Cape Breton society still waiting on flood relief money

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Cape Breton society still waiting on flood relief money

A non-profit group in Sydney continues to wait for flood relief funding after it says its building suffered $170,000 in damage during the Thanksgiving Day storm.

Cedars Club is owned and run by the St. Joseph Lebanese and Syrian Benevolent Society. In November, it applied to the Nova Scotia Disaster Relief Fund through the not-for-profit category.

"Not opening wasn't an option," said Becky Chisholm, president of the St. Joseph Lebanese and Syrian Benevolent Society.

Waiting for relief money

The society went ahead with renovations within weeks of the flood, as mould was deteriorating the interiour. Now it's hoping the relief money will come through. 

"It's a federal government issue at this point and just waiting for a decision from them on our eligibility," said Chisholm. "Whether or not we're seen as an essential to the community."

Building open to anyone

The Cedars Club first opened in Sydney in 1909. It hosts its own Lebanese and Syrian cultural events, but also many other community events, from Pride dances to weddings and concerts.

"We welcome all people of the community to come and use our facility and celebrate with us and share their culture as well," said Chisholm.

The federal funding is contingent on whether or not their building is available for use by anyone.

'Club' title issue

Sydney-Victoria Liberal MP Mark Eyking said during the application process, the federal department managing the funding was concerned with the building's name — Cedars Club — and that club meant it was exclusive.

"We reassured them, the department, that it's not a club, as such, that it is for all the community, the greater community, for many community activities," said Eyking.

Eyking said there should be a decision within the next few weeks.

Other options

If Cedars Club doesn't receive federal relief money, Chisholm said the society will look at taking out a mortgage, although that wouldn't be ideal.

"We'd have to make some decisions on how we'd manage that debt," said Chisholm.

But she said she's hopeful the government will decide in their favour. 

"It's spaces like this that make communities strong and builds communities," said Chisholm. "And I hope the government recognizes that."