Central Saanich council ordered a 60-day protection on a heritage church built in 1926
Council, with Mayor Ryan Windsor opposed, approved a temporary protection order for the Brentwood Anglican Chapel building at 788 Sea Drive.
Council issued the order after receiving a demolition permit application for the ocean-facing building listed on the municipality’s historic buildings inventory.
The move allows the municipality to confirm the heritage significance of the building as part of an investigation that would have seen the municipality retain a heritage consultant to assess heritage significance as well as a structural engineer to assess structural integrity.
The estimated total cost for both assessments is $5,000 and could lead to the municipality granting the building heritage status, a move that would require the municipality to compensate owner for any potential loss in value stemming from the designation.
Council’s decision to impose the temporary protection measures for the church building came during the same meeting when council refused to impose such measures on two historic barns on the former Woodwynn Farms site. Staff had recommended against such measures for the barns based on their condition. The Tsartlip First Nation — which assumed ownership of the site late last year — has promised to salvage wood from the iconic White Barn and create a historical record.
Council’s decision to preserve the church came after receiving a letter from Brentwood College School, arguing in favour of the demolition. The chapel built in 1926 was the lone survivor of a 1947 fire that destroyed the then campus of the school. The school now operates in Mill Bay, directly opposite the chapel across the Saanich Inlet.
The chapel, part of the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia prior to its sale in 2012, has been the subject of several conservation efforts and the current owner offered it as a gift to the college under the provision that the school remove it from the site to preserve it elsewhere.
The college has hired a specialized company to dismantle, salvage and preserve the building’s necessary and essential elements to allow its reconstruction in the future.
“The goal of the (school) is to save the essence of the building with as little waste as possible,” reads the letter. “Once the building has been dismantled, we would ensure removal of the foundation, back fill the lot and level the ground.”
The letter also warns of “multiple difficulties with the building, lot, and zoning” if council were to deny the demolition permit.
While the letter notes that the building’s current zoning allows for multiple public uses, the building is too small to be re-purposed. It also lacks sufficient parking. “In addition, the building is in violation of setback and height restrictions and removal of the building would remediate both issues,” it reads.
According to the letter, the owner has plans to apply for a residential rezoning of the lot and make a charitable contribution towards a cairn commemorating the church.
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