St. James United Church flooded after pipes burst

Montreal’s St. James United Church is assessing the damage after a burst pipe sent a torrent of water cascading through the historic building.

Flooding latest challenge for church, which suffered fire damage in 2012

St. James United Church on Ste-Catherine Street West experienced flooding this morning, causing extensive damage. (Luigi Luzio/Left Hand Ideas)

Montreal’s St. James United Church is assessing the damage after a burst pipe sent a torrent of water cascading through the historic building.

Water flowed down to the church’s basement and knocked out the furnace. The building is now without heat on what is proving to be one of the coldest days on record in Quebec.

This is just the latest challenge for Rev. Arlen Bonnar and the St. James community. In March 2012, a fire almost destroyed the back part of the church, including a homeless drop-in centre.​

Damage from the flooding is believed to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and the church is now in crisis mode, Bonnar said.

This latest incident may put the brakes on a wedding scheduled tomorrow. Still, groom Michael McCharles is remarkably calm given the circumstances.

"I hope it's still gonna be OK or else we're gonna have to try and find another place," McCharles said.

"Stuff happens, eh? So you have to adjust to whatever happens."

Bonnar is still hoping the wedding and Sunday service can go ahead. Portable heaters and dehumidifiers have been brought in to help dry out and warm up St. James United.

Bonnar said that fortunately, the newly restored organ in the 125-year-old church doesn't appear to be damaged, although he is worried about how the cold might affect its 5,000 pipes.

He said recent events have tested him and his community, but they're trying to stay positive. 

"Yeah, we feel kind of bent sometimes, but our faith says to us, 'Hey, you just pick yourself up and move forward,'" Bonnar said.

The two furnaces in the church's basement were knocked out by the flooding, meaning the church currently has no heating during the current cold snap. (Steve Rukavina/CBC)
The flooding at St. James caused extensive damage, two years after the church experienced a fire that destroyed part of the building. Rev. Arlen Bonnar says the church is now in crisis mode. (Steve Rukavina/CBC)
Portable heaters are being used at St. James United to try to warm the building up after the building's two furnaces got knocked out by flooding. (Steve Rukavina/CBC)
Further flooding in the church's basement. (Steve Rukavina/CBC)


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