Renovation Corner: May 26 2013

Well, if there was any doubt that we are in renovation mode, we have only to try to park off the alley or enter the church to make believers of us!

The hole has now been dug in the back in preparation for the elevator shaft. It will be built to provide entry on all three floors: the basement (in what was the Nazareth Room), the main floor adjacent to the Canterbury Room, and the office floor across from Lynn’s office.

The church itself has now been emptied of furnishings to allow for the installation of new flooring, and we have moved our worship down to the lower hall. The metal chairs there may not provide too much by way of comfort, but the Building Renewal Action Group (BRAG) is considering chairs to replace the pews that are not only sturdy and attractive but also … comfortable.


By God’s grace,

your generosity,

and a lot of help from friends in high places …


 We are proud, pleased … and relieved … to announce the launch of:



an ambitious renovation project that will make our church facilities

accessible, flexible and welcoming … for us and for the whole community …

now and for a generation to come.

+ + +

 Back in 2011 we asked for your support in a $1.1 million campaign to support a renovation project to give new life to our ageing buildings. That campaign met its target and we proceeded with our plans to build a ramp, an elevator, and accessible washrooms, to upgrade our electrical and mechanical services, and renovate the worship space to double as performance space.

We went to tender in February of this year and readjusted our budget once the bids came in. It appeared that the entire project might not be affordable. So we asked you to help us raise additional funds so we could ensure that the worship space would be included with the other renovations planned.

 Help us you did!

 Your donations and pledges raised almost $60,000! At the same time, the details of a recent bequest were confirmed, providing another $175,000 for the project. Then, at the last minute, a federal grant for $50,000, for which we had applied, came through (from the “Enabling Accessibility Fund”).

This is now enough for us to start work on the entire project, worship space included. We are deferring several procurements for the worship space pending the outcome of an application to the Provincial Government’s “Community Facility Enhancement Program”. Should we be successful in that application (we will know within a week or two), we will have the funds to complete all the work in the original plan. If not, the facility will still reflect our vision for the new space.


This Week at St. Stephen’s–March 10, 2013


Mar 10We are in campaign mode once again. But not for long.

The bids have come in for the renovations we have been planning for the spring. Given our funds at hand—a combination of donations to our Open Doors Campaign and a government grant—plus the pledges still coming in from the campaign, we find ourselves $345,000 short of our goal.

We have enough to fund the priorities the congregation set when we launched the campaign: an outdoor ramp up to the Canterbury Room doors; an elevator connecting the three floors of our main buildings; and new washrooms adequate for our seating capacity.

But it is not enough to allow us begin renovating the worship space. This renovation would have featured a new sound system, the replacement of the pews with (padded) chairs, theatre lighting for both our worship and the performing arts, and a low apron stage at the foot of the chancel.

Grant applications are currently pending for community enhancement and accessibility programs of the provincial and federal governments. We are also waiting for the resolution of a generous bequest earmarked, in part, for the renovation. Together these potential funding sources would have helped meet the shortfall. But they are speculative in nature and indefinite in timing.

So we are returning to the congregation to help us fulfil our vision. When you receive a letter from Jack & Heather Walker, our Open Doors Co-chairs, please consider prayerfully your response. We need to hear from you by March 17th.

This Week at St. Stephen’s–February 24, 2013


Feb 24This week (though not in time for this writing) we will have received the contract bids for our renovation work. By next week we will likely be back in campaign mode, approaching the parish once again for its financial support, and cutting back on the overall scope of the project.

We can say this with confidence because in spite of our care in costing out the project and our diligence in raising over $1 million from parishioners, none of us on BRAG have any experience of bids ever coming in under the original estimates … or renovation projects coming in on time, for that matter. So we are preparing for this next round of adjustments before the contract is awarded and the work begins.

Our hope is that work on the elevator, the new washrooms, and the exterior accessibility ramp will begin immediately after Easter. This will make things messy but it will allow us to continue worshiping in the church and working in the offices.

Work on the church itself should begin in May and at that time we will move our worship down into the lower Memorial Hall. Think of it as a kitchen renovation that requires a family to eat its meals down in the basement for a while: a temporary break from routine that makes everyone appreciate even more the routine itself.

God willing (and the creek don’t rise) we will all be back in our new digs by Start-up Sunday, September 8th. Or by Christmas.

