The “old stone church” in Cape Breton has been placed on Heritage Canada's top 10 list of endangered places and the group looking to save the church says it’s thrilled.
The Diocese of Antigonish had issued a tender for St. Alphonsus Church's demolition in the spring, along with St. Joseph in New Victoria and St. Agnes in New Waterford.
However the Stone Church Restoration Society, a community group formed to save the church, got a reprieve, saving St. Alphonsus from the wrecking ball.
The group wants to buy, restore and open the 98-year-old former Roman Catholic church in Victoria Mines as a historic tourist attraction.
Melanie Sampson, the society's spokeswoman, says Heritage Canada's interest is wonderful.
“I think it means a lot to the people here on Cape Breton island, as well as people in the rest of Canada. It means that people want to see this building remain standing,” she said.
Rod Gale has been fighting to save the church since it was closed seven years ago. He says the national attention is a game changer for them.
“It takes it to a completely different level. This church, this building, not only is it important to us in Cape Breton, but it's been recognized as being important to all of Canada,” he said.
Heritage Canada says its list has become a powerful tool in the fight to make landmarks not landfill.
Sampson says they have until Oct. 31 to make their pitch to the diocese to give the much-loved building a new life.