St. Alphonsus Church gets demolition reprieve in Cape Breton
98-year-old stone church in Victoria Mines closed seven years ago
The Diocese of Antigonish says it will consider a last-minute proposal to save a historic church in Cape Breton that has been slated for demolition.
A tender has already been issued for the demolition of St. Alphonsus Church in Victoria Mines, but the Stone Church Restoration Society believes the structure could be a historic tourist attraction.
"We put together a good proposal for them to look at," said Rod Gale, with the Stone Church Restoration Society.
The decaying Roman Catholic church, on the shores of Sydney Harbour, was erected in 1916 along Highway 28. Structural issues forced the closure of the 98-year-old church in 2007.
Gale said he's grateful the diocese has agreed to look over the group's proposal.
"I've got to thank the diocese for considering our proposal and trying to maintain this historic Cape Breton and Canadian landmark. It's great news," he said.
A few years ago, restoring St. Alphonsus was estimated to cost more than $600,000.
Gale said the society is scaling back its plans and first wants to stop the demolition and shore up the building before tackling anything bigger.
But the diocese said it wants assurances the group has the necessary resources before it cancels the demolition.
"Our fear is that we give it to a group and the group is not able to do what it thinks it can do, and we have a building that is still not being used and no one takes responsibility for," said Rev. Donald MacGillivray.
The tender call for the demolition — which also includes St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in New Victoria and St. Agnes in New Waterford — closes in two weeks. MacGillivray said for now, that date stands.