Fit Learn gets first-step approval for new expansion

At the recent Committee of Adjustment meeting on Monday, June 21st, an application was made to allow for a minor variance to expand a recently new business in Southampton.

Fit Learn Strength and Conditioning gym and fitness centre opened on Albert Street South in Southampton, in what was formerly known as the Shular garage, a property that had been vacant for several years. The application for a minor variance requested that the maximum front yard setback be increased from 1.22 metres to 9.75 metres to accommodate a new addition.


The addition would provide an expansion to the building as COVID restrictions had forced the fitness classes to move outside and the membership had reached capacity for the existing building.  Planner, Barbara Mugabe, told the Committee that, if the variance was approved, facade design, landscaping and parking issues would be addressed at site-plan time.

As with most fitness classes today, they are often accompanied by music to enhance the workout experience.  With the application submission and public notice to surrounding residents, Mugabe said that complaints had been submitted by neighbours about the music being too loud and also containing offensive language that is “not acceptable in our diverse society”.

Patricia Campbell, a business owner, land owner and shift worker who lives across the street from the Fit Learn gym, said that the music often disrupts her sleep and enjoyment of quiet. “I understand you want to provide the best experience possible but it’s very stressful.  It’s not the gym, it is the noise that is extreme.  I have lived here for 30 years and never experienced this level of noise to the point that I had to call the police and local By-law.”

Saugeen Shores noise By-law does not apply to commercial businesses during the day but only at night when unacceptable levels cannot continue beyond 11:00 p.m.

Committee of Adjustment member, Liz Kuntz asked if it was the job of the committee to do anything about noise complaints and what could be done.

Jay Pausner, Saugeen Shores Supervisor Economic Development, explained that the task of the Committee is to only consider the front yard set-back minor variance under application.  “The Town does have control over noise By-law however but that would be amended at the Council level.”

The commercial property also includes five residential apartments, one above the former garage and four others immediately behind the building, along with a separate building that was formerly an artist’s studio.

As with many small businesses during COVID-19, including fitness centres,  business has been at a standstill for more than a year due to Public Health lockdowns and government restrictions.

 Owner and instructor, Cole Learn

Cole Learn, owner of the gym and fitness coach, said that the last thing he wanted to do was to upset neighbours.  “I have had conversations with the neighbours and have taken multiple steps to mitigate the problem of noise. Gym members have been asked to bring headphones to the morning classes and coaches have been told to monitor the music that it is to be ‘clean’ with no offensive language. Also, I have given out my phone number so that I can personally and immediately deal with complaints.”

“Unfortunately, we’ve been pushed out(side) by the government so that we have been forced to hold classes outside and our hands have kind of been tied behind our backs in that regard.  The addition however, is being designed to provide more space and it will be insulated with spray foam to help keep the noise to a minimum.  We love this community and just want to do good things for it,” added Learn.

       Weather permitting, fitness classes are held outside – for larger view, Click on Image

There are four tests that an application must meet for a minor variance.  According to planner, Mugabe, the expansion of the gym facility meets all four tests, meets the required development of use for the land and that there would be no adverse impacts on the surrounding environment.

The recommendation to approve the minor variance was carried in a 3 to 1 vote, with member Olivia Barwell in opposition.