Former Sacred Heart Church in Sydney gets new lease on life
SYDNEY, N.S. -- A church in Sydney that's more than a century old could have a new lease on life after the pandemic.
Cape Breton Regional Council has given the green light to a developer who has plans to turn the place into something special.
To look inside the former Sacred Heart Church today, you would never know the building is more than 130 years old or that it's been closed for the better part of a decade.
"It's a ballroom," said Kevin Colford. "It's something out of Walt Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and that's what they love."
That's one of the visions Colford has for the old church, which closed in 2014.
Over the past two years, Colford has given the interior a brand new look.
"The building needed very little," Colford said. "Just some esthetic changes to complement it. And in my heart was always to complement that 1800s look."
He has a few plans to take people back in time inside these walls.
One of his intentions is to hold weddings here, with the perfect dance floor for a reception.
He's also prepping it as a venue for a night out of fine dining and dancing, as well as concerts.
He's even thinking about hosting dinner theatre here.
"People say roll out the red carpet to the entertainers, and those of Hollywood," Colford said. "I roll my red carpet out to the people of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia."
Cyril MacDonald is among those who voted to approve the project in Tuesday night's meeting of Cape Breton Regional Council.
"I think our downtown is in, I'll say dire straits, of some development," MacDonald said.
He says it could lead to some spinoffs.
"Perhaps you're going downtown afterwards for something to eat," MacDonald said. "I think it creates a bit of a hub. Perhaps people will come from a bit further away, and they'll decide to even spend a night downtown."
The church's rebirth has been delayed, of course, by COVID-19, but Colford says he's getting plenty of interest, including some he says have already booked weddings here.
If gathering restrictions are loosened, he hopes to open in a limited capacity this spring.
"This May, if things should change from 100 to 200, I believe we could be in business," Colford said.
The project still needs approval from the province, but he already has big plans for when things are in full swing.
"We'll get the Gordie Sampson concerts, the Ashley MacIsaacs, we'll get the J.P. Cormiers," Colford said.
For a building that already boasts such a rich history, it could be adding some more if things work out as planned.