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Five church properties sold, debt erased for Anglican Diocese of B.C.

Nov 02 2012
Father John Laszezyk, left, from St. Andrew's Cathedral, stands with parishioner Will Meares at St. Columba's Church in View Royal. The church was reopened Thursday for services, 99 years after its first service on Nov. 2, 1913. 

Father John Laszezyk, left, from St. Andrew's Cathedral, stands with parishioner Will Meares at St. Columba's Church in View Royal. The church was reopened Thursday for services, 99 years after its first service on Nov. 2, 1913.

Photograph by: Darren Stone , timescolonist.com (Nov. 2012)

A year ago, the Anglican Diocese of B.C. made the traumatic and dramatic decision to sell nine Vancouver Island church properties or see its $1.2-million debt escalate further.

The move has turned out to be a blessing, despite the turmoil it caused for members whose families had attended the historic congregations for generations.

Five of the nine church properties have sold, the accumulated debt of the diocese is gone, and its financial future and mission potential have been "helped tremendously" for the next several years, said Chris Pease, the diocese's asset manager.

Listed at $175,000 to $1.4 million, sale prices came "very close" to asking prices, he said.

In combination with cuts to expenditures, the diocese has paid off its accumulated debt, and will use some of the proceeds "to finance the annual operating deficit until revenues and expenses are back in balance," Pease said in an email.

Leases and future sales of the unsold properties will support ministry initiatives and upgrade and maintain buildings within the diocese.

"I know it was very hard for parishioners," but necessary to stave off "many more disheartening situations," he said.

"One has to do something to make sure that the church survives and gets stronger for the future, even if it means making hard decisions now," he said. "And I think that's what the Anglican Church did."

Amanda Neal of DTZ Barnicke Commercial Real Estate handled the sale and said she and colleague Griff Lewis were pleasantly surprised by how many groups and public organizations expressed interest.

Three properties sold within three months.

The diocese opted to take the unsold properties off the market in the summer in order to re-evaluate the potential for relisting them, Neal said.

One of the churches - St. Columba's on High Street in View Royal - reopened Thursday for services, 99 years after its first service on Nov. 2, 1913.

The church has been leased to the Ordinariate Parish Society, a traditional Anglican congregation under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church. Another part of the property is rented to Little Friends daycare.

The Anglican Diocese of B.C. was created before B.C. became a province, covers only Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands and still includes about three dozen parishes, Pease said. kdedyna@timescolonist.com

THE CHANGING STATE OF CHURCHES

Vancouver Island properties that sold:

? St. Saviour's on Henry Street in Victoria, listed at $850,000, bought by a family as a home and dance studio.

? St. Martin-in-the-Field on Obed Avenue in Saanich, listed at nearly $1.2 million, purchased by the Victoria Full Gospel Fellowship.

? St. Alban's on Ryan Street in Victoria, listed at $1.25 million, zoned for single-family housing and bought by a developer.

? Church of the Holy Spirit on Carey Road in Saanich, listed at $1.4 million, purchased by New Life Community Fellowship, another Christian organization.

? Brentwood Memorial Chapel Hall on Sea Drive in Central Saanich, listed at $385,000, sold to a private individual. The Brentwood Memorial Chapel and Chapel Rectory had encumbrances on their titles, now removed, which is why they were not put up for sale with the church hall. "We're just looking at alternatives now," says Chris Pease, asset manager for the Anglican Diocese of B.C.

Properties that did not sell:

? St. Columba's on High Street in View Royal, listed at $900,000 but taken off the market due to no or "too low" offers, Pease says.

? All Saints on Pallisier Avenue in View Royal, listed at $1.4 million. The diocese is considering renting it to a daycare.

? St. Andrews on Koksilah Road in Cowichan Station, listed at $350,000. The red building, more than a century old, is surrounded by a cemetery.

? All Saints Hall in Crofton, listed at $175,000, will either be demolished or moved to another location, Pease says.

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