My name is Kevin Colford. I was born in Whitney Pier and now reside in South Bar. I have built and renovated buildings my entire life. Some of you may know me from the work I’ve done transforming and restoring the former St. Andrew’s Church into the now home of the Highland Arts Theatre and it’s Society. In 2018, I purchased the former Sacred Heart Church with the intention to create a new event space and music venue in the heart of downtown Sydney. Since then I have restored and emphasized the incredible architecture of the building into a truly opulent space that stands to become a gem in the place we call home. My dream and goal is to have a multifunctional space that can provide service and support to wedding ceremonies, celebrations of all kinds, dinner theatres, and even dinner/dances like those of days gone by with bands headlining an evening including great local food and local entertainment. Not only will this create jobs for the staff of the building, it will create more opportunity for the local businesses and artists we collaborate with. In a city where many “nights out” require a business that takes money out of our city, province or even country, this venue is a way to not only keep that money circulating here, but potentially draw in interest from off island and bring more commerce to our economy.
In terms of our community, I don’t believe we currently have a space available that is as beautiful as this. The space provides and exudes a presence full of heart and beauty that matches that of our island and its people. Aside from its historical and personal connection to our citizens, it is a space people will walk into and feel taken care of. Our weddings can match the majesty of the deeper meaning that day represents. Our entertainment can provide a safe space where people are encouraged and free to enjoy each other’s company and celebrate loved ones. Memories are perhaps the greatest treasures we hold in our lives, and we have every intention to support and elevate each and every memory built in our space.
For two years now, I have been in regular contact with the city planning and have taken the appropriate steps in submitting and paying for any applications needed to have the purpose of the building adjusted. Before it can be approved, there is a dispute surrounding the issue of parking that I am seeking to resolve. provincial registered historic buildings have, for years now, been exempted from certain development requirements in Sydney to support developers in finding new ways to keep said historic buildings standing and in use; simultaneously preserving their original look and setting on the property. While the former Sacred Heart Church is recognized as a CBRM registered historic building, it is not granted the same advantages and support to those seeking to extend and preserve it’s legacy. Where as buildings recognized by the province are. I have submitted for the provincial status, unfortunately I applied a few weeks before the current pandemic hit which has greatly slowed processing to this day. In the meantime, it has felt more and more odd that the buildings our own community has recognized as historic, and important, are not granted the same benefits as the buildings an office in Halifax has approved. Especially given that the law in question is municipal, not provincial. For these reasons, I have asked our community leaders in council to make an amendment to our current law so that the same advantages given to provincial registered historic buildings can be given to CBRM registered historic buildings and those that seek to maintain them. Little has changed in the building itself, aside from a few enhancements. The hand carved and gold painted moldings prominently on display, the stained glass (fundraised for by the former congregation) still intact, the organ touched up and better than ever, the mighty pillars that provide the signature look of the building given a new coat of paint. The list goes on. Additionally, the floors have been redone for safety and aesthetic purposes, providing a shining dance floor when needed. The bathrooms reimagined to match the beauty of the building itself, and the former vestry now home to an industry standard prep room for caterers. Aesthetic updates and upkeep to an unchanged structure. Every aspect of this space has been designed with the desire to remove stress from not only it’s guests but the people who create, share and work under it’s roof. Available to be filled with the imagination of the planners, producers and dreamers that cross it’s path. With all my heart, I believe in the power of community and hospitality. I have been the recipient, time and time again, of this community’s generosity and spirit of care. This is my gift in return, made with love, for the island I am so proud to call my home. Thank you for your time and I hope I can count on your support,