied that all requirements are met, they will provide this information to our local (Township) building officials. At this point, the Township can then approve the “Change of Use”. Local government cannot approve a “Change of Use” until the appropriate documentation has been received, or they would be defying Provincial regulations.
The Lions Club was about ready to open the store when the above facts were brought to their attention. Unfortunately, Covid hit about the same time. Little happened for approximately three months. Difficulty was encountered in finding proper Certifying Officials; however, this has been achieved. The certification must now go through the various steps and, because Covid has caused long line-ups for service, each step seems to encounter unavoidable delays.
The Lions Club is prepared to act as soon as they become aware of any, and all, requirements that must be completed prior to opening. The patience and understanding of the peoples of Winchester and surrounding area is appreciated. We hope to be open before Christmas, and we hope to have the public’s continued support.