The Record has published two stories recently concerning the Schippling’s Bicycle Service store on Duke Street West. It has been closed for over a year after its owner, John Burhatsky, became ill and passed away at 92. This store is certainly a landmark in the area. My wife and I bought our son a bike there years ago and I still use my Norco saddlebags I bought from John. This recent article brings the good news that Braun bicycle has purchased the Schippling name and inventory. So some of the history will be preserved.
It is still not clear what will happen to the building. According to this earlier article, the area is now zoned residential (since 1994) so it can only be sold as a residence or a business with a bike shop. We already have Brauns and Ziggys in downtown Kitchener, so it is unlikely another bike shop will open there. The building is unsuitable as a residence in its present condition. From a neighbourhood perspective, it would seem to make most sense for another small business to open there with an opportunity for an apartment or two. This would need some kind of zoning variance and the earlier article discusses how getting any variance is problematic.
It now seems likely that with the name and inventory sold, the building itself could be sold to a developer who could renovate or level it altogether and build apartments.
I think this shows it is tricky to use zoning regulations to build a neighbourhood the way we want. Without the regulations, a small business could have more easily continued in the building and the area could have kept a building with a lot of history and nice memories. On the other hand, it could have been bought by a business we did not like who might have erected a garish sign. It is difficult to enforce taste and restraint.
Whatever happens I hope the existing building can be preserved. Whenever I drive, walk or cycle past I think of John Burhatsky sitting in the store dispensing advice and fixing a flat tire or two.
The MHBPNA had our annual meeting on October 28th at the Breithaupt Centre. Three very important things happened:
1) Architect John MacDonald discussed how we might use the free cultural assessment we won at the Festival of Neighbourhoods in 2008. Several ideas were discussed and after researching some options we will meet again.
2) We elected an executive for the next year. President: Trudy Beaulne, Secretary: Laurie Donaldson, Co-Treasurers: Helen Lippert and Joan Lazarski, Communications Director: Ted Parkinson. We still have openings for Programs Director, Special Events Director and Partnerships Director. Please send us an email if you are interested. Descriptions for all positions can be found in our constitution.
3) We passed our constitution! The full text of our constitution has been uploaded to the MHBPNA Website. Click here to view it. We spent several meetings developing the constitution and modeled it on those used by other Kitchener neighbourhood associations. We believe it is clear, easy to understand and will provide a solid structure for our future initiatives.