L’Arche building for the future

Published on December 5, 2012
Ingrid Blais and core member Christina Tanner are a team when explaining the need for a new facility in Wolfville. Wendy Elliott

By Wendy Elliott




Town council has given Wolfville’s L’Arche Homefires community a temporary tax break until renovations to the former Anglican parish hall are completed.

Ingrid Blais, who directs Homefires, told council this is a big project.

“It’s not just good for L’Arche, it’s good for the wider community. We want this accessible space to be shared,” she said.

L’Arche purchased the hall at 341 Main Street in October. It will also continue to be used by St. John’s parish.

In fact, between 130-40 people from both communities gathered to celebrate the change of ownership. A $50,000 Hunt Family Foundation donation was received on Oct. 28, which covered the majority of the cost of purchasing the hall.

L’Arche is embarking on a major capital campaign to transform the hall into a three-storey structure capable of housing all of the Homefires day programs.

Blais estimated the total price tag will be about $2 million. She said some funds have already been collected and L’Arche plans to sell the old house it currently uses as workshop, store and offices.

A renovated headquarters will be safer and more accessible, Blais said. She added that the move has been in the forefront of her mind since 2007.

“When you have people with disabilities, all of whom are aging, you need to grapple with this.”

Legal and architectural services have already been contributed pro bono, she noted, by

TMC Law and architect Sydney Dumeresq.

According to Sandy Fraser, who is president of the Homefires board, the hall will be extended forward to create 11,100 square feet of space.

An elevator, storefront, a large weaving studio and office space will be accommodated, as well as the Cornerstone and Discoveries programs.

“We will then be able to welcome two more community members,” Fraser said.

Blais explained that when she came here

14 years ago, having previously worked for L’Arche in a city, “the level of inclusion incredibly high. I was first aware walking down the street with Linda DeWolfe. Our people feel very valued.”

Blais suggested that other in-kind support from the town might be advantageous after ground breaking in the spring.

Homefires employs 48 staff in Wolfville.