Council amends bylaw, restricting overnight stays at ministry-owned building

Amanda Jess
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TRENTON – Canaan Land Ministries will not be able to open a one-year Bible training centre, following a vote by council on Tuesday night.

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Council unanimously voted in favour of amending the land use bylaw in the Main Street Commercial Zone during the second reading on Tuesday, meaning buildings in that section are not able to run dormitories or other overnight accommodations.

“We’ve listened to the concerns of the residents,” Mayor Glen MacKinnon said following the vote.

Canaan Land Ministries, an Alabama-based organization, had planned to have four male students and a supervisor stay in the building on Pleasant Street. During their stay, they would be under a strict regimen. The idea of the program is to help men turn their lives around through faith.

Daybreak Prison Ministries owns the building, and can still use it for another purpose.

Residents voiced several concerns including safety, discrimination, and property values in the town at two public meetings.

“When you ask for the opinions, you should expect to get the opinion,” MacKinnon said after the meeting, explaining he was appreciative that residents told him and other councillors their thoughts.

He said it was clear after the second meeting what the public wanted and, as councillors, they’re there to respect that.

“It’s their town.”

Elizabeth Robson was one of the first to oppose the building’s intended use, she said at the end of the meeting.

“I’d like to thank you. It makes me feel better to know it’s not going to happen.”

Gerard Veldhoven also spoke following the decision, stating that he was happy with the results.

He expressed in a column and a letter to the editor in The News that he was worried about the fact that the Canaan Land doesn’t accept homosexual men into its program, calling it a “huge step back for equal treatment for the LGBT community in Pictou County and beyond.”

Joshua Gober, the intended director of the program, said the reasoning behind their screening is due to a lack of specialization in certain areas.

On Twitter: @NGNewsAmanda 

Geographic location: Pleasant Street, Canaan Land, Pictou County

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