The city has turned down a request to buy McDougall United Church in downtown Edmonton and assume responsibility for repairs to the historic structure.

Officials from McDougall United wanted the city to buy the building for $1 and then lease it back to them for the same amount. They also want the city to fund $8 million to $12 million in repairs to the crumbling 105-year-old structure.

The church council says it doesn't have the money to pay for this work, which includes addressing structural, mechanical and electrical system issues. 

Church treasurer Greg Greenough says the church has played a unique role in the history of Edmonton. 

“When it was built, our city was a population of 8,000 people," he told council's executive committee.  "You can imagine how prominent it was in the life of the city. I don't think we can close our eyes to that.”

Councillors agree that the structure should be saved. But Mayor Don Iveson says the city can’t become a landlord to a church.

“We've got other facilities that we already own that we need to invest capital in,” he said.

“From roads, to libraries to rec centres."

Instead, city administration has been asked to prepare a report on setting up an arm’s length foundation to take over the church and help find money for its preservation.

A report is expected to be ready by September.