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50-year-old Halifax church hall coming down at end of summer, forcing daycare, non-profit to move

St. Mark's Anglican Church in Halifax is pictured. (Source: Sean Mott/CTV News Atlantic) St. Mark's Anglican Church in Halifax is pictured. (Source: Sean Mott/CTV News Atlantic)

A nearly 50-year-old church hall in Halifax is coming down at the end of summer, prompting a daycare and a non-profit organization using the space to find new accommodations.

Daphne Beeler, senior warden at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in the north end of Halifax, confirmed Cosmos Properties, which owns the property, will be tearing down the hall adjacent to the church, likely around the end of August.

“They have no intention to tear down the church proper,” Beeler said. “We have a 50-year renewable lease to operate with them. Both of our tenants are able to stay in the space until the end of the summer.

“Through this process we were in a situation where it almost came to a choice to close completely and that would have likely seen the church demolished completely. The deal means the church will still be there as an historic monument.”

The North End Community Day Care Centre and Ward 5 Neighbourhood Centre operated in the hall. According to their websites, the daycare offers programs and rooms for children between the ages of 18 months and 12 years while Ward 5 has provided “inclusive programs and services” for the last 50 years.

Karen Wright, executive director of the daycare centre, said they’re temporarily relocating to Robie Street while they wait to move to their new permanent spot at St. Joseph’s-Alexander McKay Elementary when it opens in 2025.

“Our expectation is to double our childhood spaces,” Wright said. “Things have lined up and we’re pleased to have signed the lease. This is a feel good story.”

Susan Nordin, program manager with Ward 5, said they can’t say yet where they plan to relocate, but it will be in the north end. They plan to announce a community fundraiser to support the move.

“We want to continue the services we’ve provided to the community,” she said.

Beeler said the St. Mark’s parish was founded in 1866 and officially opened the current church on Russell Street in 1921 after the Halifax Explosion destroyed the original structure in 1917. The hall burnt down in 1974 and it was soon rebuilt.

“We have assurances the hall demolition work won’t impact the church,” she said. “They will do significant renovation to the church for us. We use the hall for fundraisers and receptions and all manner of things, so since we won’t have that space anymore, they are renovating our basement. Going to try to bring it back to a clean slate. We’re taking it as an opportunity to review all the clutter in the building.

“We’re quite excited about the opportunities. We’re really hoping the church can become better used by community organizations. In its current state we can’t really rent the basement. Once it’s renovated we’re hoping we can make it more available.”

Nordin, who has been with Ward 5 for 33 years, said it will be a “sad day” when they have to fully leave the hall at the end of August.

“The amount of people who have been through the organization and the amount of good it’s done is astonishing,” she said.

Beeler noted there were four mainstream churches in the north end before the Halifax explosion; St. Mark’s is now the only one still open.

“We were conscious of being a monument of a post-explosion survival of all those people,” she said. “We didn’t want to leave if we could help it. We really hope it becomes even more part of the community.” 

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