May 22, 2018 9:11 pm
Updated: May 22, 2018 11:59 pm

Halifax City Council provides preservation society with Khyber building, $250,000 grant

WATCH: For many in Halifax's arts community, the Khyber building is like hallowed ground. But as Jeremy Keefe reports, it's on its way to once again being a dedicated hub for music and the arts.

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A $1 sale and a $250,000 grant and just like that, Halifax is on its way to once again have a dedicated hub for music and the arts in the city’s downtown.

On Tuesday night, city council voted 14-1 in favour of the 1588 Barrington Building Preservation Society’s proposal to renovate and revitalize the Khyber building, the former arts centre known for showcasing some of the region’s top talent in the early days of their careers.

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For the society, it’s the culmination of a tremendous effort which includes drafting a new design, identifying a path to raising the necessary funding and proving themselves worthy of taking over the registered heritage building.

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“What we saw tonight was lots of councillors speaking in favour of the proposal,” explained Emily Davidson, the society’s president. “That’s really going to make our dream of making the Khyber building an accessible arts and community hub a reality.”

Approximately $4 million will be needed to complete the necessary renovations and ensure smooth operation of the building known to contain asbestos which contributed to the city closing its doors in 2014.

Davidson admits the work is far from over for their group who will soon begin aggressive fundraising efforts through several channels.

“We’ll be running a capital campaign as well as seeking funding from the federal and provincial levels, she said of their plans. “So that means looking to major donors as well as foundations and also running a grassroots fundraising campaign.”

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Halifax Coun. Waye Mason has pushed for this project to become a reality in the past and spoke at length of its importance to the city’s arts sector during the evening council meeting.

He indicated heavy rent costs would keep such a centre from sprouting up in the city’s downtown, making this project one that council should wholeheartedly support.

“Rent and the cost of buying buildings are becoming more and more expensive on the peninsula and especially in downtown,” he explained.

“That kind of artistic activity is being driven out of downtown so creating a space that’s going to be stable and long-lasting — it’s very important to the city to make sure it stayed downtown,” Mason said.

Follow @Jeremy_Keefe

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