Mel Boutilier is stepping down as head of the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank, a Halifax institution he founded more than 30 years ago, but says it's not the way he wanted to go.

"It's something I've been thinking of for awhile now," he told the CBC. "I've had a lot of good years there."

The 86-year-old volunteer took a temporary leave in the fall to have his sixth hip replacement. He said when he left the hospital the organization had introduced new management.

"Those people are still there and doing management...I felt I need to step aside and explore some other possibilities."

Boutilier said he had wanted to pick a successor.

"I would prefer to leave in the way I had planned. It's just not the way I wanted to do it," he said.

The charity began in the basement of a Seventh Day Adventist Church on Parker Street. It is now based on Maynard Street in Halifax's north end.

The food bank serves between 200 and 300 families a week, but it also includes a furniture bank, a skills training centre and two thrift stores.

Boutilier’s community efforts have been lauded over the years. He’s a member of the Order of Canada, the Order of Nova Scotia, and he’s received numerous other awards.

"We accomplished a lot. I have a lot to be thankful for," said Boutilier.

He's worked as a volunteer for 31 years.

"I've never received a pay cheque," he said. 

Already thinking of his next step, Boutilier says he wants to help the young in north-end Halifax continue their education.

"There's a lot yet to do. I feel strong and healthy. I just want to carry on doing good things"