Khyber Arts Society asks Halifax for $45K to move

The Khyber Arts Society is hoping to sign a lease on its new location in north-end Halifax and is asking the city for $45,000 to help with the relocation.

Asbestos and lead found in Barrington Street building

The Khyber building poses a health risk to occupants. (Google Streetview)

The Khyber Arts Society wants $45,000 from the Halifax Regional Municipality to help it move into a new location in the north end of the city.

The society hopes to sign the lease for its new location on Tuesday and wants the city to cover moving and rental costs. The new location has not been disclosed.

The society was recently given an eviction notice from its building on Barrington Street. In December, the Halifax Regional Municipality had the building assessed and found the plaster raised "safety concerns related to the presence of asbestos and lead." 

In February, the municipality gave notice to vacate the building due to those health concerns. 

Daniel Joyce, the artistic director of the Khyber Centre, says he worried that if his group left the building, they'd never get back in. 

"If things take too long to repair the building, maybe the city council in five years from now … don’t even want to deal with it. Maybe they'll just sell it," he said.  

Arts group hopes to return to Khyber

Joyce says Mayor Mike Savage and councillors told him all the plaster will be replaced and an elevator will be installed. Joyce says the arts group didn't think the asbestos was a high risk, since they could only see it in patches on the walls. 

Joyce says he had good conversations with the mayor and councillors. He was told the society can come back after 18 months, but he expects it to take longer. He calls the Khyber space "rare" with an atmosphere that can't be replicated in another home.

"The intermingling of artists, the intermingling of musicians, and of visual artists and of other disciplines, it's so important to having a healthy arts community," he said.

Halifax Regional Municipality staff recommended paying the $45,000 to cover moving costs and supplemental rental costs for a period of up to three years.