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Nuns make 2nd attempt to establish convent

Jan 25 2017

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – A second attempt by a group of Ontario-based Catholic nuns to establish a convent in Summerside took its first step forward Wednesday night.

A meeting was held at city hall to give the public a chance to comment on the rezoning of 403 Granville St. from high density residential to institutional. The nuns, who are known as the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus of Ragusa, are in negotiations with land developer Pan-American Properties Inc. to build their new convent at that location.

Cain Arsenault, a representative of Pan-American Properties Inc., which is a subsidiary of Charlottetown-based APM, was on hand during the meeting to answer questions from council and the public.

APM decided to get involved with this project after seeing the nuns’ original attempt fail, said Arsenault.

“This is one of the things we do. We have a track record of jumping in and helping people out when we can,” he said.

“We read that headline and said, ‘hey, these people need help, let’s try and help them out.”

Father Christopher Sherren of Summerside’s St. Paul’s Parish said the sisters were happy with the offers of help they received following their initial application’s rejection.

“It was great news for us. We were excited about getting this new offer, and they’ve been very easy to work with so far. And we expect that to continue,” said Sherren.

The nuns originally applied to the city to rezone a property with a small home on South Drive, but council rejected the application following strong opposition from surrounding property owners. They were concerned that if the nuns ever decided to vacate the property it would still be zoned as institutional and potentially used for a purpose less suitable for a largely residential neighbourhood.

There appears to be far less resistance to the nun’s application to rezone on Granville Street.

There were only three members of the public in attendance at the meeting, and none were adamant that the rezoning be rejected.

The biggest concern was from the not-for-profit organization, Community Connections, which has a handful of housing units on an adjacent property. Its representatives wanted clarification regarding where the new convent’s driveway would be and if it would impact the group’s private road leading to the housing units.

Arsenault indicated a willingness to work with the group to assuage its concerns.

The building the nuns are hoping to construct would resemble a large home with space for a handful of full-time and part-time residents, a small in-house chapel and, eventually, a daycare.

Council voted to move the rezoning application to city staff for study and to come back with a recommendation.

Colin.MacLean@Tc.tc

@JournalPMacLean


Media Contact: MediaReleases@apm.ca