PEI

Churches not eligible for community infrastructure fund

A national heritage group is disappointed some churches are not eligible for money under the new Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, which is designed to help fix up community facilities across the country.

Competition for infrastructure money expected to be strong

As an operating church, the historic St. Dunstan's Basilica in downtown Charlottetown is not eligible for infrastructure money from the Canada 150 Fund, according to the National Trust. (St. Dunstan's Basilica)

A national heritage group is disappointed some churches are not eligible for money under the new Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program, which is designed to help fix up community facilities across the country.

National Trust executive director Natalie Bull told CBC News only churches operated by community groups and accessible to the public are eligible.

"In principal, operating churches that are still in use as places of worship would not be eligible for this funding," said Bull.

"That's a shame because so many of these buildings they are landmarks in our communities and they're really struggling because of major socio-economic changes."

She noted two landmarks on P.E.I. Tryon United Church and Charlottetown's St. Dunstan's Basilica can't apply for any of the new $150-million fund, even though both churches are national historic sites.

Pleased with commitment by federal government

While the National Trust has some issues with the structure of the fund, the group is pleased the government is offering this new infrastructure money in honour of Canada's 150th anniversary.

The Canada 150 Fund is accessible to legions, cenotaphs, museums, libraries, docks and recreational facilities, and parks and trails, any publicly-owned facilities used by the community. Charlottetown's Confederation Centre will be applying for money.

Bull does point out there will likely be strong competition for the money.

"It is open to municipal governments, provincial governments, non-profit organizations. Lots of folks will be eyeing this pot of money," she said.

"It's not huge. I think for the Atlantic Canada region it's at $16.6 million."

Bull said Ottawa is estimating the average grant will be around $80,000, with a maximum of a million dollars per project.

All work has to be completed by the end of 2017.

Bull asked for clarification whether lighthouses in the midst of being transferred from federal government to a community group can apply. She said that answer is pending from ACOA, which is administering the fund in Atlantic Canada.

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