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Church heritage status to stay -- for now

Historical committee's ruling only a recommendation

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 19/6/2015 (735 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The fate of a historic North End church remains uncertain after a civic advisory committee rejected a request to strip the building of its heritage designation.

Members of the historical buildings and resources committee voted unanimously Thursday to turn down the application from the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada to remove the heritage designation from the 107-year-old church, formerly known as St. Giles church.

Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files 
St. Giles church, which now sits empty, was built in 1908.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press files St. Giles church, which now sits empty, was built in 1908.

Heritage planner Rina Ricci told the committee the Baptists, who owned the church since 1997, no longer have a use for the church, adding it's now vacant, and they want to remove the heritage designation "to maximize the potential redevelopment of the site for future owners."

The historical buildings committee is an advisory body, and its decisions are only a recommendation to be included as part of an administrative report to the standing policy committee on downtown development, heritage and riverbank management.

The two-storey, stone-and-brick church was built in 1908. It was given a heritage designation in 1999, protecting its exterior and entire sanctuary, including the church organ.

The designation prevents demolition and requires a special permit for any construction work on the heritage elements.

The church originally was home to Winnipeg's first Scottish Presbyterian congregation.

Cindy Tugwell, executive director of Heritage Winnipeg, said she feared removal of the heritage designation would be the first step toward the church's demolition.

Ricci said members of the committee toured the church in mid-May and concluded nothing about the building's heritage character had changed since it was first put on the city's historic resources list in 1997.

"Nothing of significance has changed to warrant the removal from the (heritage) list and that this building should remain on the list of historical resources," Ricci said.

A representative of the Baptists, who watched the committee proceedings, declined to comment afterwards.

The Baptists issued a news release late Thursday afternoon saying it's their intent to find a buyer willing to maintain the church's heritage designation.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Aldo Santin.

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