What seems like an interminable wait for some members of the Trinity United Church congregation is finally coming to a conclusion.
The rebuilding of the portion that burned down on September 22, 2015, should begin next spring, rebuilding committee member Arnold de Boon said on Thursday. Drawings were to be discussed with the congregation last Sunday.
De Boon said two factors—settling the contents claim and dealing with asbestos contaminants in the old construction—conspired to extend the process.
“Those things put us much further behind than we’d hoped,” he said. “But we couldn’t get to the full concept drawing stage until the issues were settled.”
Some preliminary work was done out of need. Mold growing in the basement of the burned portion required the subfloor to be torn out.
Fortunately, de Boon said, the church’s insurance company hired local architect Christine Ross to do the building design. She was able to do some assessments in the spring and concept drawings “have been going back and forth with the congregation,” he said.
Changes made several years ago out of financial necessity will be kept in the new construction. Worship services will be held in the new building, which will continue to double as the church hall. The attached A-frame building, once the worship area, will be restored to its use as a thrift store, Trinity Treasures, which has been unable to operate since the fire.
Committee member Linda Price said every effort has been made to save items for reuse.
“One neat thing is when they were demolishing the burnt structure they were able life the grand piano out with a crane,” she said. “It did have some water damage but it had a good cover and it is now okay for use. It is exciting that they could save it for us!”
“We did salvage more than people know—there will be lots that people will be pleased to learn has been saved,” de Boon added.
Price spoke of the coincidence of the fire’s timing. Only two days before the roof caught fire, Reverend Paula Ashby had been hired to shepherd the Trinity United flock. And only weeks earlier the Creston Fire Department had taken delivery of a ladder truck, which helped save the A-frame as well as nearby buildings, including the neighbouring Catalpa Lodge.
“And the community has been so good to us,” she said. A rental space was secured on 10th Avenue North, the Seniors Hall has been used for Wednesday lunches, and temporary meeting spaces have been found elsewhere.
We have had great support from Gleaners,” Price added. “Without their help we couldn’t have continued with the lunches.”
A bonus is that the new construction will be handicapable, with the hall and A-frame sharing the same level. The new portion will also be more energy efficient, de Boon said. He estimates the construction will take about eight months.
Price said the congregation’s spirits have remained high, and that they have been further bolstered by a surprise donation.
Ron Klusmeier, a United Church member and social activist, was in Creston recently where he made a presentation about a charity to a very small audience. When he learned about the fire and need for reconstruction, he donated 1,000 copies of his Christmas music CD, Christmas Eve: Carols for Meditation.
“His compositions can be found in many hymnals,” she said of the Parksville resident. “He is a very accomplished musician and composer.”
The Trinity United Church congregation is now selling those CDs for $15 each, of which $10 goes to the local church and $5 is donated to the Creston Refugee Committee. The CDs make excellent, and very inexpensive, Christmas gifts, Price pointed out.