Lacombe hub for the arts on its way
The Trinity Lutheran Church has now been rezoned to Community Services District (CS) to allow for theatrical performances. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)
The Trinity Lutheran Church is now rezoned for the arts.
At their regular meeting on Monday, Lacombe city council gave approval to rezone the church from Residential Detached District (R1) to Community Services District (CS), which allows for performing arts functions to be held at the facility.
The Lacombe Performing Arts Centre Foundation, who applied for the rezone with the church, couldn’t be more thrilled with the outcome.
“We’re really excited. Now we can take all that planning and thinking and make it a reality,” said President Grant Harder. “We’re really looking forward to getting things going and ready and looking forward to an opening show.”
The partnership between the performing arts foundation and the Trinity Lutheran Church came by way of the church opening themselves up to host a non-profit entity. Through their members, they came in touch with the performing arts foundation and have been working on the possibility of using the space for the arts since last August.
In speaking with the Globe previously, Harder said the church provides them with acoustics other facilities, like the Lacombe Memorial Centre, can’t offer. As well, it has a vestibule and common area for people to socialize before a show, among spaces to potentially host art classes and smaller exhibitions.
Many current and former members of the community voiced their support for the project through letters that were read aloud during a public hearing, including Nicole Fauria of Mother Goose Playschool, members of the Lacombe Arts Guild, and award-winning author Laurel Deedrick-Mayne.
“It’s wonderful to see that,” said Harder. “We knew all along that there was tremendous support in the community, but to have them put it in writing and give us something to take to council was exceptional.”
While there was substantial support from members of the community for the project, there were some concerns about it as well. A few residents from the surrounding central Lacombe area questioned parking at the location, as well as bylaw enforcement when it came to noise levels and snow removal.
Nothing has been brought forward formally, but both Mayor Grant Creasey and Coun. Thalia Hibbs said changes would be coming on the bylaw enforcement front.
As for parking, council may choose to ask the church provide additional parking in the future for events, but for a place of worship, one parking space is required per four seats. With the church having a seating capacity of 150 people, it must have about 40 stalls. For recreation and culture purposes, how much parking is required is up to the development authority – in this case, the city. However, parking concerns are better addressed through an occupancy process than the rezoning of the church land.
There will be some work to be done regardless before the facility can truly become a home for the arts.
Harder says there’s some minor renovations to do, as well as working out the details of the partnership and use of the building with the church.
“We’re looking forward to doing some programming, see what shows are available we can bring in and what kind of entertainment we can bring to Lacombe,” he said.
Although the Trinity Lutheran Church will serve as a hub for the arts for the foreseeable future, the performing arts foundation is by no means axing the plans for the Cranna Community Cultural Centre.
At present, they’re well aware there’s more pressing fiscal matters in the city, including the need for a new civic building, but eventually they want to see a dedicated space for the arts make it on to the capital plan.
“In the long term we’d like to see a large capacity theatre for Lacombe. We know the demand is there, but what this gives us is an excellent stepping stone,” he said.
Ed Koberstein, chairperson of the Trinity Lutheran Church, said it was a good step forward.
“We’re looking forward to working with the performing arts council,” he said. “It’s going to be a change for us and for them, but we welcome them as a home for performing arts.”