$12.8-million facelift begins
Partway through the Easter Sunday service at Kamloops United Church, the entire congregation got up and left the sanctuary. They won’t return until this fall.
Instead, worship is moving to another building on the grounds as the first phase of the downtown church’s $12.8 million redevelopment begins.
“The mood was just bordering on giddiness,” said Jennifer Keim, co-chair of the church’s redevelopment committee.
“Our congregation has really spent a lot of time thinking about this project, working on this project, and we’ve really done it together.
“Everyone is a piece of this project and I think they really felt that sense of ownership on Sunday when we said, ‘OK, that’s it, we’re moving.’”
This Saturday (April 14), the church will celebrate the start of construction with an official ceremony at 10:30 a.m. at Fourth Avenue and St. Paul Street.
The first phase of construction will see the current sanctuary and its basement expanded to create preschool and meeting-room space, a new hall and kitchen, along with a new street-level entrance to the church.
Keim expects the work will be completed around November.
Following that, the church plans to demolish its interim meeting space and get to work on a 61-unit affordable housing complex it is building with B.C. Housing.
Keim said the design for the complex is close to completion and the public should get a first look at the plans for the units this summer.
Plans for the building will also go to the city, which needs to rezone the property.
Originally envisioned as a retrofit of the 60-year-old Christian Education Centre on the church’s grounds, Keim described the seven years of planning it took to get the project to construction as “a long labour of love.
“Everybody’s just really, really excited that this is it — we’re doing it, it’s going to be done one way or another.”
Kamloops United Church will also roll out a community fundraising campaign for the project, most likely in May.
“Some of the space we’re building in the new building, particularly around addictions support, the new kitchen, lends itself to either groups or individuals that want to really support that very important community work,” Keim said.
The congregation has raised $900,000 and the church picked up another $80,000 for new kitchen equipment from the Aviva Community Fund in January.