Lt. Michelle Cale and Michael Sutherland

Argyle Street building progressing steadily

The Salvation Army will occupy the main floor of the former federal building, now called Libberock.

Although slightly behind schedule, construction has been ongoing inside the former federal building, now called Libberock, on Argyle Street.

The first tenant, the Salvation Army, will be taking over the main floor for all of its services.

The historic building was purchased by Brent Manson and Mike McKay in May 2015 and by September of that year, they were in talks with the Salvation Army. The first nail hit the walls shortly after.

“It has been ongoing,” said project manager, Michael Sutherland.

Even before the papers were signed, Manson build a new arch in the foyer and on the entrances to showcase the building. That will be the location of the new sanctuary for the church. All of the floor plans are complete and once the walls go up, Sutherland expects the rest to be an efficient process.

The front of the church will include sliding doors opening to an expansion for a greeting area or in case more seating is needed for special events.

From there, a hallway will lead down the right-hand side to a series of offices, including one for Lt. Michelle Cale, and social services, family services and finance departments, as well as a large multipurpose area for staff. A late addition that came out of the Exercise Coastal Response in June is a space to be used as a contact point for emergency radio equipment in the event of a natural disaster.

“We already have people working in conjunction with emergency radio and there are so many collaborating parties in the Valley that it was not difficult to put together,” Cale said.

“It is a legacy left by the Coastal Response.”

At the far side of the floor is another legacy. The former “catwalk” running above ground was used by Canada Post management to keep an eye on employees. It is now sealed off but leaves an historic element to the building.

Also at the rear of the building will be a kitchen for staff, the church and to prepare meals for clients. This summer, the Salvation Army has also been providing bagged breakfasts and lunches for children who are missing out on the breakfast programs during the school year.

The food bank and thrift store, both of which receive donations from the public, will have added support. The food bank will be enhanced with a preparation and staging area, as well as storage space and the thrift store will have a dedicated area for sorting and an easily accessible drop-off location outside. The store’s separate entrance will be off of Fourth Avenue for shoppers.

Sutherland said progress is going well.

“Once we get a few final details sorted out, the walls will go up really quickly,” he said.

“We have local contractors ready to go and we want to get (the Salvation Army) in as fast as possible. We’re looking forward to seeing it all done and couldn’t have asked for better people to be involved in the project.”

Cale knows the move will be a huge endeavor to transfer the contents of both buildings, but said, “we have a lot of helping hands and take volunteers.”

The second floor of the building has identical floor space and is open to renovation ideas to include new tenants.

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