Parishioners of a Roman Catholic church in Aylmer that was destroyed by fire nearly four years ago are considering plans for a multi-use, co-operative building at the site.

The 45,000 square-foot building, which would house four users, would leave the congregation with less than half of the space they had before the fire.

The Old Aylmer Heritage committee presented three different options at a meeting Tuesday night, but the presentation leaned heavily in the direction of the multi-use proposal.

About 100 parishioners attended the meeting.


Parishioner Jacques Brassard was hoping for a new standalone church at a meeting on Tuesday night. (CBC)

An act of arson in 2009 destroyed the 120-year-old church, and building a copy of it would cost about $10 million to $20 million. Trying to save even a small part of the scorched facade was also too expensive for the aging parish.

Paul-Andre Durocher is Archbishop of the Diocese of Gatineau.

"Who has that money?" he said Tuesday. "The parish has $3 million in insurance money, the needs of the community have changed, the reality of ... committment of people to faith practise is different than it was when the church was built. So that whole reality invites a new look at this time. We have to think of what the situation will be not just today, but in 20, 30, 40 years from now."

In January, the last of the stone walls was torn down.

Some of the parishioners at the meeting were still holding out for a standalone church.

"It was a great church. We've always been here, and then one of those nights, a foolish thing happened. I don't know why, whoever did that. It's a sad story ... over this, I've seen people cry," said Jacques Brassard. "It was very hard to take.


Cecile Pare said she wouldn't mind a modern, multi-use building. (CBC)

"Hopefully one of these days we're going to have a church ... this is what I'm looking for, this is what I'm here for tonight," Brassard said. "Something small, simple, something that would be there for us, a new home, a new beginning."

Cecile Pare, another parishioner, said she wouldn't mind a more modern building to share with others.

"I'd like a church that will have a hall that they can rent, that pays on its own, that has more than just a church," Pare said. "We can't have the same. It's impossible. It was too big before ... we couldn't rebuild that. But to have something modern, so the people can gather, that's all."

The parishioners will make a decision on what to do by the end of April.