Chimney repairs one step closer for church

Crucial repairs to Youbou’s only church are one step closer to reality thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers and ...

Bud Towle

Crucial repairs to Youbou’s only church are one step closer to reality thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers and all the community members who supported the group’s latest fundraising initiative.

On Saturday, more than $1,500 was raised during the Youbou Community Church Society’s very first bottle drive, with donations coming not just from Youbou but also Lake Cowichan and Honeymoon Bay.

“Everything went right. The weather was right, the volunteers showed up, the response from the community was outstanding, the camaraderie and the fun we were having,” said organizer Karen Dunnigan. “It was a good, good day…I’m hoping we can make it an annual event.”

The money raised will go towards repairing the building’s chimney, which is the society’s top priority for 2016 and will cost approximately $7,500.

“The chimney is in need of a complete upgrade. The linings, everything that goes along with it,” said church pastor Br. John Burtch.

This work will follow a number of recent projects at the church, including new railings outside the building, wheel chair access to the church hall and repairs to the outside wooden stairs. The church hall’s kitchen is also being brought up to code for Food Safe certification, which will allow meals to be cooked from scratch there and served at church or community functions.

According to Brook Hodson, advisor to church’s board, they have been finding ways to lower expenses which, in turn, enables its members to focus on larger projects like repairing the chimney and (eventually) replacing the roof.

“What we had to do is reduce our operating costs,” said Hodson. “That meant looking at energy saving and reducing our fuel bill — changing thermostats to automatic setbacks and changing all the lights to energy efficient bulbs — so we reduced our operating costs so we could put more money towards the rehabilitation costs.”

Ten per cent of all money raised by the society now goes into a reserve fund for the future replacement of the church’s roof.

“That will be $20,000 to $25,000, so we’ve got to start planning ahead,” said Hodson. “Up until now we haven’t had the ability to plan ahead.”

Hodson noted that none of the repairs would have been possible without the support of the community. In 2015 alone more than 1,500 hours were logged by the “active workforce” of community volunteers.

Built in 1938 by British Columbia Forest Products, the Youbou Community Church has always been non-denominational. This was a condition of use accepted by the church society when it formed in 1992 and took over management of the building.

“It’s available to anybody in the community who wants to use it,” said Br. John, adding that there are no fees to rent the space but the group does accept donations.

A one-year membership with the church society is $2. Its first monthly meeting of 2016 will be held Jan. 16 at 10 a.m. in the church hall.