St. Paul's Anglican Church has graced the north entrance to Nanaimo's downtown since 1931. Now, there are major plans in store for the largest addition to the building to date.
Archdeacon Brian Evans and volunteer Colin Sheen are spearheading an effort to construct a new church hall onto the historic structure, a $3.3-million venture.
Adding on the new church hall will first mean demolishing the existing church hall, which was added onto the church in the 1950s and remodelled in the 1960s. Council was slated to vote on a staff recommendation to issue a heritage alteration permit at last night's meeting.
According to a report by city heritage and community planner Chris Sholberg, the church is "one of the oldest, continuously functioning Anglican parishes in British Columbia." Built on land provided by the Hudson's Bay Company in 1859, St. Paul's is the third church to be built on the site and is the city's only example of Gothic Revival architecture, the report continues.
The church has $1 million aside for the project, but that leaves $2.3 million that will need to be raised to cover the rest of the cost. The church is planning that phase of the project next.
Evans said rebuilding the church hall is important to provide better access to community space for the public, particularly for people who have physical handicaps. The issue was raised during meetings with the Anglican diocese on Vancouver Island several years ago.
The space is used by about 40,000 people a year, 60 per cent of whom are from outside the church. However, the only way to access the ground-floor area from inside the building is through a set of narrow staircases, which poses a challenge for people with mobility issues.
Limited access to washrooms is also a problem as there are none located on the main level of the building.
Evans said some groups have decided against hosting events there due to the awkward layout.
"The building is part 1930s, part 1950s, part 1960s," said Sheen.
Under the proposed design, the new hall would be two storeys and would have meeting rooms, administration as well as a new kitchen facility.
Historic church facts
Built in 1931.
First service held Jan. 3, 1932.
Constructed for $23,296.
Designed by architect J.C.M. Keith
SOURCE: CITY OF NANAIMO
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