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How the Power of Perseverance Sustained the Tatamagouche Centre Rebuild Project

Following through with large-scale building renovations requires commitment and persistence, as there are many obstacles that are likely to arise. Financial barriers, resource shortages, and global issues can cause delays and even full on restructuring of project plans.

Over the past two years, due to COVID-19, Canadians experienced the brunt of timber scarcity, inflation, and building closures. United Churches and affiliated buildings were no exception. As a result, ministry transitioned online, and buildings and property plans were put on hold. But despite these challenges, many United Church properties were still able to see the crisis as an opportunity to retrofit their buildings, and become more sustainable, thanks to the support of the Faithful Footprints program.


“The Centre’s Board of Directors, Executive Director, and staff team all agreed that this moment presents a rare opportunity to do the first phase of their retrofit plans while the programs were closed.”

- Tatamagouche Centre Project Team, NS


The Tatamagouche Centre, also known as The Atlantic Christian Training Centre is a Community Ministry of the United Church of Canada, located in Tatamagouche, Nova Scotia. The Centre was one of the many communities that took full advantage of their building closure and continued their efforts to rejuvenate and upgrade it. 

After a brief closure back in 2015, and through a deep, spiritual process of loss and renewed commitment, the Centre was on a promising track to turn things around for the Ministry. In the fall of 2016, the Centre’s Board of Directors, Executive Director, and staff team prepared a robust business plan for 2017-2021, renewing the Centre’s finances, programming, and administration. But everything changed in March 2020, and, as with many congregations across Canada, the Tatamagouche Centre was closed until further notice. Yet, through financial setbacks and the uncertainty of the pandemic, and with no idea as to when their work would continue, the working group persevered in their efforts. There was enough optimism amongst the team to consider doing a green retrofit. 


Developing a Plan to Prosper: A 3-Phase Retrofit

The working group was confident in their ability to anticipate and mitigate potential risks that could come up in the process of completing their retrofit project. They were aware that the costs of the renovations might exceed original estimates, and were concerned that they might not have the in-house staff expertise pertaining to building, construction, and engineering, rendering them vulnerable to mistakes and exaggerated quotations. So, the team established a thorough mitigation strategy to confront these risks, including splitting their full project plans into three phases. The three phase plan would enable them to make informed and incremental changes in subsequent phases. This would allow them the opportunity to seek a feasible amount of funding for each phase, and lean on the extensive project management and community finance experience of a highly skilled advisory group of staff and experts. 

Considering the challenges at the time, the Tatamagouche Centre applied to the Faithful Footprints retrofit grant to support the most strategic part of the green retrofit project. Phase 1 focused on replacing and insulating the main roof and re-doing the wall and windows in the chapel in preparation for Phase 2. Phase 1 was completed in June 2021. 



A year on, following these projects, the Tatamagouche Centre reduced GHG emissions by 44.9%, energy costs by 20.6%, electricity use by 38.1%, and fuel oil usage by 47.8%, demonstrating some of the highest energy and decarbonization reductions among United Church properties within the program. Even further reductions are expected over the next couple of years, as the team plans to complete the second and third phase of their retrofit project. Phase 2 will include a full electrical upgrade, heating and cooling replacement, with an overall envelope re-design. Phase 3 will include replacing remaining windows, repairing and insulating the exterior North-facing wall and re-cladding. 


Building Up The Tatamagouche Centre


“We’re so grateful for your partnerships and donations. Every bit of loving support from our communities makes a difference. The support of our community has meant so much to us in these past years, and we thank you for your love and stewardship of the Centre. It has been a brutal time but we feel more resilient and hopeful than ever – the Tatamagouche Centre is more important and relevant than ever, and we see it enduring and flourishing.” 

- Staff and Board of Tatamagouche Centre, NS


Behind the dedication to rebuilding the Tatamagouche Centre, there is a large supportive network who value the Centre deeply, including current and past participants, program leads, former staff, members of local communities, and hundreds of members of the United Church of Canada. Their devotion to sustaining the Centre is much larger than the building itself. 

Thinking ahead, ten years from now, The Tatamagouche Centre’s vision is for their whole building to be updated, and to have hundreds of highly engaged members within the ministry. The team hopes to become known locally for their green retrofit. They hope faith communities with old buildings that have an interest in alternative energies and those who have heard about the breathtaking chapel, will flock to the Centre to learn more about how they accomplished their restoration goals.

You can read more about the spiritual meaning behind The Tatamagouche Centre’s Green Retrofit project in our guest blog ‘Retrofitting our Sacred Space with Faithful Footprints Funding’ written by Tatamagouche Executive Director, Nanci Lee. 


Faithful Footprints Program

The United Church of Canada (UCCan) Faithful Footprints program offers grants, tools and inspiration to help its congregations reduce their carbon footprint. With the Church’s commitment to reducing its greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions by 80% by 2030, this one of a kind program offers up to $30,000 in grants towards energy conservation and renewable energy projects (conditions apply).

Faith & the Common Good is the delivery partner for UCCans Faithful Footprints program.  To date, we have engaged over 300 congregations, camps, and buildings across the country. Your participation in the program puts your faith into action and helps the Church reach its target.

Aleyxa Gates Julien is the PR/Communications Coordinator for Faithful Footprints and can be reached at [email protected]

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