Church repair costs total $1.5 million

Tyler Clarke
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Faced with a repair job valued at about $1.5 million, voting members of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church face a difficult decision later this month.


Engineers examine a suspect crossbeam as they inspect the attic of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church for structural problems earlier this year. 

“We have to decide what we’re going to do with our building,” session clerk Norman Hill summarized.

“We’ve got results from our engineer and he’s been giving us several different cost options that we can look at – a temporary one and a permanent one.”

The permanent solution costs $1.5 million and the temporary option is about $300,000 -- potentially tough pills to swallow for a church membership of about 200 churchgoers.

Before they begin fundraising, voting members will decide on their next course of action -- a decision set to be made during an evening meeting on March 17.

There are four main options, Hill said -- the permanent solution, the temporary solution and selling the building and renting the worship space, and selling the building and worshiping elsewhere.  

The pricey permanent solution includes replacing the building’s attic beams and doing extensive work around the building’s perimeter.

The pilasters -- the brick abutments that stick out the side of the building -- need to be strengthened from basement level up with concrete.

“You have to support the beams right from the ground up,” Hill explained. “There’s nothing with the basement or the foundation, just getting down to that level to repair them.”

The temporary option would see about eight structural pillars put up through the sanctuary to strengthen the roof.

St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church members have been attending services at Wesley United Church since late last year, when their building’s structural problems began raising eyebrows.

We have to decide what we’re going to do with our building. Norman Hill

Remaining at Wesley United Church and washing their hands clean of the St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church building is another option, Hill said, noting that the congregation has been happy worshipping with Rev. Tony Thompson.

Another option might be relinquishing ownership of the building, but still worshipping in it.

“We were looking at the Third Avenue United Church in Saskatoon and their experience,“ Hill said. ”They sold it and then they rented it back with the idea that they could continue worshiping there as long as they want. So, that would be our idea, to sell it to somebody and then rent it back, if possible.”

The owner might use the balance of the building for their own purposes, allowing the congregation its worship space, he explained.

Be it one of these four solutions or another one he’s yet to consider, the more than 100 voting members of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church are expected to make a decision on March 17.

If they decide to stay in the St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, another challenge will be finding someone to replace Rev. Sandy Scott, who left the church last year.

See a future edition of the Daily Herald for an in-depth historical analysis of the building, which was built in 1906, as well as a report on whatever decision the congregation makes when it comes to the building’s future. 

Organizations: Presbyterian Church, Wesley United Church, Third Avenue United Church Daily Herald

Geographic location: St. Paul, Saskatoon

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