The concrete steps are chipping away leading up to the main entrance of St. James United Church on Sainte-Catherine Street. ((CBC))

The historic St. James United Church in downtown Montreal may have to close its doors as it waits for government funding to do millions of dollars worth of repairs, the CBC has learned.

The church, which was built between 1887 and 1889, is waiting for federal and provincial funding to fix the crumbling front entrance, the leaking slate roof, and the out-of-date fire alarm system.

The fire escape was also stolen during a previous renovation at the church.

The cost of repairing the church, which is a national historic site, is estimated at more than $2 million.

The church minister, Arlen Bonner, said it is frustrating watching the church fall apart waiting for government grants to come through.


St. James United Church is a national historic site. ((CBC))

He said the church cannot raise enough money through donations and space rental to pay for the growing list of problems.

"Ultimately, if we don't do the work, we'll get shut down," Bonner told CBC News, as he pointed out sections of the concrete steps that have broken off at the entrance on Sainte-Catherine Street. The church is near Phillips Square in the heart of the city's shopping district.

The crumbling concrete steps are causing the most concern to city inspectors. Bringing the steps up to code would cost about $100,000, said Bonner, because the work must be done up to heritage standards.

City inspectors have threatened to shut down the main entrance until the steps are fixed.

Bonner worries that if that happens, the church will lose revenue because people won't want to hold weddings or other large events at the church.

"If we do temp work, it's throwing money away," said Bonner.


Pieces of the plaster roof in the church sanctuary have fallen off because of water infiltration. ((CBC))

Some of the repairs can't be done in a patchwork fashion, said church trustee Allen Fuller, as he walked around the church sanctuary, emptying buckets water collected after a recent rainfall.

Putting on a new slate roof could cost $2 million alone, he said.

A provincial government spokesperson said a decision about funding for St. James Church will be made in the coming weeks.