CHMA spoke with Elijah Manchester, who moved back to New Brunswick after spotting a listing for a vacant church in Dorchester. The asking price was under $60,000, prompting Manchester to dream about a home with lots of space for projects, a music venue, a workshop. Manchester says he was excited to build something that could have injected some life into the shrinking village of Dorchester, and eventually attract more young people to relocate there. “Places like Austin and Portland used to look like Dorchester,” he says, “before they became cultural hubs…”

The whole thing fell through when the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation denied him insurance for the mortgage, on the grounds that the church building didn’t look like a traditional residential property.

“I wasn’t scared of the challenge. The bank said ‘We’re good for the money if it’s insured, but otherwise it’s just a risky investment that we’re not interested in.” says Manchester.

“The story isn’t over. I really like the idea of bringing a younger crowd to a community like Dorchester… The future of Dorchester looks really bleak at this point, but I think that it’s cheap enough for someone like me to make it work… the added bonus of maybe attracting more people my age (I’m in my late 20’s, by the way) really appeals to me.”church