St. Paul’s to receive new roof, major renovations

NANAIMO – Church looking to expand community outreach abilities, improve access.

A hazmat suit-clad ProPacific Restoration worker stretches to tear away 80-year-old shingles containing asbestos from the roof of St. Paul’s Anglican Church Wednesday morning. The work

A hazmat suit-clad ProPacific Restoration worker stretches to tear away 80-year-old shingles containing asbestos from the roof of St. Paul’s Anglican Church Wednesday morning. The work

Archdeacon Brian Evans wasn’t fooled this week when he looked up and saw a number of figures dressed in white on the roof of St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

They weren’t angels, they were ProPacific Restoration employees dressed in hazmat suits assessing the 80-year-old roof to prepare it for replacement.

It is likely the inert asbestos firmly embedded within the shingles preserved the roof for this long, but with the necessary roof replacement comes the challenge of disposing of the asbestos properly.

The roof replacement is just one of several capital restoration projects the church has planned.

In all, an estimated $3.3 million will be required to add seismic upgrades, install fire suppression sprinklers and completely renovate the entire hall and make it wheelchair accessible and, Evans said, to expand the ministry’s outreach ability.

The new roof and disposal of asbestos is estimated to cost $350,000.

“Our parish performs significant outreach in the community, including providing a facility for many organizations like arts and culture groups,” said Evans.

“We realize our space to do that is limited, and the accessibility is not ideal for all people.”

A year-long information gathering project revealed that of the estimated 37,000 people who have been through the church over the last year, 48 per cent used it for church functions while 52 per cent used it for community functions.

Les Annesley, co-chairman of the capital campaign for the church’s building committee, said a feasibility study will be completed by the end of October to determine if the local appetite is large enough to warrant the project.

“That will tell us if this is really possible,” said Annesley. “We’ll have all of the exploration work done and find out if the community is behind us. This is, for us, a massive project.”

St. Paul’s currently has $1.1 million in its coffers to pay for the project. Annesley said the $2.2-million balance will be sought from organizations, donors and government grants.

The roof, however, is already moving ahead and should be completed by the end of August. Annesley added there were long discussions on how to approach the asbestos component, and in the end the committee decided to take the more expensive and responsible approach.

“It was talked about that maybe we could just put a roof over top of the old one and not face the challenge, which would have been great and cost us much less,” he said. “Our feeling as a building committee, we felt this is something we’re going to pass on to future generations and we’ve got to do the job right. Let’s address it and face the music.”

Replacement shingles will be a cement fibre product imported from Europe in an effort to retain the historical aspect and appearance of the church, which is on the city’s heritage register.

St. Paul’s celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2011.

The property tucked between Church and Chapel streets was donated by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1859, and the original congregation began in 1861.

Evans said the church’s footprint will not change, but the hall’s interior will undergo extensive renovations.

“It’s important to note that worship will continue as usual on Sundays during the changes,” he said.

If the feasibility study provides the go-ahead and fundraising is successful, work on the hall could begin in about a year.

Annesley said the finished product will be a benefit for worshippers and the general community.