Anglican diocese vows to fight church repairs
The Anglican Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador says it will continue to fight any attempt to force it to reattach the steeple and make other repairs to its old church in St. Philip's.
An appeal board dismissed the last attempt by the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's to force the diocese to repair the church because the town did not follow proper procedures.
"They [the town] did not do it right," said Brad Wicks, a chancellor and lawyer with the Anglican diocese.
"They can't compel a private property owner to do things unless they follow the rules. They didn't follow those rules."
Church centre of dispute
The church has been at the centre of a three-year dispute between the town and the diocese.
In 2010, the town declared the building a heritage structure to prevent the Anglican diocese from demolishing the building to make way for a graveyard. The building had been deconsecrated and the diocese had been using a new church for several years.
On March 31, 2010, residents discovered the church steeple lying on the ground, having been cut away from the building overnight.
Town offered money, says lawyer
Wicks said the town's legal work for the order was sloppy, but he also thinks the town's decision to issue the order was influenced by the citizens' group trying to preserve the church.
Wicks said it appears the committee offered to give the town $2,000 to help with the cost of having the deteriorating church inspected.
Wicks said no money ever changed hands, but the town did consider the offer which, according to Wicks, casts serious doubts on the town's impartiality.
Portugal Cove-St. Philip's town officials have not yet decided whether to issue another order.
Wicks said if they do, the diocese will challenge it on the same argument of bias.