'Something new' to replace St. Matthew Anglican Church after Regina council removes heritage designation
The land where a century-old church stands in Regina's heritage neighbourhood will play host to something new after Regina city council voted unanimously to approve removing the building's heritage designation.
St. Matthew Anglican Church on Winnipeg Street was built in the 1920s in the "Gothic revival" style, but more than a century later the red-brick building is cracking, leaning and unsafe for occupation.
The church's foundation is made of brick and clay tile and was not properly designed for the soil conditions in Regina. The repairs that are required to save the building could cost $10 million and that's money the Anglican Diocese of Qu'Apelle says it simply does not have.
That's why the diocese brought the application to council. The diocese's representative, Rev. Mike Sinclair, said the removal of the heritage designation from the church provides the opportunity for "something new to be born" in its place.
"To be honest, it's a mixed bag. It means the end of an era for a beloved place of worship," Sinclair said after council's vote on Wednesday.
It's been a long road to get to this point and there is still plenty of work ahead for the diocese.
St. Matthew was designated as a municipal heritage property in 2005, but in recent years has not been used for church services and has been closed to the public.
Starting in 2018, its congregation began a process to merge with four others in Regina. They now all are part of the Immanuel Anglican Church.
Although the diocese has tried to maintain the church, it says the rehabilitation work has become too expensive. Surveyor's reports have provided cost estimates for the repairs that range from $3 million to $10 million.
Wednesday's decision to remove the St. Matthew's heritage designation -- which applied to elements of the building's exterior as well as its stain glass windows -- now clears the way for potential redevelopment.
Sinclair said the diocese will now meet with some of its partners to figure out its next steps.
A "Vision for Purpose" document that was submitted to the city shows that the future could include retaining some of the external walls and using them in a new build "that serves the needs of the neighbourhood with a community hub and mixed use rental housing."
The document is not binding, but it was enough to convince the members of city council to support the removal of the heritage designation.
Sinclair said it's important for the diocese to remain present in Regina's heritage neighbourhood.
"We've always been there," he said. "We have a relationship with the community, we have a responsibility as the diocese to look at how we best use the space that's given to us."
Rather than sell the land off to someone else to redevelop, Sinclair said the diocese want to serve as stewards and look to the community to figure out what the space's future will look like.
Mayor Sandra Masters said it is always unfortunate when a heritage building is lost, but stressed that this was not the fault of the diocese. It had done everything right, the mayor said, and this was a collaborative decision brought about by the effects of time and the nature of where the church was built.
"Sometimes when you're going to play catch up, it's just too far gone," Masters said.