Sandy Hill heritage church sale raises concerns in community

A community association in Ottawa's Sandy Hill neighbourhood says it's concerned about the future of a historic church recently put up for sale.

All Saints Anglican Church moved from 114-year-old building earlier in summer

It's been the site of a state funeral, a royal wedding and countless services since the dawn of the 20th century.

Now, the future of the former All Saints Anglican Church on Chapel Street in Ottawa's Sandy Hill neighbourhood is in doubt.

The building, completed in 1900 and designated a heritage property in 1998, is now up for sale.

All Saints church has been without a regular congregation since July. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

Action Sandy Hill president Chad Rollins said he'd like to see the building on the corner of Laurier Avenue East become a cultural centre, but thinks a developer will end up outbidding everyone else and use it for a residential complex.

If the property would be rezoned, that is.

"[The city] has taken a lot of steps in the past couple of years towards trying to ensure character in our mature and older neighbourhoods is protected, yet on the other hand they continue to do a lot of things that undermine those efforts," Rollins said.

"The constant 'spot' rezonings is a big one."

Rollins said the city should make more predictable development decisions and not grant as many case-by-case exceptions as they have in the past.

"There's really no certainty for anyone in the community, not even for developers," he said.

The "For Sale" sign in front of the church appeared about two weeks ago, according to residents. (Andrew Foote/CBC)

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury said the area is zoned "institutional" and he wants it to stay that way.

"We feel the appropriate designation is in place… it's a clear message of the importance," he said. "We'd like it to stay as a church but if it's not, it for sure should stay institutional."

Former PM Borden funeral site

The building at 317 Chapel St. was finished in 1900 and founded by Sir Henry Newell Bate, who was the first chair of the Ottawa Improvement Commission (or National Capital Commission, as we now know it.)

The state funeral for former prime minister Robert Borden was held there in 1937, and it was the site of a wedding between Lois Booth, granddaughter of lumber baron J.R. Booth, and Danish prince Erik von Rosenberg in 1924.

Action Sandy Hill is part of a rally planned for Wednesday afternoon, scheduled to start at the former church, to "encourage the City to preserve the historic character of Sandy Hill."

The rally is scheduled to end at the corner of Laurier Avenue East and Friel Street, where council voted down a rezoning that would have replaced heritage buildings there with a nine-storey student residence.

All Saints's congregation moved to a new location on Montreal Road in July. They have a farewell celebration planned for Thursday night.

Nobody from the congregation or real estate company managing the sale replied to requests for comment.