Update #3 February 2010

from Redevelopment Open House February 2010

Why do we need a new synagogue can’t we just fix up the old one?
    In May 2006 the Redevelopment Committee approved a recommendation for its Building Review sub-committee that refurbishing the current building to provide for our future needs was not a cost effective solution. This report added to a previous report of the building deficiencies done by a professional firm almost 2 decades earlier.  Estimates for the refurbishments were projected at $6 million. The committee also felt strongly that if the refurbishment was done it would still leave us with many key building issues not being addressed.

What is this rezoning process about?
    To build a new synagogue on our property we have to apply to the city to obtain the proper rezoning usage permit for our site.  This process requires us to do certain studies (such as a traffic study) and to find out how our neighbours feel about the proposal.  This process takes about a year and ends when the Vancouver city council has a hearing and actually votes on whether to approve the rezoning.

What is this campus I keep hearing about?
    For two years BI and the Vancouver Talmud Torah (VTT) have been discussing how we might co-operate as we each wanted to redevelop our properties. Together we felt that the consideration of a “campus approach” should be explored. Though our properties and organizations are legally distinct and each has its own governing structure, we believe that there are synergies and cost savings from us working together where possible, so that in the end we will both benefit from this co-operation. Spaces may be shared, as well as time and energy, to the benefit of both of our communities.
    The city has also requested that for rezoning purposes, we approach them with one redevelopment plan for the property we occupy. So BI and VTT are working with the same architect and consultant s to prepare the rezoning proposal. This not only saves us money but also ensures that the redevelopment complement each other and the surrounding community.

The architect showed some drawings of a new synagogue. Is that what BI will look like?
    What we have shown to you are drawings needed for the rezoning process. They are intended to show the scale or mass. The city needs to have a sense of the size and use of structures and how they will be situated on our property. The actual building design will come later in the process.

How much will it cost? 
    We are too early in the process to know what the costs and campaign target will be. We are working towards determining our financial capacity. We will also be working with the architect to define our actual space needs and building design that will then provide us with a basis to estimate construction costs.

Can we afford this? 
    In order to achieve our dream of a new BI synagogue we know that it must be affordable by the congregation. It is too early to set a campaign target. The campaign cabinet will be going through a process based on major gifts that will help us determine our financial capability for this project.

What will it cost me?
    Your leadership hopes that every member will want to be part of this dream and will choose to participate at an appropriate level. We will need everyone’s involvement to build our legacy for tomorrow. 

Will synagogue life be disrupted? 
    There will probably be disruptions and inconveniences as a new synagogue takes shape. But it is far too early to know any specifics. As the redevelopment proceeds we will certainly take steps to alert our members to any disruptions and minimize the impact on the congregation.

Who is involved in planning this?
    The Board of Directors has established several committees to focus on the redevelopment. As the project grows so will the number of volunteers and professionals engaged in various stages of the redevelopment. The main firm we are engaged with is Acton Ostry Architects as we work through the rezoning process.

When will the synagogue be built?
    Time will tell! At present the rezoning process will take about 12 months, ending in early 2011. At the end of that time we should be able to forecast the next major steps and create a timeline for milestone events.

Who can I talk to about my ideas for a new synagogue?
    There are many people you can approach. You may want to start with the Development Cabinet: BI President, Catherine Epstein; Capital Campaign co-chairs, Gary Averbach and Lorne Cristall; Site Regeneration Campaign Chair, Sam Hanson; Executive Director, Shannon Etkin; and Rabbi Jonathan Infeld. See previous updates for other members of the Capital Campaign and Site Regeneration Committees.