REPORT OF BRAG (Building Redevelopment Action Group)

The Building Redevelopment Action Group (“BRAG”) members have continued to work diligently throughout the past year towards ensuring a Spring 2013 start for the Open Doors renovations.  Considerable time has been spent working with Sturgess Architecture in order to finalize the many details involved in the architectural drawings and the construction work specifications for the project.  We have also worked with a variety of consultants to obtain pricing for various elements of the renovations and to complete design aspects, particularly in regard to the mechanical, electrical and structural upgrades to be undertaken.  In addition work has been undertaken to obtain pricing for a variety of items including new furnishings, lighting and sound systems.

In the past year BRAG has put into place a financial planning model to ensure accurate recording of funds received and expenses paid, and to permit the tracking of invoices to ensure that they fall within budget.

On the matter of fundraising, we are grateful to have continued to receive donations to the Open Doors campaign throughout the past year.  We were also fortunate in receiving a $125,000.00 grant from the Province to be applied towards the cost of the new lower level washroom facilities.  We have applied for further grants and hope to know the outcome of those applications shortly.

As of the date of writing this report we are advised by Sturgess Architecture that the project will go out to tender on January 31, 2013.  Four contractors have been invited to bid on the project.  Tender is scheduled to close on February 21, 2013. Once tender closes BRAG will then review the bids received.  At that point we will know, for the first time, the actual costs for the elements of the renovation work.  BRAG will then be in a position to evaluate actual project costs against funds available.

Even if we receive additional grants, our preliminary estimates at this point put us behind what we anticipate we will need to accomplish the entire scope of work.  A final financial appeal will be made to the congregation once we have received the tender bids and have assessed costs against funds received.  Any final shortfall will be dealt with by removing or revising portions of the renovation plan.

The construction work is scheduled to start at the end of March and is expected to be completed by September 8, 2013.  We are very grateful that one of our parishioners, Kalum Galle, has volunteered to act as BRAG’s construction representative during the construction process.

Finally, with respect to the Memorial Hall we are continuing to work with the City to explore funding for options for the redevelopment of this space as an arts incubator space.

We thank everyone for their continued support of the Open Doors project.  We especially wish to thank all of the members of BRAG for their hard work and dedication over the past year.

Respectfully Submitted

Keith Moe
Louise Redmond
Co-chairs, BRAG.  

This Week at St. Stephen’s–May 20, 2012 / BRAG UPDATE


Far be it from anyone to suggest that BRAG (our Building Renewal Action Group) is dragging its feet! There cannot be a harder working, more dedicated group of church volunteers anywhere! But people are asking when our long-awaited renovations will begin; and the answer is: not yet.

The problem is not with efforts on our part. We have raised the money—over $1 million in cash and pledges. We continue to seek, and continue to receive, all the necessary diocesan approvals. Plans are developing apace with our hired architects. So why is there no shovel in the ground?

The hold-up is our attempt to secure partnerships through the federal, provincial and municipal governments. In fact we have already received a $125,000 grant from the Province for the installation of barrier-free washrooms. Another $50,000 federal grant application was turned down because of some confusion (on its part) over who actually owns our buildings. We will re-apply.

But we are stalled as we negotiate a partnership with the City of Calgary, which very much wants our project to succeed. The City badly needs “arts incubation space”, that is, dedicated space for arts administration, rehearsal and performance, and our project provides exactly that. But there is little precedent for the City working with a church in this way. So we are all trying to find our way through uncharted territory.

No worries, our renovations will happen. Plans will continue to be developed. We are just on a longer timetable than we first envisaged.

BRAGGING: Tuesday, February 21, 2012

An Update from the Building Renewal Action Group

Well, suddenly things are moving very fast toward the renovation of our church buildings! Members of BRAG have made an application and a presentation to CADA (Calgary Arts Development Association). The application is for $795,000 toward the creation of “incubation” art space, that is, public space that allows new and smaller arts groups to rehearse, perform, and run their organizations. Our application was well received and we will find out on March 16, 2012, if CADA will forward our application directly to City Council.

Other applications have gone out for a Federal Enabling Accessibility Grant, a Provincial Community Facilities Enhancement Program grant, and matching grants from the Anglican Foundation and the Anglican Diocese of Calgary.

Meanwhile, four sub-groups of BRAG are fanning out to obtain estimates for furniture and fixtures for the renovated church space. These include: the chairs to replace the pews; new AV equipment; organ upgrades; and ecclesiastical furnishings (a new altar and hangings).