The feasibility for St. John’s Heritage Church redevelopment project is under consideration with the village. (Priyanka Ketkar photo)

‘We have not dropped the project’: says Burns Lake Council about St. John’s Heritage Church

Work ongoing to determine the project’s feasibility

The Burns Lake Village council has faced delays in the next steps for redevelopment of St. John’s Heritage Church due to the pandemic, but intend to continue working on a plan for the project.

The village has set aside $50,000 in reserve for the project from the “General Operating” fund.

“All expenditures have been budgeted through other projects such as the sidewalk project and the paving project on First Avenue,” said Sheryl Worthing, the chief administrative officer for the village adding that the village has also been working on some side projects for the church building like bringing water service to the property line, getting a wheelchair access built off of the new sidewalk in the front of the building, preparing for a sidewalk let down for the parking lot development.

The village has also approached Tom Mercer of Mercer & Schaefer Glass Studio for an estimate on window repairs and restoration.

”Tom Mercer from Mercer & Schaefer Glass Studio in Victoria was scheduled to be here in April to assess the windows and then provide a quote and timeline to repair the windows. Unfortunately with Covid, he had to cancel. He will let me know as soon as he is able to travel. We are hopeful he will be here this summer,” said Worthing and said that the village is waiting on next steps that would be determined once they get an estimate on the cost of window repairs.

Earlier last year, the Village of Burns Lake and the Lakes District Museum Society had signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the St. John’s Heritage Church Redevelopment Project under which the museum society was to present a business plan that would be agreeable to both parties.

RELATED: Would St. John’s Heritage Church ever be reopened?

The village however has not definitively determined whether the redevelopment is feasible or not.

During a June 23 council meeting this year, Michael Riis-Christianson had presented the council with a letter outlining the St. John’s Heritage Church’s redevelopment prospects, hoping to revitalize the work on the project. This letter came after the council rejected the museum society’s business plan proposal in November 2019.

The rejection was based on two grounds, first, the council felt that the facility would require external funding and second, the cost of redevelopment didn’t justify the facility’s limited usage outlined in the proposal. The council is yet to find a solution on both those fronts.

“We are working on whether redevelopment is feasible. We will definitely apply for grants once a plan has been developed. We will need a shovel ready project to apply for funding. The project will not go forward without grant funding,” said Worthing.

In his letter, Riis-Christianson, had offered to take up admin work for the church for up to a year, to help reduce the building’s operating cost however, the council has not reached any decision yet on whether or not to accept the offer. The council is now in the process of preparing a letter response to Riis-Christianson to update him of the village’s work on the project.

”It’s definitely a work in progress. We have not dropped the project,” said Worthing.

Priyanka Ketkar
Multimedia journalist

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